RBs played a big part in Wentz’s fast coro­na­tion

Daily Local News (West Chester, PA) - - SPORTS - Rob Par­ent Colum­nist

PHILADEL­PHIA >> Car­son Wentz had one of the best de­buts any NFL rookie quar­ter­back could ex­pect to have Sun­day, fir­ing the first of his two touch­down passes on his team’s first drive, pil­ing up yards and frus­trat­ing de­fen­sive backs in front of him, ex­hibit­ing all game long the lead­er­ship abil­i­ties that moved Doug Ped­er­son to green light a trade of in­cum­bent starter Sam Brad­ford.

In the first op­por­tu­nity to judge that mi­nor front of­fice gam­ble, it would be sell­ing Wentz short to merely say he ex­ceeded ex­pec­ta­tions in a 2910 vic­tory over the Cleve­land Browns.

“Watch­ing the tape this morn­ing and go­ing back and watch­ing the guys, for him to have that kind of poise in the pocket for his first start and re­ally only hav­ing about four se­ries through­out the en­tire train­ing camp, you just can’t teach that,” Ped­er­son gushed Mon­day at his day-af­ter cel­e­bra­tory press avail­abil­ity. “And the pa­tience that he had to let re­ceivers come open; ... I re­mem­ber that one third­down play, he hit Jor­dan (Matthews) on a back­side dag­ger route. It just hung in there, hung in there, and it was a nice, tight win­dow throw.

“Those are the things you see from more veteran type quar­ter­backs, where young guys tend to want to scram­ble in those sit­u­a­tions. But his poise was tremen­dous . ... That’s just who he is.”

Wentz hit on 22 of 37 passes for 278 yards and the two scores. He had a passer rat­ing of 101. His first pass in an NFL reg­u­lar sea­son game was dropped by that same Jor­dan Matthews, who by the end of the day would prove there’s a rea­son why Wentz fa­vors him among all the re­ceivers.

Matthews wound up with seven catches for 114 yards and a touch­down. And on the sub­ject of the passes from Wentz — who has been crit­i­cized for throw­ing a wob­bly ball on more than the rare oc­ca­sion — Matthews said, “You can’t throw those any bet­ter. That’s all about tim­ing, ac­cu­racy and poise.”

It was about a cou­ple of other fac­tors, too.

For one, that was the Cleve­land Browns on the other side of the line. A team that won all of

three games last year and earned Bucks County na­tive Mike Pet­tine a spot on the coach­ing fir­ing line. Pet­tine’s still col­lect­ing a nice salary while sit­ting in his nice Ohio home.

The Browns are nice guy Hue Jack­son’s prob­lem now. And it might be tough for him to match that 2015 win to­tal if he con­tin­ues to do what he did for 20 min­utes or so af­ter the game Sun­day: Lay about 100 per­cent of the blame on him­self.

The first step to­ward coach­ing re­demp­tion should be at least hint­ing that your play­ers are wrong, no?

Any­way, other than the blame­less Browns’ in­abil­ity to de­fend, and even more im­por­tant than the Ea­gles’ line­men block­ing those Browns down, was the im­pact the Birds’ run­ning game had on Wentz’s first-game for­tunes.

Top back Ryan Mathews rushed 22 times for only 77 yards, which is 3½ per crack. But Mathews did get into the end zone on one carry, and more im­por­tantly ran hard ev­ery time Wentz needed him to change the pace of a drive.

The Ea­gles also got mean­ing­ful con­tri­bu­tions from backup back Ken­jon Barner (four car­ries, 42 yards) and veteran show­man Darren Spro­les (five car­ries for 12 yards; two catches for 24 yards), who did what he does best: Just a lit­tle of this and a lit­tle of that but it’s al­ways dan­ger­ous when­ever he does any­thing.

“I felt go­ing in that we would have the abil­ity to run the foot­ball, and I didn’t want to over­load Car­son,” Ped­er­son said. “I know he had 37 (pass) at­tempts. That’s quite a few. You try to keep it 30-ish if you can . ... (But) I think it’s a credit to our guys (that) the bal­ance was there. We had to throw it when we needed to throw it. We

made some great plays down the field.

“The run­ning game was re­ally, I mean, 133 yards, at the same time it was very close to even be­ing bet­ter than that.”

“There are things we could def­i­nitely im­prove upon,” Barner added. “What­ever the say­ing is, ‘It is never as bad as it seems, nor is it as good as it seems.’ I think we did a great job to­day, but there are al­ways things that you can go back, once you watch the film, and cor­rect and make bet­ter.”

From 10 dif­fer­ent video an­gles, how­ever, it was un­de­ni­able dur­ing the Mon­day morn­ing au­topsy that the Ea­gles’ run­ning game was ef­fec­tive in keep­ing the Browns guess­ing. That helped keep the heat off Wentz and al­lowed him to make fast reads.

Once that was es­tab­lished, there was lit­tle to stop a con­fi­dent kid quar­ter­back with all the tools and not enough ex­pe­ri­ence as yet to be overly cau­tious.

Now comes a trip to Chicago for a game on a much tougher team’s turf, and on Mon­day Night foot­ball. It’s Wentz’s first bigstage game.

No­body is say­ing now that it will in­evitably faze him, no mat­ter how much as­sis­tance he re­ceives from the block­ers, pass catch­ers and run­ning backs around him.

“You guys don’t see him on a daily ba­sis like we do, but he is a con­fi­dent guy,” Barner said af­ter the beat­ing of the Browns. “He be­lieves in his abil­ity and God has truly blessed him.

“What he did to­day was dis­play to the world what he dis­plays to us on a daily ba­sis.”

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from USA

© PressReader. All rights reserved.