Carson Wentz has accomplished enough in his four seasons with the Philadelphia Eagles to be regarded at least as a borderline member of the NFL’s elite class of quarterbacks. His performance in a Week 2 loss to the Falcons should add to his resume.
The Eagles began the game with their offense short-handed by injuries, and it was further decimated by injuries sustained during the game.
The Eagles still had a chance to win, but their final possession ended deep in Atlanta’s territory on a fourth-down pass completion that fell short of gaining a first down.
The leadership and determination shown by Wentz, an aggressive defense and the play of tight end Zach Ertz are part of what makes the Eagles a formidable opponent for the Lions on Sunday as follows – along with head coach Doug Pederson’s explanation on throttling back Wednesday’s practice:
Meet this week's opponents, the Philadelphia Eagles.
Wentz/patching holes: The Eagles started last week’s game without No. 2 tight end Dallas Goedert because of an injury sustained in the pre-game warmup, then lost their top two receivers – Alshon Jeffery and DeSean Jackson – during the game.
Jackson played 11 of the 81 snaps, and Jeffery played six.
Wentz completed 25 of 43 passes for 231 yards and a touchdown, with two interceptions. He was hit 10 times by the Falcons’ rush, with three sacks.
It was a new experience for Wentz to have so many in-game personnel adjustments.
“Some of the stuff tonight, you can’t make up,” Wentz told reporters after the game. “I’ve never seen guy after guy like that (go out) early in the ballgame, but guys stepped up. Guys were resilient.
“We came up a little short, but I’m proud of the guys tonight.”
On the Eagles’ last possession Nelson Agholor dropped a sideline pass at the two-minute mark that could have resulted in a go-ahead touchdown. Ertz was stopped at the 18, a yard short of the first down, in the final minute.
“Obviously, he’s a heck of a leader on and off the field,” Pederson said of Wentz in a conference-call interview. “He’s mentally and physically tough. We saw that Sunday night (in Atlanta).”
Pederson described in more detail the changes he made during the game in his Monday press conference with the Philadelphia media.
“If you look at my call sheet, you’re going to see a lot of scratch outs on plays and different things,” he said. “We’re moving guys.”
Walkthrough wounded: Pederson changed Wednesday’s practice to a walkthrough from a padded practice, as originally scheduled, in part because of injuries. It also was because the game after Sunday’s is on Thursday night at Green Bay.
Walkthroughs are common during the season, and the Wednesday tempo was not as leisurely as some have projected it to be, Pederson said.
“It’s not full speed,” he said. “It’s about 70 percent. I just call it a walkthrough. Jog through is probably a better term.”
Jim Schwartz effect: In four years as defensive coordinator, Schwartz has brought to Philly the aggressive mindset that was his trademark in five seasons as head coach of the Lions (2009-13) and other stops as coordinator.
“Our style is definitely that way,” Pederson said. “You see that in the play of the defensive line – how they come off the ball and roll off the ball in the blitz packages and things like that.”
The Eagles have just two sacks in two games, but the pressure will come at some point with players such as tackle Fletcher Cox and edge rusher Brandon Graham.
The loss of defensive tackle Tim Jernigan for what appears to be an extend period is a significant blow.
Ertz, THE tight end: Ertz has shouldered a heavy load in seven seasons with the Eagles, and nothing heavier than last season when he led all NFL tight ends with his career high of 116 receptions.
Ertz was a one-man position group in last week’s loss to the Falcons -- the Eagles’ only tight end active for the game. Goedert, the other tight end on the Eagles’ 53-player roster, was inactive because of an injury.
Ertz played all 81 offensive snaps, plus two on special teams. He had eight catches for 72 yards out of 16 targets and caught a pass for a two-point conversion that gave the Eagles a 20-17 lead with 3:13 left.
“He’s just such a difficult matchup,” said Lions defensive coordinator Paul Pasqualoni. “He’s so productive. The quarterback is just so confident and so comfortable with him.”