After 1 Quarter and 2 TD Drives, Eagles' Offense Looked Ready to Pederson

Just like that, it was over. After just one quarter, after just 19 snaps, after just 49 plays all preseason, Carson Wentz and the first-team offense were done.

Eagles head coach Doug Pederson went against convention Thursday night and yanked his starters after just four drives and one quarter in the Eagles' preseason game at the Linc against the Dolphins.

NFL custom says the starters play well into the third quarter of the third preseason game, but after Wentz engineered a nine-play, 93-yard touchdown drive, Pederson had seen enough.

It was time to get Wentz and Co. safely to the sideline and start getting ready for the real stuff and the Redskins two weeks from Sunday in Landover.

"I feel real comfortable with where they're at," Pederson said after the Eagles' 38-31 preseason win. "Their focus now is in a couple of weeks, and they can get some really good work, 1-on-1 work, in these next few practices, and kind of get ready for the regular season."

There was a sense among the players that the two 2½-hour practices with the Dolphins on Monday and Tuesday were more valuable than the game itself.

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Certainly, nobody was complaining about the quick hook.

"They got a lot of great work for two days," Pederson said. "You think about it, we really don't play full football games on 48 hours rest, and Monday and Tuesday (were) pretty intense for both teams.

"I felt like we got some good work, so that was part of the reason why I was able to pull them out sooner."

It does all make sense.

The starters played one series in the preseason opener and scored a touchdown; they played four series - two more than anticipated - in the second game against the Bills; then scored two TDs in four drives Thursday night.

A year ago, Sam Bradford and the first-team offense played 67 snaps in the preseason, including 35 in the third game against the Colts. This year, the 1's played 48 snaps.

"I don't want the fact to get lost that we practiced against the Miami Dolphins for two days before this game and got plenty of reps against them," center Jason Kelce said.
"That kind of gets lost in the translation a little bit. Would I have liked our offense to be more consistent in the preseason? I think we had a great week of practice against these guys and I think that probably factored into it, and the success we had early on.

"I would have liked to have more success against the Bills, but I feel like we got enough reps against Miami. We got so many reps. There were a lot of team reps, a lot of reps with their 1's against our 1's, so I think we got what we needed against this opponent."

There was plenty of offensive inconsistency from the Eagles' first offense in the three preseason games, but they did score three touchdowns on nine drives without the benefit of game planning and with the first O-line together for only the Miami game.

The starters won't play against the Jets in the final preseason game Thursday night at the Meadowlands.

"That is preseason football," Wentz said. "I got a lot of work in over camp, honestly. With 16 games last year, I was healthy. I got good work in in the preseason. I don't think it was overkill. But it was a good number, and I feel confident going forward.

"We got a lot of good situational work during the week where we didn't have to go fully live, but we got to see some different looks. I think that was part of it. And then coming out and putting together a couple of drives, I think it was a 93-yard drive we ended with, I think we all kind of said, 'We have seen enough.'"

The offensive line was still shaky at times Thursday night, but there were plenty of positives.

Like Wentz's 50-yard TD bomb to Torrey Smith - longer than any TD pass an Eagles wide receiver caught last year.

Like the running game finally showing signs of life, and LeGarrette Blount and Wendell Smallwood combining for 47 rushing yards on just eight carries.

Like Wentz smoothly finding Alshon Jeffery for completions of  20 and 15 yards on the 93-yard drive, the second one for a touchdown.

Like Zach Ertz looking explosive with three catches for 44 yards.

"I feel good," said Wentz, who threw only 23 passes in the three preseason games.

"I feel confident. I am thankful, for the most part, that everyone is healthy too. So I think, tonight, this offense was a good showing for us. The interception (on a tipped ball) was unfortunate, but we moved the ball well. And for the starters, it's exciting to start getting ready for Washington."

Jeffery was asked if had ever come out of a third preseason game this early.

"I don't remember," he said. "Honestly, I don't even think about preseason games."

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