20 September 2016

Cautiously Optimistic

Eagles 29, Bears 14, Monday, September 19, 2016

I'm not quite ready to get on the Carson Wagon to Wentzadelphia (which I prefer to "Wentzlyvania" and to paraphrase Suzy Kolber), but I'm feeling significantly more optimistic than I was on Friday, April 29.

Stud of the week: No, I'm not picking Carson Wentz, despite the fact that he did have quite a good
game (which we'll get to in a minute). I'm going with Trey Burton. It's not easy being the #3 tight end behind Brent Celek (who may not be quite at his peak as a receiver anymore, but who still kills it on blocking and YAC) and Zach Ertz. But with Ertz out with a rib injury, Burton was starting and he made the most of his night, recording five catches for 49 yards and his VERY FIRST NFL TD. Good job, buddy! With Ertz out for an as-yet undetermined amount of time, it was good to see the #3 guy step up in a big way.

Other guys did good, too!

The defense is, with a few tiny hiccups, on fire so far this year. To quote Reuben Frank:
...but two games in, the Eagles have allowed 17 points, have six sacks, forced four turnovers and have yet to give up 300 yards. They’ve allowed only three second-half points.
So much for "Jim Schwartz is washed up," am I right?

Ryan Matthews short TD run in the fourth quarter and on fourth down when our kicker was looking iffy was masterful, too. He looked like he was stopped and maybe going down, and then he popped around, kept his legs churning, used his hand to keep his balance, and motored on into the end zone.

Speaking of, Caleb Sturgis had us all Googling "whatever did happen to Cody Parkey after the Eagles cut him," but it seems to have just been cramps on a hot and humid night in Chicago. Get that man some Gatorade, stat! At least, unlike the Bears' coaching staff, Doug Pederson didn't have to spend halftime dialing up guys from the practice squad asking, "How fast can you get to Soldier Field? We're running out a players, here, man!"

Jalen Mills has come under some criticism for giving up a long completion to Alshon Jeffrey and whiffing on a tackle on Eddie Royal. Let's put that another way: the 22 year old rookie starting his first pro game in place of injured cornerback Leodis McKelvin gave up ONE big completion to the much taller Pro Bowl receiver he was assigned to cover, and whiffed on one big tackle. Dude's spunky! He'll be fine.

Some guys did not do so good. Jason Kelce, I'm looking at you. Jordan Matthews and Nelson Agholor, STOP DROPPING THE DAMN BALL.

So let's get back to Carson Wentz. 21/34 for 190 yards, 1 TD and no picks is a good - but not great - night, but as many people have already noted, he was not exactly helped by his team. He had a great completion to Brent Celek called back for a Jason Kelce penalty, and both Jordan Matthews and Nelson Agholor dropped beautiful passes that would have been long completions (likely TDs). Wentz played better than his stats reflect.

The stats also don't show that he's only been the starter for two weeks, and that this was his first prime time game, his first nationally broadcast game, and his first road game all in one. He seemed remarkably calm, and did an excellent job (I thought) of seeing the field and what was coming at him, changing plays and protection at the line, and going through his reads like a seasoned veteran (and far better than certain seasoned veterans - cough, cough Kirk Cousins - were able to manage on Sunday).

During the broadcast, Chucky and the new guy (let's call him Milky Milquetoast) reviewed the Parade of Sadness that has been the Eagles QB situation since Donovan McNabb. If you missed it, be glad, because .500 Michael Vick was BY FAR the high point of the last six seasons, and the Eagles have tried five different guys at starter since 2010. Is Carson Wentz THE ONE? I'm not calling him Neo yet, but I have hope for the first time in a long time.

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