PHILADELPHIA (AP) — The other Philadelphia Eagles’ rookie under the microscope had an impressive debut, too.
Coach Doug Pederson made all the right calls in his first game in charge, including his bold decision to promote Carson Wentz in the first place.
Wentz stole the spotlight with an outstanding performance against the Browns, but Pederson helped make it happen. His game plan was excellent and it gave Wentz an opportunity to shine.
“I was excited for Carson, to see him play,” Pederson said Monday. “You want so badly for the guys to do well. But overall, felt really good and pleased with their performance. But from my standpoint, I was pretty calm.”
Pederson wasn’t a popular choice to replace Chip Kelly. Many fans wanted a big-name coach or at least one with a pedigree.
Instead, owner Jeffrey Lurie turned to a guy who had only been a head coach in high school. But Lurie was familiar with Pederson, who was a quarterback for the Eagles in 1999-2000 and an assistant coach under Andy Reid in Philly and Kansas City.
Pederson clearly knows offense. He called several formations, used various personnel packages and kept the defense off-balance. He relayed the plays quickly to Wentz, giving him time to break the huddle, get to the line and survey the defense.
One knock against Reid during his tenure in Philadelphia was wasting timeouts because the play clock was winding down.
“It’s tremendous for us to get the play into him quickly because we do a lot of kill package plays and it just gives him time at the line to see what he’s seeing defensively and then put us in the right play,” Pederson said.
The Eagles were balanced with run-pass plays and dominated the game by controlling the ball almost 40 minutes.
Time of possession was a sore topic the past three years when Kelly ran an up-tempo offense and the defense spent about 35 minutes per game on the field.
“The run game really helps in keeping your offense on the football field by keeping yourself in third-and-more-manageable, shorter situations that we had in the game,” Pederson said. “When you come away and look at (39) minutes of ball control, that’s great. You should win the game.”
Pederson showed he’s not afraid to gamble when he went for it on fourth-and-4 from the Browns 40 with a 15-10 lead in the third quarter. Wentz connected with Zach Ertz for a first down and tossed a 35-yard TD pass to Nelson Agholor on the next play.
“I know he has an aggressive nature about him,” Wentz said about the call. “I was pretty excited that he had the faith in me to call the fourth-and-4 play and put us in that situation.”
NOTES: TE Ertz has a first rib displacement and CB Leodis McKelvin has a left hamstring strain. Pederson said both players are “week to week” so it’s unlikely either will play next Monday night at Chicago.
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