Carson Wentz, Eagles fend off Redskins in opener

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A new-look Redskins offense did not have enough cohesion to survive a relentless onslaught of blitzes and a gun-slinging Carson Wentz on Sunday in a 30-17 loss to the Eagles. Here’s what we learned …

1. I loved the way both teams started this game. Jay Gruden dialed up a deep ball to Terrelle Pryor (incomplete) on the first play from scrimmage while Carson Wentz and Doug Pederson countered with one bomb to Torrey Smith, who was being guarded by Josh Norman, and eventually, a 58-yard touchdown to Nelson Agholor. Although, to me, only the Eagles offense dovetailed into something practical. The team has myriad weapons and, like the Patriots, can almost downshift from fun and gun into something more powerful by the drive. Wentz isn’t yet the better quarterback, but his best receivers are helping to put him in better positions.


2. Why so down on the Redskins? Pryor had a difficult time establishing himself as a true No. 1 wideout today and Kirk Cousins needed it. The Redskins quarterback was constantly on the move and, aside from some heads-up plays from Ryan Grant, didn’t seem get more from his other wideouts than the standard route (tight end Jordan Reed, still on the mend as NFL Network Insider Ian Rapoport reported Sunday morning, gets a bit of a pass). The fact that we’re even talking about Pryor this way is impressive — let’s be clear. Some of his standard routes looked professionally crisp on Sunday, but as the broadcast crew mentioned, Pryor and Cousins are looking to establish that throw it up and I’ll find it relationship and we’re a long way from that. He was targeted 11 times on Sunday — almost double the next closest wide receiver.

Pryor dropped a huge ball on what looked to be a post route in the fourth quarter with 6:39 to go — at the time Washington was backed up against their own 1-inch line. Earlier in the game, he also flubbed a ball in the end zone that would have capped a spectacular long-range touchdown. However, he was spared from scrutiny there because Reed was called for a holding penalty.

3. Wentz (26-of-39, 307 yards, two touchdowns, one interception) does at least one thing every Sunday that makes him look 10 years more mature than he really is. The touchdown to Agholor we referenced above, which was prefaced by a blind scramble and instantaneous shuffle into open space to make the throw, was that moment on Sunday. Wentz still has brackets of time where all the athleticism and arm talent seems to ram into a wall; when the second-year quarterback is still pinballing. That being said, the potential for this offense is quite high if he can start to reign in the frantic plays.


4. The Ronald Darby (ankle) loss was a big one for Philadelphia. Guarding Reed, it looked like Darby just stepped awkwardly, unfortunately causing his foot to land at a downward angle and his ankle to buckle. His departure from the game signaled a momentary boon for Washington’s offense and allowed them to close an early gap. Don’t be surprised to see general manager Howie Roseman wheeling and dealing for more reinforcements — this is a team they believe in.

5. The Eagles get the ball with a short lead and 4 minutes of clock to kill. Their play calls? Blount, Blount, Blount. LeGarrette Blount seems like the only running back who will really take conventional carries in Pederson’s offense. Darren Sproles caught more balls than had rushing attempts and Wendell Smallwood wasn’t far behind.

6. A beastly Fletcher Cox rightfully capped the game by returning a fumble for a touchdown, but the true star of the game may have been the endearing blitzes hurled at Washington by Jim Schwartz. The aggressive defensive coordinator came out firing early and twice forced Cousins to fumble the ball. Cousins was never in rhythm Sunday.


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