Carson Wentz received another flurry of tests in his second start, and the rookie turned in another solid performance in Monday’s win over the Bears.
For the first time in his career, Wentz played from behind, and had to overcome a solid pass rush as well as mistakes from his own teammates.
The Eagles opened the game with a no-huddle approach, in which Wentz was allowed to make all kinds of adjustments at the line of scrimmage before each snap. The Birds moved the ball down the field methodically, traveling 46 yards on 12 plays over a whopping seven minutes and 26 seconds.
Along the way, the Eagles were faced with a fourth-and-two, and Pederson elected to go for it, trusting his rookie quarterback to advance the drive as did the week before in Cleveland. Wentz once again delivered, firing a strike to Dorial Green-Beckham. The drive would result in a field goal.
After that, the offense would stall for most of the first half. Chicago took away the running game, sent a pretty good pass rush at Wentz, and the wide receivers dropped a handful of passes, but Wentz never lost his poise.
Wentz wasn’t rattled by the amount of hits he was taking, and remained accurate and precise with the majority of his passes throughout the game. I’ve been very impressed by his awareness. The rookie seems to do an excellent job reading and reacting to defenses, and also seems to constantly keep his eyes down the field, even during broken plays.
The biggest positive? No turnovers for the offense. No turnovers in either game this season.
While Wentz’s numbers aren’t impressive on paper, he delivered some big throws tonight. If his wideouts had held on to a couple more passes, his numbers might have matched the impressiveness of his performance.
Defense Anchors Eagles’ Road Win
Playing without Leodis McKelvin was a bit an issue for the Eagles tonight, but Jim Schwartz’s unit stood tall on the road against the Bears.
The defense started the game with a quick three-and-out. On the second Chicago drive, the Birds gave up a couple of long completions, but were bailed out by Chicago kicker Connor Barth missing a chip-shot field goal.
Jalen Mills was beat on a double move by Alshon Jeffrey on the third drive, giving up a 49-yard completion that set up the Bears’ first touchdown.
The fourth possession was an impressive one for the defense. The Eagles’ offense had stalled out, and the Bears began with the football around midfield with a 7-3 lead. Brandon Graham recorded a sack on first down, and the defense was able to get off of the field without allowing further damage.
In the second half, the defense really took over. The group forced three turnovers in the second half, including a sack and forced fumble of Jay Culter by Destiny Vaeao to stop a drive around mid-field, an interception by Nigel Bradham that would set the offense up for an easy touchdown, and another forced fumble by Bennie Logan to put the game out of reach.
The defense would force Cutler out of the game, and finished the night allowing only seven points to the Chicago offense.
- Jordan Matthews may go down as one of the most frustrating wide receivers we’ll see in Philadelphia. Matthews had an absolutely inexcusable drop at the end of the first half that cost the Eagles a touchdown. With the team driving towards the end of the half, Wentz put up a perfectly thrown ball right in position for Matthews to make a play, and the third-year pro couldn’t come down with it.
- That was probably the worst drop I had seen since Todd Pinkston “lost the ball in the lights” back on Monday Night against the Washington Redskins in 2004.
- Jason Kelce wiped out a 20-yard completion to Brent Celek with a holding penalty, and was then flagged for an illegal hands to the face on the very next play.
- Jason Peters was flagged for a holding call that wiped out a Ryan Mathews first-down run.
- Mathews wasn’t involved in the first half, but scored two touchdowns in the second half.
- Doug Pederson employed a number of power-running formations that featured seven offensive lineman. Matt Tobin and Stefan Wisniewski came in as extra blockers, with the team using Jordan Matthews as the lone wideout in these sets.
- The Eagles tried to go back to the jet sweep plays for Josh Huff that worked in the preseason, but the Bears nuetralized them effectively.
- Wendell Smallwood picked up an 11-yard run in the second half.
- Kenjon Barner wasn’t involved much in the gameplan this week.
- Nelson Agholor made a couple of plays, but also dropped two catchable balls, including a fade route in the endzone.
- Trey Burton picked up the slack in the absence of Zach Ertz, catching five passes for 49 yards and a touchdown.
- Why isn’t Dorial Green-Beckham the target on the fade routes?
- Malcolm Jenkins got the defense off to a strong start, sacking Cutler on a safety blitz on the opening possession for Chicago.
- Jalen Mills struggled against Alshon Jeffrey, but maintained his cool and played better later in the game.
- Interesting sequence in the first half. During the third Chicago possession, middle linebacker Jordan Hicks was replaced by veteran Stephen Tulloch. Hicks wasn’t injured, as he came out with the special teams for the Bears’ extra point try. The Birds opted to give that entire series to Tulloch.
- Ron Brooks should have had an interception on the second Chicago drive, dropping a pick on a third down. Luckily, the Bears missed the field goal on the following play.
- Destiny Vaeao would probably have been near the bottom of my list of likely heroes from tonight’s game.
- The Eagles missed a number of open field tackles that gave the Bears some nice gains. Ron Brooks, Jalen Mills, and Malcolm Jenkins were all guilty of this.
- Caleb Sturgis was a key in tonight’s game, drilling all three of his field goal attempts in the first half, including a 53-yarder to give the Birds the lead.
- The special teams allowed the Bears to score a garbage-time touchdown in the fourth.
Everything about this team has been very impressive through two weeks.
The rookie quarterback looks great. The defense has given up just 17 points in eight quarters. But what stands out most of all, is that this team seems to be very well coached.
Doug Pederson has done a very good job through two games. He’s had a lot of creativity in his formations, and the fact that his offense hasn’t turned the ball over at all to this point is a credit to him.
The Eagles are now 2-0 and come back home to face a great challenge in the Pittsburgh Steelers.
Follow Denny Basens on Twitter, @DennyBasens