Let’s hope last Sunday ends up being an anomaly for the 2018 Eagles, similar to the Chiefs game in Week 2 of last season. The defense — arguably the strongest unit of the team when Nick Foles is under center — surrendered backbreaking plays left and right. The Birds defense did not look like its normal, dominant self the entire game. The cornerbacks and linebackers were sloppy with technique in both man and zone coverage. Players consistently missed tackles, and the unit wasn’t swarming to the ball in their typical fashion.

It was somewhat refreshing to see leaders like Malcolm Jenkins, Jordan Hicks and Jalen Mills step up, admit to their mistakes, and work on improving for next week. But I will give credit where credit is due. Dirk Koetter coached one hell of a game.

I wrote this last week, but I’ve always thought that Ryan Fitzpatrick has been underrated throughout his career. However, Fitzpatrick’s performances in these first two games have been absurd. He lit up two legitimate Eagles and Saints secondary units in back-to-back weeks.

However, not a full 24 hours after the brutal loss, something amazing happened:

The kid from Fargo has returned

Via @cj_wentz11 Instagram

Carson Wentz is back as QB1 for the Philadelphia Eagles. The young quarterback returns after sitting on the sidelines for the last eight games. Everyone in Philadelphia has heard stories of Wentz’ dedication to the game, so just imagine the itch he has right now to play meaningful football again. You better believe that #11 is ready to prove that his 13 games of MVP-level play was not a fluke.

It has been just over nine months since Wentz tore his ACL in Los Angeles, a longer recovery time than when he missed the majority of his senior season at North Dakota with a broken wrist. Videos and stories about Wentz’ recovery have been passed around and analyzed, but my expectations are tempered, mainly due to the conservative nature of the Eagles coaching staff. It’s without question that they want to gradually ease Wentz back. However, don’t be surpised to see Wentz make one or two of his patented “something out of nothing” plays from the pocket right out of the gate.

When considering the two best quarterbacks in the game right now — Aaron Rodgers and Tom Brady — they shared a common experience in their early careers. Both sat and watched the game from the sidelines. In a strange twist of fate, Carson Wentz now shares that trait as well. Already a cerebral quarterback, Wentz said in his presser that he was “able to see things as a coach” during his eight game absence. I fully expect Wentz to reach new heights in regards to reading defenses and making adjustments at the line of scrimmage.

Frank Reich faces former team as Andrew Luck tries to best Wentz’ return

The 1-1 Indianapolis Colts roll into Philly after defensively dominating Washington on the road last week. Well, that’s what the box score would tell you, anyway. If you look closer, the Skins simply played sloppy and were dominated at the line of scrimmage in a turnover-filled game. A crucial moment came on a Washington missed 49-yard field goal at the end of the half when the game was still 14-3.

Since returning, Andrew Luck has thrown four touchdowns to three interceptions (one deflected at the line of scrimmage and picked). The Colts love to start the game by running the ball and then try to get chunk yardage from play action or counter flowing plays from there. Frank Reich took a page out of the Reid/Pederson playbook and utilizes a committee backfield to the fullest definition.

Their running game starts with Jordan Wilkins a rookie fifth-round pick from Ole Miss. Second-year back Marlon Mack returned from a hamstring injury last week and split carries with Wilkins. Lastly, Nyheim Hines, another rookie back drafted in the fourth-round, plays a dynamic scat back role. Luckily, the Eagles have one of the stoutest run defenses in the league. They will have to prove that on Sunday.

Most Important Player

It would be easy to put the entire defensive line here or Fletcher Cox , but we know he is going to dominate his matchup week in and week out. Instead, second-year edge rusher Derek Barnett will be in the spotlight against a weak Colts offensive line. Despite drafting one of the better offensive line prospects in recent memory in guard Quenton Nelson, the Colts have started 37 different combinations along the offensive front since Luck was drafted.

Via @dbarnett25 Instagram

Starting left tackle Anthony Castonzo has not played this season due to a hamstring injury. Offseason signee J’Marcus Webb started at left tackle in Week 1, but injured his hamstring late in the game. The Week 2 unit featured Le’Raven Clark at left tackle, a 2016 third-round pick who started in eight games at right guard/tackle over his first two seasons. Clark will draw the Derek Barnett matchup in most cases, and Barnett has to finally show up this season. Not only does he need to create constant pressure from the edge, but Barnett must also remain sound in his technique against the run and counter-action plays.

One last thing: there is a reason T.Y. Hilton has four 1,000+ yard receiving seasons. He’s the real deal. Ronald Darby will draw that assignment, and once again, the Eagles will lean on him to win a vital one-on-one battle.

So far the scores have been the exact opposite of what I have predicted the past two weeks. Rather than jinx the score again, I’ll make a bold player prediction. Derek Barnett currently has a goose egg in the sack column this season. He picks up two on Sunday.

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Author Details
NFL Department Head | The Armchair All-Americans, LLC
I grew up like most Philly fans in the 90s; watching my dad scream obscenities at the TV as the Eagles lost a heartbreaker. I idolized Allen Iverson (still do), and cried my eyes out when the Sixers lost four straight to the Lakers in the 2001 NBA Finals. I’ve seen some dark days in Philly, but have always Trusted the Process. Still have not stopped celebrating Super Bowl 52 and don’t plan on it anytime soon. Eagles are Super Bowl CHAMPS! Follow me on twitter @matthewlucci_ for some betting “advice” and @matthewlucci on Instagram for stupid pics of me.
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NFL Department Head | The Armchair All-Americans, LLC
I grew up like most Philly fans in the 90s; watching my dad scream obscenities at the TV as the Eagles lost a heartbreaker. I idolized Allen Iverson (still do), and cried my eyes out when the Sixers lost four straight to the Lakers in the 2001 NBA Finals. I’ve seen some dark days in Philly, but have always Trusted the Process. Still have not stopped celebrating Super Bowl 52 and don’t plan on it anytime soon. Eagles are Super Bowl CHAMPS! Follow me on twitter @matthewlucci_ for some betting “advice” and @matthewlucci on Instagram for stupid pics of me.

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