October 08, 2017
The Eagles put on a dominant performance in the opening 30 minutes against the Arizona Cardinals, opening up a 21-7 lead that felt like it could have been larger. Doug Pederson and his crew will be happy in the locker room after that performance.
• Carson Wentz had an up-and-down first series behind center, which started with his first throw being batted down at the line of scrimmage. But the young QB came up with a couple huge throws to make consecutive third-down conversions, hooking up with Zach Ertz and Alshon Jeffery on slant routes.
The Eagles attacked the middle of the field on their first series, and it paid off for them at the conclusion of the drive. Trey Burton got a good release at the line of scrimmage, and all Wentz had to do was loft him a pass on his way to six points.
Wentz really loves throwing that slot fade, beautiful throw to Burton for TD. Key to drive were the 2 3rd-and-11 conversions pic.twitter.com/vwKY3SfLkO— The Bitter Birds (@AdrianFedkiw) October 8, 2017
Everybody in the stadium saw this one open up, including Torrey Smith, who raised his arms in triumph before the ball even reached Burton's hands.
• All things being equal, the Eagles would love to still have Darren Sproles in the fold, doing his jack-of-all-trades thing. But when Kenjon Barner is doing stuff like this, Sproles' absence isn't as noticeable:
This is why Kenjon Barner was signed when Darren Sproles got hurt, huge punt return! pic.twitter.com/1wcXK7A0As— The Bitter Birds (@AdrianFedkiw) October 8, 2017
Barner was just as good in the run game, taking advantage of the Wendell Smallwood-sized hole in the backfield. He nearly converted a first down on a 3rd-and-19 run in the second quarter, making a tremendous individual effort that fell just short of the sticks.
Chip Kelly's #DuckBias had a negative impact on the franchise as a whole, but it did help bring Barner into the Eagles' orbit, so it wasn't a total loss.
• "This is going to be Zach Ertz's breakout year!" was basically a running joke heading into this season. Every offseason, it felt like we were promised big things from the young tight end, only for Ertz to remain at or around the same level he's always been at.
It's no longer a laughing matter. Ertz has been one of the best tight ends in the NFL this season, and his chemistry with his quarterback could not be more obvious. Wentz has made a habit out of looking for him when times get tough, and this first-quarter touchdown is no different.
Strong start for Zach Ertz continues, beats Tyvon Branch for the TD. 14-0 Eagles! pic.twitter.com/nm5wHMeFpQ— The Bitter Birds (@AdrianFedkiw) October 8, 2017
• Torrey Smith finally hauled in a deep ball! Thanks to some great protection from the offensive line, Carson Wentz had enough time to uncork this throw to Smith, whose speed took care of the rest.
Pederson has to be thrilled to see this, because Wentz and Smith were within inches of touchdown plays several times during the first four weeks, only for an overthrow or a drop to derail the play. This is what they brought Smith in to do, and it will help silence the critics for at least one week.
Plus, we could all use more celebrations like these:
the best end zone celebration I have ever seen in my life. pic.twitter.com/GL5ywbPiLW— chris jones¯\_(ツ)_/¯ (@LONG_DRIVE) October 8, 2017
• Timmy Jernigan is a badass. That's about all that needs to be said.
Timmy Jernigan slices into the backfield and gets the tackle for loss, continues to thrive in Cox's absence pic.twitter.com/lK4dXyfPX7— The Bitter Birds (@AdrianFedkiw) October 8, 2017
The #Eagles have punted both drives with Chance Warmack in at left guard. 3 TDs with Wisniewski in there.— Aaron Kasinitz (@AaronKazreports) October 8, 2017
The rotation at guard feels like a self-inflicted wound at this point, and it is apparent to pretty much everyone that the offense is worse off when Warmack is up in the rotation.
Great block by Wiz on the screen to Clement, I don't want to see Warmack in at guard anymore pic.twitter.com/ynT6eXdOmK— The Bitter Birds (@AdrianFedkiw) October 8, 2017
Stop trying to make Chance Warmack a thing, Eagles.— the guy (@theguyotc) October 8, 2017
It makes zero sense to me for Chance Warmack to be in this game.— Jimmy Kempski (@JimmyKempski) October 8, 2017
Crazy how the Eagles’ offense hasn’t been as good since Chance Warmack was put in.— Brandon Lee Gowton (@BrandonGowton) October 8, 2017
If it's that obvious to the people covering the team and the fans at home, the coaching staff has to realize this too. The charade needs to end.
• Wentz can't turn the ball over to close out the half, period. The worst part of the interception he threw in the end zone is that it came one play after he almost threw another pick, which mercifully bounced off the hands of Patrick Peterson. That near miss should have been a wake-up call for Wentz, who had all the motivation in the world to play ball-control offense at that point in the half.
On the whole, Wentz had a very good half. But mistakes like these remind you of his youth and the gunslinger mentality that can get him into trouble. He needs to be smarter here, and he has to prioritize coming away with at least a field goal in that situation. Get the score to 24-7 at the half, and go for the kill when you get the ball to start the third quarter.
Wentz owes a beer or two to the special teams unit for blocking Arizona's field-goal attempt and bailing him out.