Philadelphia Eagles News

Big Question: Expectations For Carson Wentz

Dave Spadaro: I'm excited to see him. We all are. Carson has superstar talent. He plays at a different level than most of the quarterbacks in the league. That said, if there is some rust to knock off, it's understandable. Wentz has not played in a game since December 10, 2017. Let's show some degree of patience with him. That said, I don't expect Wentz to "turn this team around." I think the Eagles are in an OK place at 1-1. Not great, but they're fine. There is a lot of work to do to improve. Injuries have been a factor. I think the Colts will go after Wentz with pressure and force him to show that he can still get the ball out quickly and accurately and that he can move in and out of the pocket. It's not all on Carson here. The entire offense, as injury-challenged as it is, has to step up.

Fran Duffy: Doug Pederson said this week that "Carson is not Superman," and he's right, but I do think he'll have a great impact on the offense. Wentz loves to push the ball downfield, he's an anticipation thrower with great arm talent, and willing to make tight-window throws. He can make plays both within the structure of the offense as well when things break down. He was the best third-down passer in football a year ago before his injury. He was outstanding in the red zone. He's going to make everyone around him better. I'm excited for him to hit his stride.

Chris McPherson: There's a reason Wentz had the league's top-selling jersey in 2017, according to NFL Shop. He was must-see television week in and week out. We're fortunate to have one of the most dynamic players in the league. The game is better with Wentz on the field. I'm trying to temper my expectations for Sunday. I think his return will ignite his teammates and the team will rally around him. The players know Wentz can't do it all by himself. I will add that I thought Nick Foles played well enough to win last week in Tampa, throwing for 334 yards and a touchdown. We've already written about the slow starts, but need to be prepared if - IF - Wentz shows any rust early. Then again, he did score a touchdown on his first NFL drive in 2016 after missing the last three weeks of the preseason.

Dave Spadaro: Coordinator Jim Schwartz wasn't pleased with his defense on Sunday – he was critical of the team's technique and tackling – so I expect some renewed vigor on Sunday. Tampa Bay, as we said last week, has one of the most dynamic pass-catching groups in the NFL. The Colts are not in that category. I expect a much more complete defensive performance against an Indianapolis offense that doesn't have much of a running game. T.Y. Hilton is a great receiver, but he isn't surrounded by Pro Bowl talent, as Tampa Bay had across the board. The Eagles can win at the line of scrimmage and get to quarterback Andrew Luck. The question is, will Luck hold the football and try to extend plays with his legs or will he quick-release the ball in the passing game? If it's the latter, expect a much more aggressive approach from the coverage. If it's the former, Luck is going to have trouble avoiding the Eagles' pass rush.

Fran Duffy: The defense will respond well – there were a lot of self-inflicted errors in this game, just poor discipline in zone coverage, bad tackling, etc. These are things that they can fix and I expect they will. This defense always plays well at home. I expect a strong bounce-back performance against the Colts.

Chris McPherson: To add some numbers to Fran's final point, the Eagles have allowed just 12.4 points per game at home since the start of 2017, including playoffs. The Eagles are 16-3 at home since Doug Pederson was named head coach. With an amped-up crowd for Carson Wentz's season debut, I expect the Eagles' defense to rise to the occasion facing an offense that schematically will look similar to what Philly runs. I don't think Indy has as much firepower as Tampa Bay, but I do expect Frank Reich to get the ball out of Andrew Luck's hand quickly to offset the Eagles' pass rush.

Fran Duffy: This is still a pretty small sample size, first of all. Defensively they were outstanding in Week 1 and they gave up a touchdown on the first play in Week 2. Offensively they've been up and down through two games. I think it's a bit quick to start pointing at trends so far in a very young season. By Week 4, I think we can start looking at trends like that, in my opinion.

Dave Spadaro: Let's be honest: The offense has not been as dynamic, has not kept as many drives alive and just has not been as efficient. There have been some drive-killing penalties, way too many mistakes, and inconsistent play throughout the lineup. For the most part, punter Cameron Johnston's ability to flip the field and the defense's largely-good play (dominating against Atlanta, very good at times in Tampa) have kept the Eagles in games. That's really what it boils down to. The Eagles have been outscored 10-0 in the first quarter of their two games. Last season the Eagles scored 106 points in the first quarter of their regular-season games. They've got some catching up to do.

Chris McPherson: The one unique common thread is that the opponent received the ball first in both games to set the tone, and the Eagles were behind the eight ball immediately. Atlanta didn't score on its opening drive, but moved the ball to the goal line before turning it over on downs. Obviously, Tampa Bay went deep immediately. And not only did the Eagles score 106 points in the first quarter of games last year, they only allowed 48. That 58-point differential was the best in the league in 2017.

Fran Duffy: Woof. I may have to do a shot after reading this one. The team lost one game, on the road, severely outgunned offensively in a game where they made several crucial mistakes on defense and they were STILL within reach of winning the game. Let's pump the brakes a bit, chief. The defense picked up right where they left off in 2017 against the run, a stat that wins in the playoffs (58.5 yards per game and 2.85 yards per carry both lead the league). They have yet to allow a five-minute drive on defense. They're stout in the red zone. They have six sacks in two games. Offensively they're tied for the lead in the red zone (6-for-6) and are second in time of possession, and this is without their starting quarterback and top receiver and while missing other several key pieces on offense for much of the second game. This team is just fine.

Dave Spadaro: This is an overreaction. I really can't comment on the way you feel. I obviously disagree. I think this is the most talented Eagles team – on paper – that I've seen. Of course, injuries have eaten into that perspective, even for the short term. You would have to clarify your statement that "every single move made thus far has been awful." That's just not factually true.

Chris McPherson: I added this question for the laughs, but I appreciate that fans remain hungry after winning the title. Now, I've got to go calm Fran down.

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