Eagles hand future to Carson Wentz
Eleventh in a 13-part series on the teams the Green Bay Packers will face in the 2016 regular season.
The Green Bay Packers will have to wait until after Thanksgiving before getting their annual cameo in the Monday night spotlight.
Their lone appearance on Monday Night Football will be Nov. 28 when they travel to the Philadelphia Eagles. The Eagles turned the page on the abbreviated Chip Kelly era and are hoping a man familiar with Packers fans (more on him later) will help them rebound from last season’s disappointing 7-9 record.
It’s an ideal setting for a late-season game that could have significant divisional ramifications for both teams. After Philly, the Packers will end their season with five straight opponents that either share their division or made the playoffs in 2015.
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Here are three things to know about the Eagles.
» Doug from Green Bay: You probably remember Doug Pederson as a veteran quarterback who spent seven seasons behind Brett Favre in the 1990s and then, most prominently, in the early aughts. Though, considering Pederson hardly played behind the Packers’ iron-man QB, you might not. Pederson has blossomed after his playing career. He worked his way from head coach of Calvary Baptist Academy, a private school outside Shreveport, La., with a K-through-12 enrollment of about 200 students, to the NFL. Pederson got his first chance coaching pro football as the Eagles’ offensive quality control coordinator in 2009 and 2010, before graduating to quarterbacks coach in 2011 and 2012. After serving as Andy Reid’s offensive coordinator in Kansas City the past three seasons, he returned to Philly this offseason for his first chance at being an NFL head coach. If he wants any pointers on how to return the Eagles to prominence, all he needs to do is ask his old boss. Reid led the Eagles to nine playoff appearances in his 14 seasons. The Eagles have made one playoff appearance in the three seasons since Reid was fired.
» Where have all the stars gone? You don’t have to go back very far through the pages of history to find the last time the Packers traveled to Philadelphia. They played the Eagles on the road twice during the 2010 season, including an NFC wild-card victory in January 2011. In that game, the Eagles were led by a young core: LeSean McCoy, DeSean Jackson, Jeremy Maclin. That’s a solid foundation of skill players to build upon. Instead, Kelly jettisoned each player to another team. McCoy is in Buffalo, Jackson in Washington, Maclin in Kansas City. Kelly performed a bold overhaul of the Eagles roster, an approach that ultimately was unsuccessful. Philly fans have to wonder how much better the team might be if some, if not all, of the talent remained in their city.
» A QB situation that will make you Wentz: No matter what roster decisions Kelly made, his tenure was never going to work without a solid starting quarterback. That’s the case for any NFL coach. Without a quarterback, teams don’t win. So you can understand why the Eagles were aggressive before the draft this spring. They send five draft picks to the Cleveland Browns, a package that included the No. 8 overall pick, a 2017 first rounder and 2018 second rounder, for the No. 2 overall selection. They then drafted North Dakota State’s Carson Wentz, who they hope will become the rare quarterback to make a successful transition from the FCS to the NFL. The Eagles still have 2010 top overall pick Sam Bradford on their roster, and his presence is a little awkward. Regardless, the Eagles have made it clear Wentz is their future. Now, he has to meet those expectations.
Packers schedule glimpse
Nov. 28:at Eagles, 7:30 p.m., ESPN
Week before: at Washington, Nov. 20
Week after:vs. Texans, Dec. 4
On the horizon: vs. Seattle, Dec. 11
Coach: Doug Pederson (0-0, first season)
2015 record: 7-9, second NFC East
Scoring offense: 23.6 points per game (13th in NFL)
Total offense: 364.4 yards per game (12th)
Scoring defense: 26.9 points allowed per game (28th)
Total defense: 401.6 yards allowed per game (30th)
Series: Packers lead 41-26 (1-2 postseason).
Last meeting: The Packers annihilated the Eagles 53-20 on Nov. 16, 2014 behind what may have been the most impressive half of football they played at Lambeau Field all season. The Packers scored the first 17 points, en route to a 30-3 lead before the Eagles mercifully kicked a second field goal before halftime. The Packers hardly slowed down in the third quarter, taking a 46-13 lead into the fourth. There were many highlights, none more impressive than Julius Peppers’ 52-yard interception returned for a touchdown. Quarterback Aaron Rodgers completed 22-of-36 passes for 341 yards, three touchdowns and no interceptions before being pulled early in the second half.