Carson Wentz didn’t exactly wow fans with his preseason debut this past weekend – the No. 2 overall pick went 12-of-24 for 89 yards and an interception in a 17-9 win over Tampa Bay – but he did show something highly important.
“Carson Wentz showed that (he’s okay with) the speed of the game,” Philadelphia’s 94 WIP host Howard Eskin said on CBS Sports Radio’s Tiki and Tierney. “He’s coming from 1-AA, so obviously the speed of the game is different. It looked like he had some skills. Now, he made some mistakes. He was playing behind a terrible offensive line of backups. That’s one of the questions is their offensive line. So the excitement really centers around Carson Wentz. Outside of that, I don’t know that there’s anybody else that the fans are really excited about.”
Sadly, Wentz fractured his ribs in the win. He wasn’t going to start for the Eagles this year anyway, but it’s never a good thing when your first-round draft pick gets hurt in the preseason. Nevertheless, the Eagles will ask Sam Bradford to improve on last year’s 7-9 finish.
“I do like Sam Bradford,” Eskin said. “He’s got to get protection, like any quarterback, but I think Sam Bradford is better than people give him credit for. Is he a star? No, I don’t think he’s a star, but he does so many things right. Again, it’s got to happen in the game. He played well at the end of last year when he came back, and his team dropped more passes than any other team in football. It’s a joke. They’re wearing gloves. It drives me crazy. How do you miss a ball? I don’t get that.”
Only two Eagles – Jordan Matthews and Zach Ertz – had at least 400 receiving yards last season, and only Matthews had more than three touchdown receptions. Nelson Agholar, the 20th overall pick in the 2015 Draft, had a subpar rookie season, catching 23 balls for 283 yards and one touchdown.
“I don’t have the first bleeping clue who’s going to step up,” Eskin said. “Nelson Agholor is such a disappointment. He was (a first-round) pick. He’s got speed. I’ve seen him in the preseason last year. He’s got speed, I don’t think he’s a good route runner, and obviously he’s not doing a lot of the right things to take him to the next level. He better get to that next level this year, or he won’t be here the following year. At wide receiver, there’s certainly a question.”
At running back, meanwhile, the Eagles believe fifth-round pick Wendell Smallwood can complement Darren Sproles and Ryan Mathews.
“Ryan Mathews, if he stays healthy, he was better than DeMarco Murray,” Eskin said. “DeMarco Murray was too slow. I thought he was a stiff when he came here. He wasn’t that good. Ryan Mathews was good, but he’s never healthy. That’s a positive point if he stays healthy. You can see he’s got speed, he’s good, he’s strong.”
Still, it figures to be a tough year for the Eagles, as well as first-year head coach Doug Pederson.
“So far, he’s handled (the media) well,” Eskin said of the 48-year-old. “And honestly, even if it’s not a good year – because he’s got a pass this year because they know they’re waiting for Carson Wentz – I think he’s going to be able to handle it well. The players have accepted and are accepting what he’s doing at practice. They’ve accepted it because it’s new and it’s fresh. Change is really important in life for the pursuit of success, and the players, I think, really understand that.”
The players understand it, but the fans may not. Are they prepared for what could be a disaster of a season?
“No. That’s a simple answer. No, they’re not,” Eskin said, laughing. “The expectations now are lower than they were two weeks ago, so maybe whatever happens will be okay. Here’s the biggest problem: If they win four or five games, they don’t have their No. 1 pick next year. The draft will be in Philadelphia. So now you have the draft in Philadelphia . . . and the Eagles won’t have a No. 1 pick. If the Eagles have a bad year without that pick, oh my gosh – people are going to go nuts. But are they ready for a season that may not be that good? They’re never ready in this town. They are never ready. Maybe they won’t jump off the bridge because they know it might be bad, but if they think it’s going to be good and then it’s bad, then you got to close the bridges because these people are ready to jump.”