The Philadelphia Eagles kicked off the Doug Pederson era defeating the Tampa Bay Buccaneers 17-9 in the team’s first preseason game. There was some key takeaways from the Eagles first preseason matchup and I take a look at all of them.
Carson Wentz isn’t starter ready
Ever since the Eagles made the move to acquire Wentz, fans and media members alike debate when he’ll finally become the Eagles starting quarterback. Wentz proved he’s not near that point yet, but looked fairly solid in his NFL debut. He finished the game completing 12 passes on 24 attempts for 89 yards and an interception.
Wentz started off his Eagles’ career leading the team during the last two minutes of the first half. Wentz played majority of the second half having some solid plays, but also showed his reoccurring accuracy issues he’s shown early in training camp.
The Eagles coaching staff continues to work with Wentz on his throwing mechanics and his adjustment to them is still a work in progress. Wentz was able to show the Philadelphia fans a glimpse of the future, but that future isn’t any time soon.
Eagles desperately need to upgrade the offensive line depth
The Eagles offensive line woes were a huge part of their disappointing 2015 season. Those issues could come to surface in 2016 as well. Jason Peters questionable health, along with Lane Johnson’s impending suspension could leave the Eagles bare at offensive tackle.
Matt Tobin filled in for Peters at left tackle with the first-team offense and played well, but was quickly pulled off the field and replaced by Andrew Garnder. Gardner was awful to say at the least, allowing pass-rushers to get by him freely. Stefen Wisniewski noticeably struggled taking over for Brandon Brooks at right guard, who left with a right bicep injury. Brooks is listed as day-to-day, but says he is fine and left the game as a precaution.
Doug Pederson says he believes the Eagles ‘have the bodies’ to provide offensive line help when needed. That didn’t appear to be the case in the team’s first preseason matchup and the depth will be heavily watched throughout the preseason.
Eagles receivers continuing to drop passes
The Eagles led the league in dropped passes last season (37). The team hoped the addition of Greg Lewis at wide receiver coach would help correct the issue, but so far in only the first preseason game, that’s not the case.
Nelson Agholor, Zach Ertz and Rueben Randle all had at least one noticeable drop during the game. Josh Huff fumbled his only catch. T.J. Graham dropped a wide open pass from Wentz also.
The Eagles need their receivers to step up and improving in pass catching if this team has any hopes of winning their divison. So far this early in training camp and the preseason, that doesn’t seem to be the case.
Eagles pass-rush will thrive under Jim Schwartz
The Eagles defensive line is the strongest group on the team currently. That showed during the team’s first preseason game. The attacking the quarterback scheme Schwartz brings to the Eagles was on full display in the Eagles victory.
The Eagles defensive line recorded five sacks, while holding Buccaneers starting running back to 26 rushing yards on 11 carries. The aggressiveness the defensive line showed pressuring the quarterback was promising, as the team hopes to continue that during the regular season.
Jaylen Watkins ready to become the Eagles’ third safety
Watkins was all around the football in the Eagles’ victory. He looks more fluid in the safety position after playing cornerback in the NFL for the past two seasons.
Watkins is poised for a larger role in the team’s defense and he proved that tonight. Don’t be surprised to see Watkins get more playing time as he continues to showcase his talent to the new coaching staff. If Watkins continues his high level of play, he’ll earn the Eagles third safety spot behind Malcolm Jenkins and Rodney McLeod.