September 19, 2016
Monday Night Football provides the Eagles with a national platform, but that extra 28-hour wait can be tough. There was a lot of skepticism in response to Carson Wentz’s sterling debut eight days ago against a bad Cleveland Browns team, and this was his chance for an encore.
Wentz was again impressive, but the Eagles settled for three field goals and a 9-7 lead over the Chicago Bears going into the locker room. Here’s what I saw in the game’s first 30 minutes:
• Doug Pederson’s game plan on the first drive was clear: Empty the backfield and let Carson throw the football. Wentz finished 8-9 for 45 yards on the first drive and Caleb Sturgis got a chip shot field goal when the drive stalled in the red zone.
• Also good: Pederson’s instantaneous decision to go for it on 4th and 2 at the Chicago 28. Wentz had time to go through his normal pre-snap routine, and he found Dorial Green-Beckham for a first down.
• Wentz did not have particularly great protection, and his footwork in the pocket was extremely impressive at times. He finished the half 15-24 for 141 yards, which included passes to six different Eagles receivers.
• Trey Burton was one of the standouts of training camp, and he contributed three catches for 36 yards in his season debut.
• As we suspected, the Eagles cornerbacks didn’t have a strong first half. Their tackling was suspect early on, as Eddie Royal took a couple of short passes for 39 yards.
• The Eagles offensive line also didn't play consistently well. Specifically, Jason Peters and Jason Kelce took a couple of holding penalties that submarined drives. Their run blocking wasn't great, either: The Eagles started the game with 10 rushing attempts for only 21 yards.
• Jordan Matthews, you have to catch this ball:
Jordan Matthews dropped this ball. pic.twitter.com/yysp6lLT6F— Brandon Lee Gowton (@BrandonGowton) September 20, 2016
• Ron Brooks made a terrific play to step in front of Jay Cutler’s pass on a third down in Eagles territory, but he failed to catch the ball. That should have cost the Birds three points, but…
• Connor Barth helped out:
No good. Bears K Connor Barth misses the 32-yard FG by hitting the left post.— NFL on ESPN (@ESPNNFL) September 20, 2016
Eagles lead, 3-0. pic.twitter.com/xtTOIHWZLn
• As good as Wentz was in the pocket, he really needs to figure out how to avoid unnecessary hits near the sideline as a runner.
• Forced into a major role by injuries, seventh-round pick Jalen Mills was absolutely torched by Alshon Jeffrey on a 49-yard reception that set up Chicago's touchdown. The Eagles front had pressure on Jay Cutler, which is the only reason it wasn’t a touchdown.
Follow Rich on Twitter: @rich_hofmann