Surprising Eagles ride Wentz, defense to 3-0 start
- The Philadelphia Eagles are off to a surprising 3-0 start.
- The Eagles are coming off a 34-3 dismantling of the Pittsburgh Steelers.
- The Eagles' defense has allowed just 20 points, excluding a punt return for a score.
PHILADELPHIA — Carson Wentz has already been compared to Aaron Rodgers, Brett Favre and Peyton Manning, the defense is dominating, and the Philadelphia Eagles are 3-0.
No one saw this coming except maybe coach Doug Pederson.
“I told the team way back in OTAs that it just takes a little bit of belief; belief in themselves, trust the process, believe in the coaches and the coaches believe in one another,” Pederson said. “Am I surprised? A little. But at the same time, I know that locker room, I know those guys and I know what they are building. By no means have we accomplished anything yet, the season is still extremely young. But what they did (against Pittsburgh) just proves that they are coming together as a football team.”
The Eagles dismantled the Steelers 34-3, shutting down Ben Roethlisberger and a high-powered offense and having their way with a defense that’s been cruel to rookie quarterbacks — 19-2 against them since 2004 — not named Wentz.
So forget about rebuilding. This team is a contender now. Still, it’s only three games.
“I thought we were very underrated in the media’s eye, which honestly it seems like our team always does better when the media doesn’t expect us to do well,” center Jason Kelce said.
Wentz, the No. 2 overall pick, gets most of the credit for Philadelphia’s fast start. He deserves praise not only for his performance but his leadership ability. It’s remarkable for a 23-year old who played at an FCS school.
“Being 10 years in, this kid is inspiring me,” tight end Brent Celek said. “He’s adding youth to my game just by the way he’s acting, being in the huddle, taking command, it’s beyond impressive; it’s great. We have to keep it going. I’m not going to sit here and say we’re the greatest team, but I’m excited with how he’s playing and he’s elevating everybody else’s play by the way he’s handling it.”
Then there’s Jim Schwartz’s defense . A unit that ranked in the bottom five each of the past three seasons has allowed the fewest points (20) in the NFL, excluding a punt return for a score.
“The first day, Jim said: ‘This is how we’re going to do it. And I’m going to give you the tools that you need, but you guys need to own this defense. You guys need to take this over,’” cornerback Nolan Carroll said. “And I think that’s what we did.”
The Eagles have an extra week to reflect on their success before entering a tough stretch. After a bye, they’re on the road four of the next five games.