PHILADELPHIA (92.3 The Fan) – Leading up to the NFL Draft the Cleveland Browns weren’t very impressed with Carson Wentz.
So they traded the No. 2 pick to Philadelphia.
Following Sunday’s 29-10 loss to Wentz and the Eagles, Browns players left Lincoln Financial Field very impressed with the rookie from North Dakota State.
“He’s awesome,” receiver Terrelle Pryor said. “That kid’s going to be a baller.”
It was the worst case scenario come to life for the Browns. But such is the way it goes for a franchise that no matter how hard they try, can’t seem to make the right decisions – especially at quarterback.
Wentz looked more polished than Robert Griffin III, who is now in his fifth season, did as he helped the Eagles rack up 403 yards in total offense to extend the Browns’ Week 1 misery to an NFL-record 12th straight season.
Wentz threw for 278 yards, completing 22 of 37 passes, including a pair of touchdowns in his NFL debut for the Eagles.
To say the praise for Wentz from within the Browns locker room was effusive would be an understatement.
“I’m no good at evaluating quarterbacks but all I can say is it didn’t seem like he played like a rookie,” left tackle Joe Thomas said. “He was standing back there even when he had pressure in his face getting hit and [was] throwing the ball on target. He was pretty impressive.”
Wentz wasn’t perfect but he sure showed that he has a bright NFL future if he stays healthy, while Griffin looked like he is very much a work in progress.
“I thought he did a good job,” head coach Hue Jackson, who tempored his praise of the rookie, said. “I thought they did a good job for the most part protecting him and he made some plays. And again, he won. So I thought he did some good things and it looked like he had some poise and was able to lead them to victory.”
The performance will certainly add fuel to the narrative that the Browns made a mistake by trading the No. 2 pick in the draft to the Eagles and committing to Griffin.
It didn’t take Wentz long to get the Eagles in the endzone as he drove Philadelphia right down the field completing 4 of his first 45 passes for 57 yards, including a beautifully thrown ball to Jordan Matthews for a 19-yard touchdown and 7-0 lead.
Matthews finished the game with 7 catches for 114 yards and the score.
“You can’t throw those any better,” Matthews said. “That’s all about timing, accuracy and poise.”
Wentz’s second TD toss was another thing of beauty as he dropped a ball right into the arms of receiver Nelson Agholor, who beat corner Joe Haden, from 35 yards out to extend to a 22-10 advantage with 6:17 left in the third quarter.
“He was more advanced than I expected him to be,” Haden said. “He is a good quarterback. He stands in the pocket, he is able to make all the throws, very patient, and does not take off running all the time. He looks down the field and picks his receiver that he wants to throw to.
“I definitely think they got a good one.”
Adding insult to injury is the fact that Wentz missed the final 3 preseason games to rest a rib injury sustained in their first preseason game while Griffin was able to get a full workload in camp and the preseason and it was Griffin who looked like the rookie.
Griffin and the Browns finished the afternoon with 288 net offensive yards. Griffin was 12 of 26 for 190 yards and an interception, which came off of a deflected ball at the line of scrimmage, in the loss.
The Browns had an opportunity to take the lead on their opening possession of the second half but Griffin overthrew a wide open Andrew Hawkins in the end zone and had to settle for a Patrick Murray 38-yard field goal and a 13-10 deficit.
The drive was set up thanks to a 58-yard deep ball to Corey Coleman with 3 Eagles defenders in the area. Luckily for Griffin, Coleman was able to adjust to the under-thrown football.
In the first quarter Terrelle Pryor caught a 44-yard pass from Griffin, another ball that forced the receiver to adjust and a great play made by the former Ohio State star.
Late in the fourth quarter Griffin failed to get out of bounds and he got drilled by Eagles cornerback Jalen Mills resulting in a sprained left shoulder that will be examined Monday.
While it was just one game and neither a career nor a season does it make, the early returns for the Browns are all too familiar.
“I never said we were going to go 16-0,” Jackson said.
After a disappointing performance in what was thought to be a very winnable game that saw them lose by 19, 0-16 is very much on the table.