PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — It didn’t take long for the patrons at Lincoln Financial Field—suddenly now the world’s largest quarterback incubator—to imbue Carson Wentz with comic book superhero powers.
The rookie Eagles quarterback did look good in his first series, going 4-for-5 (the one incompletion a drop), for 57 yards. He concluded the nine-play drive with a 19-yard touchdown.
Then, there was the inevitable wane. But Wentz wasn’t awestruck by it. He didn’t let it consume him.
At times, there were those flashes of brilliance, like his perfectly placed touchdown tosses to Jordan Matthews and Nelson Agholor. There were the times when his inner gun-slinger took command and he was able to squeeze completions through tiny windows.
Wentz showed poise. He showed accuracy. He showed he’s not afraid to throw between two defenders.
For someone whose football world was suddenly thrust into light speed, Wentz held up well, completing 22-of-37 for 278 yards and two TDs in his NFL debut (and a 101 QB rating) to lead the Eagles to a 29-10 victory over the woeful Cleveland Browns on Sunday.
It was interesting wave Wentz rode. He was injected with a great jolt of confidence during his first series, then showed all the warts rookies have, involving indecision, taking needless sacks and not taking his eyes off the intended receiver.
Then, you would see why the Eagles liked him in the first place, so much so to move up and take him second overall. Though there were times his feet weren’t set as they should be, he had great pocket presence, not afraid to stand in there and take a hit to deliver a pass.
What had to delight Eagles fans was the 35-yard, third-quarter TD pass to Agholor. It displayed his ability to connect on the deep ball.
But what the Eagles benefitted from most in their season opener was primarily playing the Cleveland Browns, the Western Illinois of the NFL, what Wentz was accustomed to seeing at North Dakota State.
The Browns had a chance to take the lead on their first drive of the second half, but Robert Griffin III then showed why the Washington Redskins gave up on him when he overthrew an open Andrew Hawkins in the third down.
That was it for the lowly Browns.
Cleveland committed a safety, when a snap flew over Griffin’s head. Their offense was a botched mess, led by a quarterback who is nowhere near what he used to be as recent as 2012. He has been a jumbled mess since his rookie year, and all of those horrible, drive-killing tendencies rose again.
With Griffin III, Wentz got a glimpse of what not to be, and what not to do as an NFL quarterback.
What also seemed very apparent is that Doug Pederson can coach and call a solid game. He mixed things up nicely for Wentz, confusing Cleveland while not overloading Wentz. He didn’t waste timeouts, like his mentor, Andy Reid. He gave Wentz the option to make sound decisions, which for the most part he did.
Defensively, the Eagles looked great. The forced a safety and had three sacks for minus-22 yards and picked off a Griffin III pass.
And it helps having punter Donnie Jones, who looked in amazing form, pinning the Browns inside the 20 three times.
So it was a solid debut for Carson Wentz, and a strong overall effort by the Eagles.
But again, it was the Cleveland Browns they ran over.