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August 11, 2016

Final observations: Eagles 17, Bucs 9

Eagles NFL

In the preseason, the second half (ICYMI, tonight's first-half observations are here) is often reserved for players that have no prayer of making the team. While that was still the case in South Philly tonight for the preseason opener, many Eagles fans were more interested than they were in the first half. Why wouldn't they be? It was Carson Wentz time.

The Eagles again struggled to move the ball, but the second and third-team defensive players picked right up from where the starters left off. And the Birds beat the Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Lincoln Financial Field, 17-9. Here's what I saw:

The good

GOOD CARSON: Wentz can really move, and behind that offensive line, he better. On one play in the third quarter, the 6'5" rookie got out of the pocket, cut back toward the middle, and slid at the perfect time once he was about to get crunched. I'm way too excited for an Eagles quarterback who even flashes the ability to protect himself.

• On an impressive 72-yard drive that ended in an interception, Wentz made some nice reads against the blitz, finding the hot receivers and moving the chains.

• Steven Means, whom Jimmy has written about a good bit during training camp, continued his strong play. On a third down in the third quarter, he beat the right tackle clean and stripped quarterback Ryan Griffin.

• The guys at the bottom of the roster did some nice things, too. Nice fourth-quarter interception by linebacker Quentin Gause off a deflection after cornerback C.J. Smith provided some good initial coverage on an in route:

• Smith played well. He later sealed the game with a pick in the end zone.

• On the whole, the Eagles ran the ball effectively enough tonight. They finished with 93 yards on 26 attempts, picking up first downs on short-yardage situations multiple times.

• Donnie J'Owns put on a punting clinic, finishing with a 44-yard average on nine punts.

The bad

•  BAD CARSON: Wentz threw an ugly red zone interception to Isaiah Johnson that was a bad read and a bad throw. Receivers didn't appear to be open on the play (though I would need to re-watch it to be 100 percent sure) and the pocket was closing in on him, but that is a ball that you simply can't throw. He has to take the sack there.

• In general, what we observed from Wentz is mostly what he showed in training camp. His accuracy can certainly be inconsistent. When Wentz missed receivers, he generally missed high. His final numbers weren't impressive: 12-24, 89 yards, 0 touchdowns, 1 interception, and a 43.4 rating.

• Numbers might not tell the whole story, though. Wentz didn't get a ton of help. Not every one of his passes was right on the money, but his receivers dropped at least three very catchable passes. The same was also true when Chase Daniel was in the game. Not a great night for the Eagles skill position players up and down the roster, with the one exception of Ryan Mathews.

The ugly

• TIMBER! After wearing the red jersey all preseason, Wentz took some serious shots:

• Overall, this was an off night from Daniel, Wentz, the skill position players, and the second and third-team offensive lines in pass protection. The Eagles finished with only 95 passing yards.

The funny

New category!

• On a second and short situation, Wentz dealt with a bad snap, scooped the ball up, scrambled, and threw it out of bounds. While it certainly was a heads-up play, The Linc faithful practically gave the rookie a standing ovation.

• This tweet:

Follow Rich on Twitter: @rich_hofmann