PHILADELPHIA -- The chant started early in the second quarter, after a particularly ugly series by the Philadelphia Eagles' offense.
“We want Wentz! We want Wentz!”
The fans got their wish with 1 minute, 19 seconds left in the first half. Coach Doug Pederson said Wentz would start the second half, but gave the No. 2 pick in the draft an early shot at a two-minute drill. The Eagles had to punt after Wentz completed 2 of 5 passes for 22 yards. But Wentz was clearly the main attraction for fans attending the Eagles’ preseason opener Thursday night at home against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
The Eagles scored twice early off turnovers and then held on for a 17-9 victory.
QB depth chart: It won’t change officially, but it might become harder for Pederson to justify his plan to dress No. 2 signal-caller Chase Daniel ahead of Wentz on game days. Starter Sam Bradford barely played, completing one pass for 3 yards. Daniel was on the field for seven drives that produced three first downs. His line: 4-of-10 passing for 15 yards, with four sacks.
Wentz brought a jolt of energy to an offense in desperate need of one. Twice he ran away from pressure and got positive yardage. On his third series, Wentz moved the Eagles from their own 17 to the Tampa 11. The Eagles’ most impressive drive of the night ended when Wentz hurried a pass, overthrew Paul Turner and was intercepted by safety Isaiah Johnson.
Fans held their breath in the fourth quarter when Wentz took off on a designed run. He was upended by Bucs safety Kimario McFadden. Wentz jumped up and ran off the field with no apparent problems. Later in the quarter, he was slow to get up after a hit by DE Channing Ward but remained in the game until the waning minutes. Wentz finished 12-of-24 for 89 yards, no touchdowns and the interception.
Maybe that dude could start: With Ryan Mathews out of the game early and Darren Sproles in bubble wrap for the preseason, Kenjon Barner got a lot of work at running back. He carried the ball seven times for 35 yards, a 5-yards-per-carry average. He also returned punts and kickoffs. Barner might not beat out Mathews, but with Mathews’ history of injuries, Barner could become important to the Eagles this season.
Who got hurt? Right guard Brandon Brooks left in the fourth quarter with a biceps injury; backup center Josh Andrews left in the third after injuring his right ankle. The Eagles went into the game with 10 players sidelined by injuries.
A surprise player who impressed: Jaylen Watkins broke up two passes and drew an offensive-pass-interference call with his coverage. Watkins was playing safety since starter Malcolm Jenkins was unavailable, but Watkins also plays cornerback. He didn’t seem likely to make the 53-man roster, but more performances like this could change that.
When it was starters vs. starters, the Eagles looked ...: Efficient. The starters, particularly on offense, didn’t play for very long. Bradford and the offense played exactly three plays, gaining 18 yards for a touchdown before conceding the field to the second team. The Eagles’ starting defense showed glimpses of Jim Schwartz’s aggressive scheme. Defensive tackle Fletcher Cox bull-rushed guard Ali Marpet, knocked the ball out of quarterback Jameis Winston's hand and recovered the fumble.
One reason to be concerned: The offense wasn’t able to get much going in the first half. The Eagles scored twice early after turnovers gave them the ball inside the Tampa Bay 20-yard line. Mathews ran for one touchdown and Daniel scrambled for the second. But the first- and second-team offenses weren’t able to sustain any drives under normal circumstances.
Tackle watch: Right tackle Lane Johnson did start the game. There was speculation he might be held out after a story broke Tuesday that Johnson is facing a possible 10-game suspension for a positive PED test. The first-team line didn’t play long. The second group took the field with backup quarterback Daniel with 12:22 left in the first quarter. Matt Tobin started at left tackle in place of Jason Peters (quadriceps). Dennis Kelly (right) and Andrew Gardner (left) were the second-team tackles.
The other rookies: Most of the Eagles’ other draft picks had a rough night. Cornerback Jalen Mills got turned around, allowing a completion to wide receiver Russell Shepard and then missing a tackle to give Shepard a 30-yard gain. Guard Isaac Seumalo got called for a false-start penalty, while safety Blake Countess was penalized for going out of bounds while covering a punt. Linebacker Joe Walker made tackles on defense and on special teams. Fifth-round pick Halapoulivaati Vaitai played right tackle in front of Wentz.