Carson Wentz led the Eagles to yet another 1-0 start in the regular season after defeating Washington 30-17 on Sunday at FedEx Field. The Eagles have now won five of their last six season openers on the road. The second-year quarterback displayed poise, accuracy, and the ability to scramble with elite athleticism finishing the game 26-of-39 with 307 yards and two touchdowns.
On the Eagles' opening drive, Wentz threw a near interception on a deep ball intended for Torrey Smith. On the next play, he was greeted by a hostile sack. On third down – where the Eagles struggled mightily last year – Wentz made a phenomenal play.
Wentz ducked and darted away from two sacks, scrambled away from a few more defenders, managed to find decent footing, and bombed a pass along the left side to wide receiver Nelson Agholor. His receiver would do the rest, shaking off Redskins safety D.J. Swearinger to cap off the 58-yard catch-and-run touchdown that gave the Eagles their first score of the season.
"A lot of it honestly is instinct. They ran a good coverage and just kind of things broke down and just made plays," Wentz said. "But that's something we've talked about all offseason. 'Hey guys, never die out there. Always stay alive. Get open.' And Nelson did a great job and I think we had another couple open guys as well and that's just a thing we'll kind of continually work on and be a big part of our game."
The 58-yard feed was the second-longest touchdown completion of Wentz's career and Agholor's longest score. Agholor played particularly well for the Eagles making six catches for 86 yards. Wentz took note of the third-year receiver's performance whose role will be a big part of this year's offense.
"I think it was big for him but honestly going back to the offseason I just saw a more confident player," Wentz said of Agholor. "I saw he was working and we would always talk about what he could do differently, different things. Just kind of see a new confident player and starting the season off the way he did today was huge for him."
Wentz became the first quarterback in Eagles history to throw a touchdown pass on the first drive of the season in consecutive years. And for the fifth time in his career, Wentz threw for over 300 yards. He made a habit of dodging sacks, scrambling to keep plays alive, and forcing the Redskins' defense to stay on the field all afternoon.
"It's tough on the secondary any time a quarterback can just extend plays and find guys down field. They have to cover for a long time and that can be really frustrating. Talking to our defense a lot during the spring and just how frustrating that is," Wentz said. "So again that's something we have to keep developing and being on the same page."
Although it was the much-improved Agholor who finished off the offense's play of the day, tight end Zach Ertz was Wentz's favorite target on the afternoon. Ertz hauled in eight catches to lead the team with 93 yards receiving including a tremendous 23-yard catch over the middle on third-and-10 after another remarkable Wentz scramble.
"Again that all just came down to improvise. The play broke down, had a free rusher, and (Ertz) was just on the same page as me. He saw the open zone there to just kind of take advantage of it," Wentz said. "And again that's something with Ertz, with Nelson, with Torrey, with Alshon (Jeffery), and really with everybody that we all just kind of worked on. Never die, never quit out there, the play is never dead."
Wentz already looks significantly more comfortable in his sophomore season leading the franchise. He made several deep tries down the field, far different from than the multiple short checkdown passes Wentz threw all last season. Given his improvement and the revamped receiving corps, the hope is that more deep plays like his touchdown connection to Agholor will occur with more regularity.
"I think it just shows that we're aggressive. Coach (Doug Pederson) is going to be aggressive. We're going to be aggressive. We're not going to just sit back and wait. We're going to try and make plays early and often and I love that about Coach Pederson. I love the way he called the game today. Came out aggressive right away and kind of just stayed on it," Wentz said.
Pederson thought the offense played "OK". Wentz was sacked twice and the Eagles' offense had its fair share of penalties. Couple that with the fact that the team had to generate a sizeable portion of offense out of broken plays, there is some room for improvement. However, Pederson was pleased his team was able to make the most out of bleak situations.
"You don't go in hoping your quarterback has to run quite as much but at the same time it was a point of emphasis during the spring and Training Camp. You know scramble drills and things of that nature," Pederson said. "An area we could get better at and the hard work paid off today."
The Eagles have already equaled their win total away from home last season. Wentz will try and duplicate the performance in Week 2 when the Eagles head out to Kansas City to play the Chiefs.
"Obviously a big win for us, last year we struggled on the road. Couldn't ask for a better opportunity to come down here, a divisional rival like this. It was so cool being out there," Wentz said. "The Eagles fans showed up in an amazing form, you know hearing the Eagles chant at the end. They traveled so well and that made it a lot of fun to play out there and getting this season off started like this, it feels really good."
The Philadelphia Eagles defeated the Washington Redskins, 30-17, at FedEx Field in their season opener. Check out photos from the victory.