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September 11, 2016

Halftime observations: Eagles 13, Browns 7

Eagles NFL

Football season (well, the games that count at least) is finally here, as is the Carson Wentz era in Philadelphia. On paper, it appeared as if the No. 2 overall pick couldn't have been placed in a better spot, debuting at home against a bad Cleveland Browns team. 

It was a tale of two quarters, as the Eagles slowed down after a very hot start. They're taking a 13-7 lead into the locker room. Here's what I saw:

The good

• The first drive of the Wentz era couldn't have gone better, huh? The Eagles received the kickoff and promptly went 75 yards on 9 plays, capped off by an absolute dime from the rook to Jordan Matthews in the end zone:

• Wentz appears to have a decent command of the offense already. In the second quarter, the rookie audibled out of a play and hit Matthews near the right sideline for 28 yards. That wouldn't have been possible if Chip Kelly was still here.

• The defense came out very sharp, as Cleveland went three-and-out on their first three possessions:

• At the ripe age of 33, Darren Sproles is still someone you should try to avoid kicking to. On the other side of special teams, Donnie Jones (aka "Donnie Longball") uncorked punts of 67 and 72 yards to begin the game.

• Rodney McLeod made a crucial diving interception on a tipped ball (by Jordan Hicks) when Cleveland was driving to tie the game in the second quarter:

The bad

• After clearly winning the kicking competition over Cody Parkey this summer, Caleb Sturgis did not get his 2016 season off to a good start. On his first attempt, Sturgis missed from 46 yards out.

• The Eagles defense wasn't nearly as sharp in the second quarter. On their fourth drive of the game, they gave up some big plays (including a great 44-yard catch by Terrelle Pryor down the left sideline). The Browns might have taken advantage of a questionable pass interference call on Malcolm Jenkins, but Isaiah Crowell found the end zone to finish the drive.

• As you would expect with the rookie, Wentz battled inaccuracy and holding onto the ball a fraction too long at times. Still, he finished the half a perfectly acceptable 10-19 for 128 yards with 1 touchdown and 0 interceptions.

• The front four struggled generating pressure against Robert Griffin III, registering zero sacks.

The ugly

• It's only Week 1 for the refs, too:

• What the heck were Hue Jackson and the Browns were trying to accomplish on that fake punt? The play might not have been as ill-conceived as the Colts' infamous fake punt against New England last year, but it was close.


Follow Rich on Twitter: @rich_hofmann

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