Carson Wentz barely played for a quarter in the third preseason game Thursday, a 38-31 Eagles victory.
In the limited time, it appeared the Eagles were both satisfied with his production — 6-for-10 for 129 yards, two touchdowns and a pick — and very eager to get him healthily onto the sideline.
Nick Foles was inactive Thursday night and third string quarterback Matt McGloin has not impressed. Making it even more important for Philly to keep the second-year pro on the field when the season kicks off.
Here are three other things we learned in the game:
1. The offense can be great
The first team offense took the field and delighted concerned Eagles fans waiting to see the flashes of brilliance they had been waiting for since the team invested in Wentz weapons this offseason.
The first drive saw Wentz hook up with speedster Torrey Smith who caught a gorgeous strike for a 50-yard touchdown. The Wentz-to-Jeffery connection also looked to be, finally, on the same page as the two hooked up two times including a 15-yard touchdown pass late in the first to cap a 93-yard drive.
The running game too was much improved (relatively speaking of course) after gaining the fewest yards in football through the first preseason games, as the accumulated 154 yards, with the second and third team offenses helping Philly to an impressive 36:00 in time of possession.
2. The defense can be great
Ronald Darby is already a Philadelphia star and has shown he can be a shutdown NFL cornerback, making several impressive pass defenses. Fletcher Cox recovered a fumble after one of many hurries from the Birds’ potent pass rush.
Rookie corner Rasul Douglas also made his first big play of the preseason, a tackle for a loss of 11 in the second quarter. Later in the second, with their backs against the goal line Jaylen Watkins picked off Matt Moore and returned the ball more than 50 yards to keep Miami from extending its lead.
Mychal Kendricks had something to say Thursday too, following up his spectacular Preseason Week 2 performance with a third interception, returned for a touchdown after a C.J. Smith pass break up (putting Philly up 28-21).
On the third unit, Villanova’s own Don Cherry snatched an interception at midfield and zig zagged his way to the five-yard line in the most impressive play of his young career.
3. Neither one is actually great… yet
The first team defense allowed 14 points in one quarter of work and committed several penalties that would have proven costly in the regular season — highlighted by a pass interference call on Darby that led to an easy Dolphins touchdown at the goalline.
A typically ugly preseason game commenced and did not lack shortcomings for Philly, which turned the ball over several times — the most noteworthy a tipped pass interception thrown by Wentz that led to a Miami touchdown.
Philly committed three turnovers and 15 penalties (although just two of them occured when Wentz and the first team was on the field) — and despite collecting 428 yards of total offense there is clearly lots to work on on both sides of the ball.