Before the Eagles' 29-10 win over Cleveland, head coach Doug Pederson and quarterback Carson Wentz shared a few moments together before kickoff at Lincoln Financial Field. Pederson made sure that Wentz took in the moment, savoring everything from his first NFL start. The head coach wanted the rookie to be calm and stay loose before the first whistle.
But that may have gone both ways.
"I don't know if it was more for me or for him," Pederson said after the game. "My nerves were a little high, as well. I was a little jittery going out there. I just wanted him to relax and take a look around and just see this. This is a great feeling before the football game … and I just wanted him to soak it all in."
Whatever the message from Coach Pederson was, Wentz heard it loud and clear. He dazzled in his NFL debut, completing 22 of his 37 passes for 278 yards and two touchdowns, without throwing an interception. In what was the first game for Wentz and for Doug Pederson in a head coaching capacity, Pederson had a game plan drawn up to get the offense, and himself in rhythm early. The Eagles executed perfectly all around, marching 75 yards in nine plays, capped off by a Wentz-to-Jordan Matthews 19-yard touchdown.
"I wanted to get (Wentz), and really the offensive line, settled into the football game. First two plays, we wanted to run the ball with potential throws attached to it, and then really just sort of let the game unfold from there.
"Then we got down into the red zone and he made a great throw to Jordan in the back of the end zone for the touchdown to finish it off."
One of the biggest plays on Sunday came with about six and half minutes left in the third quarter. The Eagles held on to a 15-10 lead. On fourth-and-4, Pederson elected to go for it. He put full trust in his rookie quarterback, letting him throw the ball in a clutch situation. Wentz delivered, hitting Ertz for 5 yards and a first down.
On the very next play, Wentz hit Nelson Agholor in stride for a 35-yard touchdown, bolstering the Eagles' lead and making sure Pederson's gutsy decision paid off.
"When you sit down and look at a lot of the math involved with the field position, the score, the time of the game, all the math just indicates when you're around that 30-yard line, you're right on the cusp of a long field goal," Pederson explained. "If you miss it, they get the ball at the 48-ish … Then if you do get (the first down), man, you're rolling. And we were so fortunate. Carson and Zach made a great play, so for me, it was just a great opportunity to keep our drive going."
Pederson and Wentz will forever share this day. For Wentz, his first victory in his NFL debut and for Pederson, his first win as a head coach at the NFL level. Both the coach and the quarterback shined on Sunday, but Pederson was quick to praise the rest of the team, along with his rookie quarterback.
"I'm just so happy for (Wentz) and his family and then the team," Pederson said. "They are so excited to get this first win, but again with Carson, how he handled himself with his maturity level was outstanding."
The Eagles opened their regular season at home against the Cleveland Browns and went home with the 29-10 victory.