Jesse Pantuosco

Football Daily Dose

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Dose: Eagles Soar to 2-0

Tuesday, September 20, 2016


The Eagles, No. 29 in my initial power rankings, are 2-0 after beating the Bears Monday night at Solider Field.

 

My bad, guys.

 

While the Eagles may not be the cream of the NFL crop, their early-season success is not unthinkable. Quite the contrary. It was expected. Nobody has had an easier slate of games in the first two weeks than Philadelphia. Last week’s opener came against a Browns squad that won’t be favored in any game they play this season (they’re also burning through a record number of quarterbacks). The Bears, while not as doomed as Cleveland, are in a similar rebuilding mode. Monday’s catastrophe showed they still have a long way to go.

 



But rather than focus on Philadelphia’s cupcake schedule (the degree of difficulty takes a big leap next week against Pittsburgh), let’s talk about Carson Wentz. Faced with an endless string of doubters (the Browns’ front office was so anti-Wentz that they fired scouts who disagreed), the rookie signal caller continues to prove that he belongs. Wentz completed 21-of-34 passes for 190 yards and a touchdown on Monday while adding another 10 yards on six carries.

 

None of his numbers jump off the page but Monday Wentz passed the eye test with flying colors. Wentz seemed unfazed by blitzes, continuing to make great throws under heavy pressure while taking excellent care of the football. The 23-year-old has yet to commit a turnover in his young career and is building strong chemistry with go-to receiver Jordan Matthews. Through two games, Matthews has hauled in 13-of-23 targets from Wentz for 185 yards and one touchdown.

 

During the broadcast, ESPN analyst Jon Gruden mentioned that Wentz reminded him a lot of Chiefs quarterback Alex Smith. That’s by design. Doug Pederson was the Chiefs’ offensive coordinator before he landed the Eagles’ head coaching job this offseason. During his three-year stay in Kansas City, Pederson favored a slow, methodical offense, focusing on short passes while trying to limit turnovers.

 

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While Pederson and head coach Andy Reid caught flak for being overly conservative, the scheme played to Smith’s strengths while masking his weaknesses. That seems to be the plan in Philadelphia as well as Wentz was rarely asked to throw deep on Monday night. Of course, the training wheels could come off if Wentz continues to excel. He carries far greater upside than Smith, who has settled in as a middle-of-the-pack NFL starter.

 

If Wentz wants to be a fixture in Philadelphia, he’ll have to stay healthy. Wentz was quick to tuck-and-run on Monday night, which isn’t a bad approach if done safely. However, Wentz repeatedly failed to get out of bounds and paid the price for it by taking a number of unnecessary hits. Wentz’s athleticism is one of his biggest weapons, but he won’t be able to use it if he continues to put himself in harm’s way.

 

Wentz could have had a much bigger night. The Eagles let their quarterback down with a number of drops including one that should have been a 35-yard touchdown for Matthews. The Eagles are a thin group at wideout and Monday’s drop parade only reinforced that belief. Aside from Matthews, the Eagles feature Nelson Agholor, a 2015 first-round pick who has mostly disappointed, and Dorial Green-Beckham, a player the Titans gave up on after one middling season. Those two combined to catch six-of-11 passes Monday for 60 yards and no touchdowns.

 

Wentz’s only touchdown throw of the night went to Trey Burton, who was starting in place of injured tight end Zach Ertz (ribs). The Eagles used a balanced attack with 34 passes and 32 rushing attempts. Though Ryan Mathews was out-touched by scat-back Darren Sproles, Mathews satisfied fantasy owners by punching in a pair of goal-line touchdowns.

 

Meanwhile Chicago’s offense stalled, particularly in the second half when the Bears were held without an offensive touchdown. Eddie Royal did grace the Bears with a 65-yard punt return touchdown in the fourth quarter. Perpetually disinterested Jay Cutler looked as lethargic as ever, coughing up a second-half fumble before heading to the locker room with an apparent hand injury. His final throw of the night was picked off by linebacker Nigel Bradham, who nearly took it back for six. Cutler tried to force the ball to Alshon Jeffery on the play.

 

While Jeffery finished with 96 yards, a decent night by most standards, more than half of his yardage came on a deep completion early in the second quarter. Jeffery (or Jeffers, if you prefer) blew past rookie corner Jalen Mills on the play and appeared to have a clear path to the end zone with nobody back to help Mills. Unfortunately the ball was underthrown, forcing Jeffery to retreat to the five-yard line, where he was eventually tackled. Jeremy Langford finished the drive with a one-yard touchdown three plays later.

 

Despite the touchdown, Langford’s night was an all-around disappointment. After barely averaging three yards per carry in Week 1, Langford somehow stooped lower by totaling just 28 yards on 11 carries in Monday’s defeat (2.5 ypc). Sixteen of those yards came on one run, meaning that Langford averaged just 1.2 yards per carry on his other 10 rushes. Langford seemed destined to end the night on the bench and fulfilled the prophecy by committing a careless fourth-quarter fumble. Jordan Howard picked up the slack, rushing three times for 22 yards with Langford watching from the doghouse.

 

Even last year when Langford rewarded fantasy owners with seven touchdowns, his inability to shed tacklers or gain yards after contact were major concerns. Not much has changed as Langford continues to score touchdowns while hurting our eyes with his painful inefficiency. Now that Langford has been exposed, Howard and Ka’Deem Carey can expect to see a bigger piece of the rushing load going forward.

 

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Quick Hits: Adrian Peterson suffered a torn meniscus in Minnesota’s Week 2 win over Green Bay. With Peterson likely out for Week 3, the Vikings are expected to employ a committee featuring Matt Asiata and Jerick McKinnonRandy Gregory has dropped his appeal and will begin serving his 10-game suspension for violating the league’s substance abuse policy. He still has two games left on his current suspension, meaning he won’t be eligible to return until Week 16 … After taking a beating in Week 2, Josh McCown will miss the Browns’ next game against the Dolphins with a shoulder injury. That paves the way for third-round rookie Cody Kessler to make his NFL debut. Dating back to last season, the Browns have used five different starting quarterbacks over their last five games … Ameer Abdullah will head to North Carolina Tuesday to visit Dr. Robert Anderson, who is considered one of the leading foot specialists in the field of sports medicine. Abdullah sprained his left foot in Sunday’s loss to Tennessee … 49ers coach Chip Kelly said he hasn’t considered a quarterback change despite Blaine Gabbert’s early-season struggles. Gabbert’s backup, of course, is Colin Kaepernick … Colts slot corner Darius Butler is dealing with a Grade 1 hamstring strain. He suffered the injury during an interception return Sunday in a loss to Denver … Donte Moncrief underwent an MRI on Monday. He left Sunday’s game with a shoulder injury early in the second quarter after taking a hit from Broncos safety T.J. Ward … The Chargers beat the Jaguars Sunday but lost Danny Woodhead to a torn ACL. This comes one week after top receiver Keenan Allen went down with the same injury. Woodhead’s absence will open up more work for Melvin Gordon, who already has three touchdowns this season … The Redskins have placed starting nose tackle Kedric Golston on injured reserve. Golston injured his hamstring in a loss to Dallas … Arian Foster left Sunday’s loss to New England with a groin injury. Dolphins coach Adam Gase is calling him day to day, though Armando Salguero of the Miami Herald reports that Foster will miss at least one game … Chiefs coach Andy Reid won’t commit to Jamaal Charles (knee) returning for Week 3. Charles, who missed most of last season with a torn ACL, will likely share work with Spencer Ware upon his return … Virgil Green’s MRI revealed a strained right calf. The Broncos are calling him day to day … Eric Decker received treatment for a sore shoulder at Monday’s practice. Decker lit the Bills up for 126 yards in Week 2 and has now scored a touchdown in six straight games dating back to last season … Panthers coach Ron Rivera expects Jonathan Stewart to miss “a week or two” after hurting his hamstring against the 49ers. Stewart’s replacement Fozzy Whittaker should be a popular waiver add after collecting 131 yards from scrimmage (100 rushing, 31 receiving) in Week 2 … The Seahawks were hit with heavy penalties Monday for “excessive off-season workouts” stemming from an incident on June 6. The NFL fined them $400,000 while also taking away the Seahawks’ fifth-round draft pick in 2017 and making them forfeit a week of OTAs next offseason. Coach Pete Carroll was hit with a $200,000 fine. The Seahawks committed a similar violation two years ago, which resulted in a $300,000 fine and two lost practices … Rashad Jennings will be limited when the Giants return to practice on Wednesday. Jennings only played 34 snaps Sunday after injuring his left hand/thumb against the Saints … Julio Jones has been diagnosed with a calf strain. He sat out the team’s final series Sunday against Oakland … Kelvin Beachum was released from the hospital on Monday and will join the team back in Jacksonville. He remains in the league’s concussion protocol and is questionable at best for Sunday’s game against Baltimore.



Jesse Pantuosco is a football and baseball writer for Rotoworld. He has won three Fantasy Sports Writers Association Awards. Follow him on Twitter @JessePantuosco.
Email :Jesse Pantuosco



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