As much as I enjoy doing the rapid reactions either during, or directly after game day, I really like doing them a few days later after I’ve had some time to re-watch the game and digest. Watching the all-22 tape (coaches film), is a big difference as opposed to watching a Sunday broadcast. After re-watching the game and taking a look at the coaches film, there was plenty to be happy about, but also a few things to be concerned about. We’ll start with the concerns, and close it out with the positives. And don’t worry, there were plenty of positives.
Areas of Concern
In 2013, Mychal Kendricks had the look of a budding superstar, but it’s been a pretty rocky road since then. That rocky road continued on Sunday when Kendricks was only on the field for 19 snaps, this equated to 37% of the total snaps. We all remember Kendricks’ massive struggles on Thanksgiving last year against the Lions, mainly Theo Riddick out of the backfield, apparently Jim Schwartz remembered that too. The Browns deploy a spread offense with Duke Johnson Jr. often catching passes out of the backfield, so this could have had something to do with Kendricks’ lack of playing time. It’s also worth noting, Kendricks didn’t make a single tackle during his 19 snaps on Sunday. This is definitely something I’ll be watching on Monday Night Football against the Bears.
I’ve been one of Kelce’s biggest supporters after a couple of down years, especially last year. However, after watching the All-22, Sunday was not a good day for Kelce. He was consistently being blown off the ball 2-3 yards into the backfield and really had no answer for it. Last year, I suspected it was subpar guard play that was hurting Kelce, now I’m starting to think that NFL coordinators have figured out. Kelce is an athletic, but undersized center, that excels while blocking in space. With coordinators starting to line bigger defensive lineman over the top of Kelce, he seems to have no answer. With a possible Lane Johnson suspension looming, this could develop into a much bigger story throughout the season.
Eagles Wide Receivers
I can’t even believe I’m writing this. Granted, it was the Browns, but last I checked, Joe Haden is a pretty good corner. The wide receivers played pretty damn well, especially Jordan Matthews. After this position group looking like an absolute dumpster fire in the preseason, they played pretty well. Again, it was the Browns, but it’s still an NFL defense with their starters in. Even Nelson Agholor had a touchdown, that’s just a good day.
I absolutely loved what I saw on both sides of the ball from a game planning standpoint. While Carson Wentz got much of the accolades (we’ll get to him), Doug Pederson had himself a pretty nice NFL debut as a Head Coach. Doug deployed a very balanced attack with 34 runs and 37 passes, he also dominated the possession battle almost 40 minutes to 20 minutes. It was really nice to be on the right side of that after 3 years of Chip. Doug put Wentz in good positions to make plays, made sure he stayed committed to the run, and moved his best receiver (Jordan Matthews) around to create mismatches.
Jim Schwartz continues to build trust and faith with this fanbase. While the pass rush wasn’t 100% dominant, the defense played very well as a unit. Cox, Graham, and Barwin all had sacks and the McLeod had a nice debut with an interception. The Browns aren’t exactly an explosive offense and were missing their most explosive weapon, the Eagles still did a nice job keeping them under 300 yards of total offense.
Yes, it was the Browns. No, I’m not proclaiming Hall of Fame for Wentz, or Super Bowl for the Eagles, but this was absolutely something to get excited about. Wentz looked cool, calm, and collected at the line of scrimmage. He was breaking out “kill” calls, hard counts, and checking off at the line on a regular basis. Those were all the cerebral and composure traits we’d heard so much about, but we also saw the physical tools as well. Not only did he throw some absolute darts while seeing blitzes, but he also dropped in 2 absolute dimes on touchdowns to Matthews and Agholor. I typically caution fans getting too excited after something like this, but not this time, enjoy the excitement, I think it’s here to stay with Wentz.