BITTER BIRDS
Baked Brownies: Eagles vs Browns Week 1 NFL Preview
EDP joined the panel this week for our Eagles vs Browns Week 1 preview. What should we expect from Carson Wentz, how will Doug Pederson utilize him and what the Eagles need to do to win the game. Wentz couldn’t have picked a better team to debut against than the Browns. The defense is an abomination, especially when stopping the run. I’ll get to that later. The Browns don’t have a scary pass rush and the front seven isn’t very talented, so you’d think Wentz should be able to handle himself. Their primary pass rushers are a pair of rookies, second-rounder Emmanuel Ogbah and fourth-rounder Joe Schobert. Defensive coordinator Ray Horton, however, is known to be an aggressive play-caller that likes to bring the heat and that’s where the chess match comes into play against a rookie who was in the FCS last season and appeared in just one preseason game. He likes to show multiple fronts and blitzes from all angles How is Wentz going to handle the blitzes and the disguised coverages? As smart as Wentz is and as calm and composed as he appears to be, there will be rookie mistakes. It’s all about limiting those mistakes. From a play-calling perspective, you’d also think an already-conservative Pederson would be even more so. Sure, you can still take some shots down the field, but I’m expecting Pederson to keep Wentz’s progressions basic so he can easily get through them. Expect screens, quick slants, curls, crossing patterns and stop routes. Coupled with just 23 starts and 612 pass attempts at the FCS level, Wentz appeared in only one preseason game after suffering a hairline fracture in his ribs in the opener against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. It was an up-and-down performance which showed flashes of why he was drafted No. 2 overall. Wentz completed 12-of-24 passes for 89 yards and an interception to go along with 15 yards rushing on three carries. Although the numbers may indicate otherwise, I thought it was a solid debut for the North Dakota State product. His ball placement was good despite some errant ones which sailed on him. He played with calmness, poise and made smart decisions. Wentz’s accuracy and zip on the move was on full display. If the Eagles can dominate the line of scrimmage with their offensive line against that lackluster Cleveland front seven, this will only help take the pressure off of Wentz. With Lane Johnson not suspended as of yet, Philly needs to use tandem of right guard Brandon Brooks and the right tackle Johns0n to its advantage in the running game. While the offensive line did see some struggles in the passing game during the preseason, so much so that Pederson elected to have the quarterbacks take quick drops instead of deep ones, the run blocking wasn’t a problem. And to take it even further, let’s go back to the three tight-end sets. You can line up Zach Ertz, Brent Celek and Trey Burton to the right of Brooks and Johnson and just let Ryan Mathews go to work of the right side of the line. He’s a patient and decisive one-cut runner that seems to fit the offense to a tee. Former No. 2 overall pick Robert Griffin III is head coach Hue Jackson’s latest project after his injury-riddled campaign with the Washington Redskins came to a close when they elected to go with Kirk Cousins. Despite the fallout in Washington, RGIII might be the most talented quarterback the franchise has had in years. That’s not saying much, check out some of the former first-round busts. Johnny Manziel picked partying over football, while Brandon Weeden and Colt McCoy weren’t the answers. Griffin still has great mobility and a big arm, it’ll be up to Jackson to get the most out of him. He helped Andy Dalton have the best year in his career last season in Cincinnati, there’s no reason he can’t do the same with RGIII.