August 10, 2017
The last time an Eagles quarterback looked this impressive in the preseason, the team playing the Packers at Lambeau, just like it was on Thursday night. That was Sam Bradford back in 2015, when he carved the Green Bay secondary up, going 10-for-10 and throwing three touchdowns ... all in the first quarter.
But Carson Wentz didn't get the chance to play out the rest of the first quarter on of the Eagles preseason opener – and for good reason.
He finished the night 4-for-4 for 56 yards and a touchdown on the Eagles opening drive.
And with a lot of the talk this past week regarding the unexpected battle between contender Nelson Agholor and reigning starter Jordan Matthews for the slot receiver spot, Wentz's perfect drive served as a much-needed reminder as to why Matthews is not only one of the second-year quarterback's favorite targets, but also led Eagles wideouts in receiving yards and touchdowns each of the last two seasons.
We'll start with a big third down conversion early in the drive, even though Matthews had already recorded a reception, a five-yarder on the Birds' first offensive play of the night.
What you can't see here, and is almost as important as Wentz's faith in Matthews is what happened just before the snap. Matthews clearly recognized his man was blitzing, signaled that out to his quarterback, and it was a quick toss and run for a first down.
Last season, Agholor looked lost sometimes in pre-snap situations. Matthews is adjusting the play and helping convert a third down. That's huge.
Then there was this even bigger conversion a few plays later, this one on fourth down.
Wentz stepped up in the pocket, avoided the sack, and hit Matthews for seven yards and a first down.
4th down conversion 👀 pic.twitter.com/qm5aflFANW— chris jones¯\_(ツ)_/¯ (@LONG_DRIVE) August 11, 2017
Another first down.
That was it for Matthews, who didn't post big numbers (three receptions for 18 yards), but was arguably the biggest reason the Birds didn't wind up punting (or turning it over on downs) on their first drive.
But it wasn't it all for Wentz, who connected with rookie Mack Hollins for this beautiful 38-yard score.
Can we see that stiff arm again, please?
I could watch this stiff arm for days pic.twitter.com/UAmrMx6Ty9— chris jones¯\_(ツ)_/¯ (@LONG_DRIVE) August 11, 2017
One more time?
Not since Street Fighter's Ehonda hundred hand slap have I seen such violent hands 😂 pic.twitter.com/3bcKqhiZWj— Gayle Saunders (@EagleSessions) August 11, 2017
" Mack Hollins Steals a Man's Soul" -- a four-part play. pic.twitter.com/kOl1KwSBxi— Will Brinson (@WillBrinson) August 11, 2017
It's also worth noting what Wentz did to buy himself some time and make that throw.
Carson Wentz turned this pressure into a TD: pic.twitter.com/8UT8ms1hBD— Zach Berman (@ZBerm) August 11, 2017
In case you're wondering where Nelson Agholor fits into all this, it wasn't pretty, with his only action prior to the touchdown coming on a jet sweep that went for a one-yard loss. And it didn't get any better from there.
Wentz targeted Agholor on a two-point conversion attempt following the touchdown.
Here's a freeze frame of the 2-pt conversion attempt, Wentz to Agholor: pic.twitter.com/kVnYlH2egw— Zach Berman (@ZBerm) August 11, 2017
Agholor failed to record a reception in the game – Matt McGloin took over for Wentz, but Agholor only remained in the game for a few more plays anyway. Not the best way to follow up a strong showing in camp that had many wondering if he would resume a starter role this season.
As for Matthews, the guy whose job Agholor is gunning for...
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