Eagles football is officially back.
In Philadelphia’s first preseason game of 2017, the Birds fell to the Green Bay Packers, 24-9, at Lambeau Field. Although it wasn’t the result the team wanted, there were bright spots throughout the evening, including the play of quarterback Carson Wentz and rookie wide receiver Mack Hollins.
Wentz and the majority of the offensive starters played just one series, but they made it count. The 60-yard drive culminated in a 38-yard touchdown to Hollins, marking his first NFL touchdown in his first NFL game, and put the opening points of the game on the board. Unfortunately, the drive would end with an unsuccessful two-point conversion attempt. But, it would give the Birds a 6-0 lead early in the first quarter. The starters on defense also stood tall in the opening 15 minutes, holding Green Bay scoreless.
That first drive would mark the end of the night for Wentz though, who finish the evening a perfect 4-of-4 for 56 yards and a touchdown.
“I thought (Wentz) did a nice job,” head coach Doug Pederson said. “He kept his eyes, his vision downfield. He was able to avoid the rush and step up and deliver some nice throws on the run. That just shows his athleticism and his strength in the pocket. It’s exciting to see.”
Following Wentz’s exit, quarterback Matt McGloin took over for Philadelphia’s offense. He left the game in the fourth, finishing 28-of-42 for 205 yards and an interception. Rookie Dane Evans then came in to finish and went 3-of-7 for 22 yards and an interception.
To continue the night of firsts for the Eagles’ rookies, 2017 first-round pick Derek Barnett notched two sacks, both in the second quarter, and two quarterback hurries in his NFL debut. His opening sack came at the 6:53 mark of the second quarter for a loss of 8 yards, while the second was for a loss of 12 with 3:14 left on the clock before halftime.
“I thought he really stepped up and once he got his legs under him you know he played well,” Pederson said of Barnett. “He played hard and it was exciting to see him around the quarterback too.”
While there were a number of positives early in the game, the Eagles certainly struggled as time went on. Philadelphia only added three more points in the game off a Caleb Sturgis 25-yard field goal with 1:17 left in the third. Sturgis’ only other attempt was a 46-yard attempt that hit off the upright and was no good. Green Bay on the other hand was able to add 17 points in the second quarter and tacked on another touchdown in the fourth.
One of the biggest issues for Philadelphia throughout the game was turnovers. The team finished with five in total, two interceptions and three fumbles. The game was a bit sloppy on both sides though, as the Eagles were able to come up with three takeaways of their own. Cornerback Patrick Robinson and linebacker Kamu Grugier-Hill both recovered fumbles while linebacker Mychal Kendricks nabbed an interception.
It may not have been the start to the preseason the Birds had hoped for, but the team will get back to the field this week and prepare for next Thursday’s preseason home opener against the Buffalo Bills at Lincoln Financial Field.