After 1 quarter and 2 TD drives, Eagles' offense looks ready to Pederson

After 1 quarter and 2 TD drives, Eagles' offense looks ready to Pederson

Just like that, it was over. After just one quarter, after just 19 snaps, after just 49 plays all preseason, Carson Wentz and the first-team offense were done.

Eagles head coach Doug Pederson went against convention Thursday night and yanked his starters after just four drives and one quarter in the Eagles' preseason game at the Linc against the Dolphins.

NFL custom says the starters play well into the third quarter of the third preseason game, but after Wentz engineered a nine-play, 93-yard touchdown drive, Pederson had seen enough.

It was time to get Wentz and Co. safely to the sideline and start getting ready for the real stuff and the Redskins two weeks from Sunday in Landover.

"I feel real comfortable with where they're at," Pederson said after the Eagles' 38-31 preseason win. "Their focus now is in a couple of weeks, and they can get some really good work, 1-on-1 work, in these next few practices, and kind of get ready for the regular season."

There was a sense among the players that the two 2½-hour practices with the Dolphins on Monday and Tuesday were more valuable than the game itself.

Certainly, nobody was complaining about the quick hook.

"They got a lot of great work for two days," Pederson said. "You think about it, we really don't play full football games on 48 hours rest, and Monday and Tuesday (were) pretty intense for both teams.

"I felt like we got some good work, so that was part of the reason why I was able to pull them out sooner."

It does all make sense.

The starters played one series in the preseason opener and scored a touchdown; they played four series — two more than anticipated — in the second game against the Bills; then scored two TDs in four drives Thursday night.

A year ago, Sam Bradford and the first-team offense played 67 snaps in the preseason, including 35 in the third game against the Colts. This year, the 1's played 48 snaps.

"I don't want the fact to get lost that we practiced against the Miami Dolphins for two days before this game and got plenty of reps against them," center Jason Kelce said.
"That kind of gets lost in the translation a little bit. Would I have liked our offense to be more consistent in the preseason? I think we had a great week of practice against these guys and I think that probably factored into it, and the success we had early on.

"I would have liked to have more success against the Bills, but I feel like we got enough reps against Miami. We got so many reps. There were a lot of team reps, a lot of reps with their 1's against our 1's, so I think we got what we needed against this opponent."

There was plenty of offensive inconsistency from the Eagles' first offense in the three preseason games, but they did score three touchdowns on nine drives without the benefit of game planning and with the first O-line together for only the Miami game.

The starters won't play against the Jets in the final preseason game Thursday night at the Meadowlands.

"That is preseason football," Wentz said. "I got a lot of work in over camp, honestly. With 16 games last year, I was healthy. I got good work in in the preseason. I don't think it was overkill. But it was a good number, and I feel confident going forward.

"We got a lot of good situational work during the week where we didn't have to go fully live, but we got to see some different looks. I think that was part of it. And then coming out and putting together a couple of drives, I think it was a 93-yard drive we ended with, I think we all kind of said, 'We have seen enough.'"

The offensive line was still shaky at times Thursday night, but there were plenty of positives.

Like Wentz's 50-yard TD bomb to Torrey Smith — longer than any TD pass an Eagles wide receiver caught last year.

Like the running game finally showing signs of life, and LeGarrette Blount and Wendell Smallwood combining for 47 rushing yards on just eight carries.

Like Wentz smoothly finding Alshon Jeffery for completions of  20 and 15 yards on the 93-yard drive, the second one for a touchdown.

Like Zach Ertz looking explosive with three catches for 44 yards.

"I feel good," said Wentz, who threw only 23 passes in the three preseason games.

"I feel confident. I am thankful, for the most part, that everyone is healthy too. So I think, tonight, this offense was a good showing for us. The interception (on a tipped ball) was unfortunate, but we moved the ball well. And for the starters, it's exciting to start getting ready for Washington."

Jeffery was asked if had ever come out of a third preseason game this early.

"I don't remember," he said. "Honestly, I don't even think about preseason games."

Roob's 10 observations: Brian Dawkins' Hall of Fame, Nate Gerry & Zach Ertz vs. Jason Witten

Roob's 10 observations: Brian Dawkins' Hall of Fame, Nate Gerry & Zach Ertz vs. Jason Witten

Carson Wentz's remarkable consistency, expectations of Nate Gerry, questions at wideout, a Zach Ertz stat you absolutely won't believe and the rarity of Eagles Hall of Fame teammates.

Roob's 10 random Eagles observations don't get much more random than this!

1. Can we take a moment to talk about how insanely consistent Wentz was before he got hurt? Wentz’s lowest passer rating last year was an 83.0 in the loss to the Chiefs. He threw for 333 yards with two TDs and one INT and that was his worst game of the year. Wentz is one of just four quarterbacks in NFL history to open a season with a rating of 83 or higher in every game through the first 13 games of a season. Which of course is when his season ended. Including the last week of 2016, Wentz goes into 2018 on a streak of 14 straight games with a rating of 83 or higher. That’s seventh longest in NFL history, and the longest active streak. Wentz’s 21 career games with a passer rating of 83 or higher are tied for third most in NFL history by any QB after two seasons, behind only Dan Marino (23) and Russell Wilson (23). And he missed the last three games of the season. What a talent.

2. I’m curious to see Gerry this summer. With Mychal Kendricks off to the Browns and Paul Worrilow out for the season, there are roster spots to be won and playing time to be earned behind Nigel Bradham (out for the opener) and injury-plagued Jordan Hicks. After starting his rookie season on the practice squad, Gerry got an October promotion onto the 53 and got into 10 games and all three playoff games, almost all of it on special teams. He looked bigger and stronger in spring practices as he continues to transition from safety to linebacker. With a good summer, he can definitely find himself in the mix.

3. Ertz had nine third-down catches for first down in the 2017 playoffs. Jason Witten had eight playoff third-down catches for first down in his 15-year career.

4. And Ertz’s nine third-down catches in last year's postseason are the most by any tight end in a single postseason — and second most by any player — in the last 30 years.

5. The Eagles converted 61 percent of their third downs during the 2017 postseason, which is insane. That’s the fourth highest in NFL history by any team in a single postseason (among teams playing at least two playoff games). The Broncos converted 75 percent in 1997, the Rams 63 percent in 2004 and the Colts 62 percent in 1995.  

6. You thought Vaughn Hebron was fast? His daughter, Sanaa, won the AAU national title for the 400-meter dash this weekend in 55.31. That would have placed her fourth in the Big East championships this year. She’s 13 years old. Vaughn’s sons, competing in the 17-18 age group, are no slouches, either. Savion ran 10.78 and 21.68 for the 100 and 200, and Savaughn ran a 2:00 split on the Trenton Track club’s 3,200-meter relay team. So Vaughn right now is at best the fourth-fastest person in his own family. But he does have a couple Super Bowl rings.

7. So many questions at wide receiver behind Alshon Jeffery and Nelson Agholor. Will Mike Wallace slow down at 32? Can Mack Hollins make a big jump in Year 2? Will Shelton Gibson show enough in camp to work his way into the roster mix? Can Markus Wheaton regain the form that made him so dangerous with the Steelers in 2014 and 2015? Can speedy Bryce Treggs make any sort of impact in his third year? Potentially, an exceptional group.

8. Nick Foles is the third-youngest active quarterback in the NFL with at least three career playoff wins. Foles turns exactly 29 years, six months on Thursday. Cam Newton (29, 68 days) and Andrew Luck (who turns 29 in September) also have three postseason wins.

9. Interesting that during 2004 and part of 2005 the Eagles had two future Hall of Famers, Brian Dawkins and Terrell Owens. What was the last Eagles team before 2004 with two Hall of Famers? It was actually 1997, when Dawkins and Richard Dent were briefly teammates. Before that, it was 1987 through 1989, with Reggie White and Cris Carter. Before that, you have to go back to 1968, with Bob Brown and Mike Ditka. So the 14 games that Dawkins and Dent played together during an otherwise forgotten 1997 season are the only Eagles games in the last 50 years where two future Hall of Famers played alongside each other on the same side of the ball.

10. Dawkins didn’t make a Pro Bowl until his fourth season and didn’t make All-Pro until his sixth. Keep that in mind when you’re deciding that “so-and-so can't play” two weeks into his rookie training camp.

More on the Eagles

Eagle Eye: How players handle last days before training camp

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Eagle Eye: How players handle last days before training camp

In the latest edition of Eagle Eye, Derrick Gunn and Barrett Brooks discuss what players are doing the final days leading up to the beginning of training camp. Following the Josh Hader social media controversy, how would something like that play out in an NFL locker room? MLB All-Star Game had players mic'd up. Which Eagles would you want to hear from live during a game?

1:00 - Guys are excited for training camp.
3:00 - What are players doing the last days leading up to training camp?
7:00 - Josh Hader's controversial past tweets.
14:00 - How would that play in a NFL locker room?
19:00 - Barrett doesn't like burgers with cheese.
21:30 - If you could hear NFL players mic'd up during a game, which Eagles would you want to hear from?

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