INDIANAPOLIS — After notching their first victory of the season last week against the Washington Redskins, the Indianapolis Colts now shift their focus to another NFC East opponent in the reigning Super Bowl champion Philadelphia Eagles.
Let's take a quick look at this week's foe.
It was unfortunate timing for the Eagles as they traveled down to Florida and ran into the buzzsaw that is the Tampa Bay Buccaneers passing game, led by Ryan Fitzpatrick.
The Eagles failed to come out on top in their 27-21 loss, but the matchup had plenty of fireworks as the two teams combined for 848 yards of offense and 48 points.
In his second consecutive start to begin the regular season, Eagles quarterback Nick Foles threw for 334 yards and a touchdown, but was outpaced by Fitzpatrick's 402 yards and four touchdowns.
The Eagles spread the wealth on the ground, with Jay Ajayi and Corey Clement carrying the ball seven times while Wendell Smallwood got six. But it was through the air where the game really opened up for Philadelphia.
Primary targets tight end Zach Ertz and wide receiver Nelson Agholor combined for 19 receptions for 182 yards and one touchdown while Clement, tight end Josh Perkins and former Colts receiver Kamar Aiken combined for 14 receptions for 151 yards.
The strength of the Eagles — their pass rush — was able to get to Fitzpatrick twice for sacks and hit him eight total times, but two lost fumbles by the offense hurt the Eagles too much in this one-score affair.
Foles did a sometimes-masterful job quarterbacking the Eagles since last December, even helping lead the team to its first Super Bowl victory back in February. However, the team's leader is back.
This week, Eagles head coach Doug Pederson announced that quarterback Carson Wentz — the No. 2 overall selection in the 2016 NFL Draft — has been cleared to return to the field and will start this Sunday against the Colts.
Wentz was arguably the front runner for the MVP award last season before suffering a season-ending injury in Week 14 when he tore the ACL and LCL in his left knee.
He was able to participate in training camp this summer but was just recently cleared for contact. Seeing as he did not play in any preseason games and teams don't allow their quarterbacks to get hit in practice, this game will be the first time Wentz has taken contact since the injury.
How rusty will he be, and will he appear to be gun-shy at all before his first hit?
OLD FACES IN NEW PLACES
For Colts head coach Frank Reich and linebacker Najee Goode, this is their first matchup against the Eagles since winning the championship with the team in February.
Reich was asked by the media on Monday what it will be like to face his old team:
"Yeah, it's special. A lot of times in this business, usually when you are going back some place, you are usually going back to some place you got fired from and so this isn't like that. I have nothing but great memories and tremendous experience in the two years there. I couldn't have a higher opinion of the organization and the people there. But at the end of the day, we are all after the same thing. I owe a lot to that organization because they helped give me the opportunity that I have right now to be the head coach here. But it's exciting to go back and to be able to compete against the defending Super Bowl champions and that's what we plan on doing."
Goode spoke more strategically on this game, commenting on how he can help his teammates in regard to the Eagles' tendencies and schemes. He joked that he's already talked to a few of his old teammates and that he has a target on their backs just as well as they do with him. He also mentioned talking with some of their offensive linemen but that they aren't offering many tidbits of information.
2018 KEY STATS
- Tied for most rushing touchdowns (4)
- Ninth in third down percentage (42%)
- Most fourth-down makes (3) and attempts (5)
- Second in average time of possession (33:54)
- Tied for third-most fumbles (4) and second-most fumbles lost (three)
- Eighth in defensive points per game (19.5)
- Seventh in defensive third down percentage (32%)
- Third most defensive penalties (19)