Through two weeks, the Philadelphia Eagles have to be thrilled with what they've seen from Carson Wentz. Considered a bit of a project coming out of North Dakota State and expected to be the Eagles' No. 3 quarterback until about a week before the season opener, Wentz has come out and completed 43 of 71 passes for 468 yards, three touchdowns and no interceptions in the first two games of his NFL career.
Wentz has not been perfect. He badly under-threw Nelson Agholor on what should have been an easy touchdown early in the third quarter, to name just one notable missed throw. He has not exactly faced the toughest slate of opposing defenses (the Browns and Bears finished 29th and 31st, respectively, in Football Outsiders' defensive DVOA last season), either. But he has looked the part. He's flashed the arm talent, strength, and mobility that motivated the Eagles to trade up to the No. 2 overall pick and make him their quarterback of the future.
Wentz stared down the Chicago rush and delivered in the face of pressure multiple times on Monday night. He made throws from both inside and outside the pocket. He extended plays with his feet. He took some big hits and he got right back up. (The kid needs to learn how to slide, like yesterday.)
He's got the Eagles sitting at 2-0, tied with the Giants for first place in the NFC East. Philadelphia's point differential, which is generally a better indicator of team quality than actual win-loss record, is the best in the NFL. They've played the Browns and Bears, sure, but beating bad teams by a lot is what quality teams are supposed to do.
We don't know just yet if the Eagles are a quality team. We don't know just yet if Wentz is a quality quarterback. We need to see him tested by quality opponents first. Philly's schedule toughens up over the next few weeks; it'll be exciting to see what the kid's got in store for us.
He's already done something nobody else has ever done:
Full list of rookie QBs since 1970 to start & win team's 1st 2 games of season without throwing an INT:— Randall Liu (@RLiuNFL) September 20, 2016
That's it. pic.twitter.com/RzPY7XGLsl
You know Eagles fans have got to be happy about that.
Here are five more things to know about the Eagles' 29-14 win on Monday night.
2. The Bears training room just got super crowded
Five different Bears suffered injuries that knocked them out for the rest of the game:
- Safety Adrian Amos suffered a concussion
- Cornerback Bryce Callahan also suffered a concussion
- Pass-rusher Lamarr Houston sustained a knee injury
- Quarterback Jay Cutler injured his hand
- Defensive lineman Eddie Goldman injured his ankle
It was not pretty. Considering guard Kyle Long is already playing with a torn labrum in his shoulder and corner Kyle Fuller is still working his way into proper game shape following preseason knee surgery, it's a bit easier to understand why the Bears have struggled so much through two weeks.
Speaking of the Chicago struggling...
3. The Bears' running game is an abomination
Through two games, Chicago running backs have 38 carries for 137 yards. That's an average of 3.6 yards per carry. Starter Jeremy Langford has been especially bad, totaling 85 yards on his 28 totes (3.0 per). That's 37th among 44 qualified running backs.
The source of much of the struggles: the offensive line. Bears runners have averaged just 1.73 yards per carry before contact, per early data from Pro Football Focus, an awful number. If the Bears can't get things blocked up and help the running backs get farther downfield before first contact, the running game will likely struggle all year.
4. The Sproles-Mathews mystery
Ryan Mathews is nominally the starter at running back for the Eagles, but Darren Sproles was much more involved in Doug Pederson's game plan on Monday night. Sproles out-snapped Mathews 41-21, out-touched him 14-10, out-gained him 48-35, and even got a couple cracks near the goal line. Mathews ripped off a 30-yard gain with one of his touches and had a really nice touchdown run where he bounced off a few tacklers, retreated backward and then burst into the end zone, but was otherwise fairly uninvolved.
5. At least these guys played well
The Bears were not good in this game. But a few Bears deserve recognition for having done their jobs well. Alshon Jeffery, Eddie Royal, and Kevin White caught 13 of their 19 targets for 184 yards. Royal also returned a punt to the house in garbage time.
Defensively, Willie Young and Jerrell Freeman were also all over the place. Young notched seven tackles (five solo, two for loss) and a sack, while Freeman had five tackles (three for loss) and a pass defensed.
Cornerback Jacoby Glenn was thrown at seven times and limited the players he was covering to 25 yards. He was nearly burned for a touchdown on a double-move by Nelson Agholor but showed good speed to recover to an under-thrown pass and knock it out of Agholor's hands.