A few thoughts/notes to add before tomorrow’s game:
- Obviously, the focus is on Wentz. The Bears present a tougher challenge defensively than Cleveland (we think), especially on the road in primetime. Wentz has looked very poised thus far, so I doubt the MNF aspect will matter much. The real question for me is: Will Wentz continue to throw into tight coverage windows? The most impressive part of Went’s debut was his willingness and ability to make throws to receivers that were less than wide open.
Not the best angle, but here is the first Wentz TD throw, at the moment of release. Matthews is the blurry WR in the lower left corner. That’s relatively good coverage, and Wentz still saw the opportunity, took it, and made a perfect throw.
Here is a shot put together by @NFLosophy showing the coverage on Went’s 3rd down conversion to Matthews:
Again, the coverage is good, and many QBs (ahem..Bradford), wouldn’t have made the throw. Perhaps Wentz made the wrong read here. However, the fact that the scenario shown above was a conversion opportunity for Wentz suggests there is huge upside for him as a player. If that’s all the window he needs, he’s going to be extremely difficult to defend, regardless of who his recievers are.
Keep any eye one whether he attempts/completes passes into similarly tight coverage tomorrow night.
- One of the main reasons I was not too confident in the team this year (I predicted 6-10), is that the OL seemed to be a big weakness. In particular, I was worried about the continued decline of Jason Peters. However, in week 1, Peters looked close to his old self. If Peters can indeed bounce back from last year, despite his age, the outlook improves considerably. On the negative side, Jason Kelce looked awful. Pay close attention to each of them tomorrow night
- Is the Eagles WR corps better than I thought? In other words, was Sam Bradford making them look bad? As shown above, Wentz was able to create opportunities for the WRs even in tight coverage. Nelson Agholor looked like a legitimate receiver, if only on go routes, and Matthews looked like a good #1. I’m still skeptical, but am anxious to see more evidence in favor of this. Attributing results properly between QBs and WRs is really difficult if you don’t have the time to go through every throw multiple times on replay. Moreover, even that won’t show you all the counterfactuals; all of the opportunities that existed but weren’t taken. For example, in the above screenshot: if Wentz doesn’t make that throw, nobody reviewing the tape would have called that a missed opportunity. And yet, it turned into a long completion and a big third down conversion.
- Can the Eagles cover Alshon Jeffery? Although Cleveland looked somewhat respectable on offense today versus the Ravens, it seems clear that the Browns are fielding one of the worst offenses in the league. In particular, they don’t have any players that pose significant individual match-up problems. Certainly nobody like Jeffery. 6’3″, 218 lbs. And he runs a 4.48 40 yd dash. He averages 8.5 targets per game, with a 57.9% catch rate and 15 yards per reception. We’re all hopeful that the Eagles defense will be a strength of the team both this season and in the near future. The Bears and Jeffery will provide a better measuring stick than the Browns did.
- Will Doug Pederson stay aggressive on 4th down? Last week, the Eagles were up 15-10 in the 3rd quarter when they faced a 4th down with 4 yards to go for a first down at the Cleveland 40 yard line. Pederson went for it and the team converted. But it wasn’t a hard decision. Actually, it was a fairly easy one as far as those decisions go. Still, it’s encouraging to see Pederson get the easy ones right, especially in his first game. But will he make the right decision when it’s not so clear? With all of the focus on Wentz, Pederson isn’t getting enough attention. Tomorrow night should be a closer game. If that’s the case, we should be able to learn a lot more about what kind of coach Pederson really is.