PHILADELPHIA -- There are plenty of ways to sell 29-10, the score here on Sunday at Lincoln Financial Field where the Philadelphia Eagles won and the Cleveland Browns tumbled.
It is an easy sell for the Eagles ...
Rookie quarterback starts, throws for 278 yards, two touchdowns and looks chill, poised. Rookie head coach rises, keeping his quarterback and team on schedule, building momentum throughout the game with each team component contributing.
It is a grueling sell for the Browns ...
Passed in the last NFL draft on the quarterback who beat them, basically saying he didn't fit. Started a veteran reclamation project at quarterback who threw for 190 yards, no touchdowns and finished by injuring his left shoulder. New head coach presented a team that battled itself as much as the opponent. The center snapped a ball out of the end zone for a safety. The receivers dropped too many passes. The defense was overworked.
So, Eagles quarterback Carson Wentz and coach Doug Pederson say hello Philadelphia, we just might be better than most think. We're selling big hope here. Maybe we can be darn good. We're 1-0. We've got something going. Stick around. And the nearly 70,000 in the place did, bopping in the aisles for most of the afternoon.
But Browns quarterback Robert Griffin III and coach Hue Jackson left with a mess, unable to explain how this new bunch of Browns in this opener played so much like the old Browns, the ones that had lost 11 consecutive season openers. The new Browns just made it 12 straight opening flops for the franchise. The Browns are selling that they will improve, that this first test was only a disappointing setback.
Yet, it was alarming how good Wentz was and how bad the Browns looked. Ridiculous, actually, that the Browns chirped so much last week about how Wentz was not their type of quarterback, not the guy for their system.
He made them look foolish.
* * *
It is one game.
But it was the first head-to-head matchup after the Browns traded the No. 2 draft slot to Philadelphia earlier this year, passing on selecting Wentz. The Eagles eagerly nabbed him.
Today, the Browns chimed a different tune, adjusting their lyrics.
"I thought he did a good job," Jackson said. "I thought they did a good job for the most part protecting him and he made some plays. And again, he won. So, I thought he did some good things and it looked like he had some poise and was able to lead them to victory."
Browns receiver Terrelle Pryor Sr. predicted: "That kid's going to be a baller."
Joe Haden said of Wentz: "He was more advanced than I expected him to be."
And Browns veteran offensive linemen Joe Thomas explained: "It didn't seem like he played like a rookie. He was standing back there even when he had pressure in his face getting hit and throwing the ball on target and moving the ball all over the field. I can tell you he was pretty impressive."
Wentz moved methodically, strategically. He was calling audibles. He was sure-handed. He led the Eagles on a nine-play, 75-yard touchdown drive to start the game and capped it with a 19-yard score to receiver Jordan Matthews. Among his most impressive plays was a third-quarter, 35-yard, rainbow-like touchdown pass to receiver Nelson Agholor that pushed the Eagles ahead 22-10.
The arc and timing and touch on the pass were mesmerizing.
"Stance and start," Agholor said about how he was able to gain a step on elite Browns cornerback Joe Haden. "It was an amazing ball by Carson. He had two receivers he could throw that to and he gave me the opportunity. He tells us to stay active, because he is going to give us a shot. There are no plays off when you are one of his receivers."
Griffin kept trying to match him, but the Browns were too sloppy. They were also doomed by a Jackson call for a fake punt on a fourth-down play early in the second quarter that turned into a negative-6-yard run at the Cleveland 35-yard line.
"That's on me," Jackson said.
Jackson also said "this can't happen" and "that can't happen" when talking about other Browns foibles. He said the way his offense played overall is all on him. He promised the offense will be fixed.
It is a tough sell to Browns fans. They could close their eyes and hear that message again and again, a similar promise from Mike Pettine and Rob Chudzinski and Pat Shurmur and Eric Mangini and the slew of other head coaches who failed in Cleveland before Jackson arrived this year.
It is only one game.
But for Jackson, it is a huge, ornery sell that, after this opening dud, just got instantly tougher.
* * *
Browns fans get a chance to see up close if the Browns can quickly fix their issues. The Baltimore Ravens play at Cleveland next Sunday.
Wentz just became the first rookie quarterback to start a season opener for the Eagles since 1939. Now he hits the road, at the Chicago Bears next.
He energized his team in this opener.
"He is a big, strong guy, 6'5, 240 pounds or whatever," Eagles offensive tackle Lane Johnson said. "He can handle it. He's a big boy. I am proud of the way he handled it. There was a lot on his plate today and it feels good to get the win."
Griffin said that -- Wentz won. Jackson said that -- Wentz won. Pederson said it, adding, "This is who he is. This is his DNA."
Wentz rolled with it. He just became an easy sell in Philadelphia, at least until the next game. Everyone around him, for now, is buying in.
"We'll see what happens," Wentz said. "I try to block out the noise good and bad and get ready for tomorrow, for the next game."
Later, he told me, speaking softly: "There is so much that happens to a quarterback. So much depends on how he handles it. I'm finding my place."