Tuesday 20 February 2018 / 10:58 AM


It was a startling offseason for the Philadelphia Eagles, who shifted pace fast and hard following the firing of Chip Kelly.

There were few moments of the offseason for the Eagles that didn’t bring some form of debate. Kelly’s sacking was hotly contested, as some fans saw a system that needed some time to work. But once the front office had decided, it made quick work undoing the years of Kelly in Philly.

Kiko Alonso was traded, and personnel moves were quick and concise. The Eagles dealt a plethora of picks to move up into the top two and have their choice of their next franchise QB, before the Rams traded up to get number one.

And so instead, the Eagles were left with whomever the Rams didn’t select. Because they settled on their Golden Boy in Carson Wentz, Eagles fans showed quiet optimism…but even more worry.

New head coach Doug Pederson brought a new defensive style, and a seemingly run-oriented attack on offense apparently designed to deemphasize the QB. Not to mention the quarterback situation in front of Carson Wentz, with the newly-extended Sam Bradford.

Early in the offseason, we learned that the new regime believed in bringing along Wentz when he was ready, and that Bradford would be the starter for year one.

And then, as we know, things changed. Following Teddy Bridgewater’s injury in Minnesota, the Eagles saw the perfect hole to dump Bradford in, before installing the rapidly progressing Wentz as the starter.

From there, a star was born. Wentz looked shiny and new in his debut against Cleveland, but there were plenty of people (me included) there to pump the brakes, as the Browns featured one of the NFL’s worst defenses. Toss in the week two matchup against Chicago, and it was Wentz throwing against air.

He looked the part, but quality was the question. All along, it may have been the perfect situation. When Pittsburgh came calling, it was all Wentz knew how to do when he came out poised and ready – and the tested and maturing young QB looked as prepared as ever. The pressure was never too much for Wentz, who commanded the offense early and often, and didn’t let up in either half.

It drew some big praise. Steelers defensive lineman Cameron Heywardsaid that Wentz “looked like a freakin’ Hall of Famer.” Those kinds of appraisals are everywhere around the league, from teammates to opposition. And it’s come without taking chances. He’s taking what the defense gives him, and not taking chances into the secondary or in pressed coverage.

Wentz won’t make throws that wow you, but he won’t do anything that’ll make you shake your head. And that’s rare on both counts for a rookie billed this good. He’s not Cam Newton bombing deep passes in miraculous fashion, and he’s not Brett Favre rocketing the ball into double coverage.

He’s just Carson Wentz – and it seems to be working just fine.

But along with Wentz, Pederson has also brought a newfound commitment to defense. The Eagles D has been smothering and systematic, and we saw that in impressive fashion on Sunday as they suffocated the league’s best offense to just three points.

The Eagles ranked 30th in yards allowed, 28th in points allowed, and 29th in rushing yards allowed in 2015. This year, they are third, first and second respectively in those categories. To say that Pederson and Jim Schwartz’s new linebacker-focused defense has changed this Eagles D exponentially would be an understatement.

The Eagles are terrorizing opposing QBs, sacking ‘Big Ben’ Roethlisberger four times on Sunday. They’re tied for third in the NFL in sacks, and the coverage has been outstanding to create the pressure. It’s been a physical beat-down, and the entire make-up of this Eagles team has been altered.

“We whipped that ass, huh?” Eagles linebacker Brandon Graham said after the Eagles’ win.

Yes, you did. And I have a feeling you aren’t done yet.

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About the author

Austin Albertson

Austin is CBS' senior NFL and NBA analyst, bringing you commentary on everything between the lines and inside the hashes, from the film room to the scoreboard.

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