Breaking down the Eagles, Week 3

A look at what the Steelers will be up against on Sunday afternoon at Philadelphia:


CARSON CITY:** Rookie QB Carson Wentz has completed 60.6 percent of his passes and hasn't thrown an interception on 71 attempts in his first two NFL starts.

The faith the Eagles have in him was evident when Philadelphia ran five consecutive empty-set snaps to open Monday night's game at Chicago.

Wentz went 21-for-34 passing for 190 yards against the Bears and is No. 27 in the NFL in average gain per passing attempt (6.59 yards).

His inclination is to throw it quickly and to throw it short, even sideways if necessary.

The Eagles' approach on offense seems to invite a tackle-the-catch response from the defense.

But three near-miss, down-the-field attempts against Chicago shed some light on the big-play potential Philadelphia has yet to consistently achieve in its passing game:

-Second-and-7, Chicago 16-yard line, first quarter: Wentz looked off the safety and had TE Brent Celek open against one-on-one coverage heading for the end zone. But rather than lead Celek to the post, Wentz threw right at him and without much air under the ball and beaten CB Bryce Callahan was able to come up with a diving pass defensed and deny the TD.

-Second-and-10, Chicago 35, second quarter: Wentz threw perhaps his best pass of the night for WR Jordan Matthews deep down the left sideline but Matthews dropped it at the pylon (another should-have-been touchdown).

The Steelers prepare for the week 3 matchup against the Philadelphia Eagles.

-First-and-10, Philadelphia 47, third quarter: Wentz executed a play-action fake on what became a rare seven-step drop and then fired deep down the sideline for WR Nelson Agholor, who went up for the slightly-underthrown ball at the Chicago 10. Agholor had it for a moment before CB Jacoby Glenn punched the ball from Agholor's grasp.

The big plays may or may not be just around the corner, but Wentz has already established a willingness to stay in the pocket and take hits to make throws and an ability to see or sense where the rush is coming from. He also has the freedom to change plays as he sees fit and he's already in the habit of moving up and down the line of scrimmage pre-snap, talking to linemen and positioning receivers and generally looking a lot like Peyton Manning used to in the shotgun.

Other comparisons are already being made.

"You can run any play you want," ESPN analyst Jon Gruden assessed late in Philadelphia's 29-14 win over Chicago. "Carson Wentz reminds me of (Kansas City's) Alex Smith. You can run the zone-reads. You can run any play you want to draw up. He's athletic, smart and he's extremely tough.

"You have to credit this offensive staff, starting with (head coach) Doug Pederson, the amount of trust that they have in this kid to let him do all he's done tonight at the line of scrimmage."

THE SCHWARTZ IS WITH THEM: Defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz is doing what he did in Buffalo, Detroit and Tennessee _ line the defensive ends up outside the offensive tackles and aggressively rush the passer with his front four.

It's known as a "Wide 9" and the idea is to get the ends up the field and force the quarterback to step up into a pocket that's being collapsed from inside pressure. When it works the quarterback is effectively trapped in a box.

The Eagles count on their athletic linebackers to make the plays in the running game.

They aren't a blitz-heavy team because they lack the speed in the secondary for one-on-one matchups, which puts a premium on the line getting done what it intends to on the rush.

KICKING THEMSELVES: As the Eagles were lining up to punt from their 12 with 5:30 left in regulation against the Bears, Gruden offered the following advice: "Better kick it outside the numbers."

Instead, P Donnie Jones blasted one down the middle of the field and PR Eddie Royal returned the ball 65 yards for a touchdown.

The play began with left gunner Josh Huff being brought back into the formation to help protect.
That left only right gunner Kenjon Barner to cover the punt.

Barner was 4 yards away when Royal caught the ball at the Chicago 35, but no other Eagles player was within 30 yards.

Royal jumped over Barner's attempt at taking out Royal's legs, started left and then cut back to the right. As he moved across the field toward the right sideline Royal avoided subsequent diving attempts by Barner, who had recovered and pursued, and by Celek.

When Royal got to the sideline and turned upfield he had an escort of six Bears teammates waiting.

K Caleb Sturgis is 5-for-6 on field goals (with a long of 53 yards) and 5-for-6 on extra points.

RB Darren Sproules has averaged 14.8 yards on four punt returns.

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