The Eagles absolutely emasculated the Browns this past Sunday to the tune of a 29-10 win. Here are some of my thoughts from the game.
The Browns are bad.
I wanted to preface every point Im about to make with this very important fact. The Browns are a big bag of suck. Going into Sunday, I was giving them the benefit of the doubt that they could finally be a competitive team, what with the addition of Hue Jackson and all, but naw. You can’t change a zebra’s stripes and you can’t get the Browns to be competent. I’ll give them credit, some of their guys had half decent days, but for the most part it was the same ‘ol same ‘ol for the perpetually putrid Browns. Eagles fans need to temper their expectations going forward because we really don’t need a repeat of last year’s Packers preseason game. Just keep thinking about that 3-1 comeback Cleveland fans, basketball will be here soon enough.
Carson “My dick’s bigger than yours” Wentz
I hope someone bought this guy a Coke after the game he had because damn he deserved it. After throwing just 24 passes over the entire preseason, Carson Wentz showed up to Lincoln Financial Field looking like he’s been doing this whole professional quarterback thing for a couple years now. Wentz showed off everything that made him the second overall pick, the arm, the IQ, the athleticism, it was all on full display. All of his best throws were fit perfectly into tight windows, throws you don’t see a certain big sleeved quarterback make regularly. The thing that had me most impressed with Wentz’ was his pre-play recognition, you could routinely see the guy reading the defense and making the correct adjustment at the line of scrimmage. Hell, the guy picked up a first down off a hard count! ROOKIES WHO MISS NEARLY THE ENTIRE PRESEASON DONT DO THAT IN THEIR FIRST START! He also had great chemistry with his receivers, which is something I did not expect considering he’s played with them so sparingly throughout training camp and the preseason, which brings me to my next point.
Was Jordan Matthews really hurt?
Considering he was a stone-handed, ball-dropping, rage-inducing wonder last year, I was expecting Jordan Matthews to be a little rusty going into week one, but this Eagles team seems to love proving me wrong so far. Matthews was by far Wentz’ favorite target on the afternoon finishing with seven catches on fourteen targets for 114 yard and a score. If you were to ask someone who didn’t know any better who Matthews lived with for a week in Oklahoma over the Summer, they might assume it was Wentz. Outside of a couple dropped balls, Matthews looks like the receiver who had 317 yards and four touchdowns over the course of the last three games of last season. This is a QB-WR duo im V excited to see grow moving forward.
Nelson Agholor things that didn’t hurt the Eagles!
I’ll admit it, before Sunday I was just about ready to give up hope for Nelson Agholor. Throughout his rookie year and this preseason, it just looked like it was the same one step forward three steps back shit that he’s been pulling his whole career. For every big catch, Agholor would follow it up with a fumble or a tipped pass interception or a rape allegation. I really thought he was going to go the way of Eric Rowe. But thankfully Agholor showed he still has a pulse against the Browns going for four catches on five targets for 57 yards and a touchdown. The touchdown was a better pass than catch, but Agholor still had to beat tight coverage from Joe Haden to make the catch. It’s way too soon to say he’s finally come around and earned the first round hype, but Im a little more optimistic than I was.
The law firm of Matthews-Barner-Sproles is open for business.
Although no Eagles running back really had a breakout game — Ryan Matthews was solid but not spectacular — the Eagles rushing attack looked great as a whole against the Browns. Doug Pederson did a good job of rotating his running backs to get the most out of them. Ryan Matthews was the closest thing the team had to a below back, he got the bulk of the carries with a little sprinkling of Kenjon Barner every so often to keep the defense on there toes. It may of only been on limited carries, but I thought Barner may have been the most impressive back Sunday averaging 10.5 a carry on four carries for 42 yards. Darren Sproles took over his usual role of receiving back, although he left a little bit to be desired, Im just chalking it up to Sproles getting use to his new quarterback though. The three running backs finished the day with a combined 131 yards and a touchdown. Considering what he did last season with a running back by committee in Kansas City, im excited and curious to see how Doug Pederson uses his backs going forward.
Is the Eagles’ offensive line better?
Considering the Browns started two rookie edge rushers, I felt the offensive line could of had a better day. While they weren’t terrible, they sure as hell should of been a lot better. Jason Peters looks like he’s picking things up right where he left off last season, Lane Johnson caught too many flags, Brandon Brooks was good, but not great, and Jason Kelce got eaten up by Danny Shelton. Believe it or not Allen Barbre actually finished as the team’s highest graded lineman according to PFF, go figure right. Meanwhile, Jason Kelce is now rated as the worst center in football, maybe last year’s struggles weren’t just a fluke. The Browns finished with two sack and three tackles for loss to go along with a lot of unnecessary pressure on Carson Wentz. This Browns pass rush should finish among the league’s worst, which makes me nervous going forward.
The defensive line is what we thought it’d be.
I can say with absolute confidence that the defensive line is the best unit on the Eagles. It’s amazing how big a difference a simple scheme change makes. Had it not been for 40 garbage time yards on the Browns last possession, starting running back Isiah Crowell would of been held to just 22 yards rushing. The Eagles finished the game with three sacks and five tackles for loss, all coming from the defensive line. Conner Barwin picked up a sack off a bull rush on Joe Thomas while three blockers had their hands full with Fletcher Cox. I’ve said all I needed to say.
Jordan Hicks is back and doing the same things that made him great.
There might not of been an Eagles I was more nervous about going into this season than Jordan Hicks. He’s a notoriously injury prone player and was held out of training camp for what seemed to be an necessarily long time, I began wondering if he was still injured. Well it seems like the Eagles’ cautious ways may have been for the best because the guy looks a whole lot like he did during his not defensive rookie of the year season. Jordan Hicks finished with just four tackles, but his presence was felt beyond that, specifically in the passing game. Hicks was graded as the fifth best overall linebacker in football and earned the highest coverage grade of any backer. Hicks was also the highest graded defensive player on the Eagles and second overall to only Carson Wentz. If this guy can play a full season, he could really make some noise.
Donnie Jones gets my vote for team MVP.
Can we talk about how good of a day Donnie Jones had!? I don’t get excited about punters normally, but DZAAAAAMN Donnie Jones had a day. Donnie Jones punted the ball six times, the Browns didn’t return a single one. Jones had three touch backs and pinned the Browns inside their own 20 three times. He had a long of 72 (!!!!!!) yards and averaged 49.2 yards a punt. Donnie Jones was legitimately killing drives for the Browns before their offense even got out on the field. They say there’s no defense like a good offense, well I say there’s no defense like a zoned in Donnie Jones.