- Alex Hand
Philadelphia Eagles Fall to the Atlanta Falcons in Season Opener
It was not the ending that Philadelphia Eagles’ fans were hoping for and it certainly does not portray the image of a team that is ready to go out and win Super Bowl 50. Thankfully, it is just week 1 and there is still plenty of time to get this team turned over. Let’s take a look at what did and did not work for Philly during the season opener.
Obviously, the offense is not firing on all eight cylinders, but in the same vein, there is a new quarterback, a new pair of running backs, a new pair of guards, and a change up in the wide receiver core; six new starters in total on the offensive side of the ball. The change of the guards and tailbacks definitely proved worrisome after all three Pro Bowl running backs combined for a measly 63 rushing yards.
As quoted by coach Kelly in the post-game press conference, “Sam [Bradford] played decent.” Translated: Yes, there was rust and yes, the man has also not started a regular season game since 2013. As a whole, Bradford played the position well and the main area of focus has become his ability to accurately hit his receivers under duress. There were multiple occasions where he was close to being hit and still had complete freedom of his arm but could not hit his wide-open target.
Byron Maxwell said earlier in the week that this game would be a testament to see where this defense stands. Obviously, there is still some work to do. The X-play was greatly reduced but it was nowhere near enough to compete with top ranking NFC teams. Both Maxwell and Nolan Carroll were burned by Julio Jones for 9 receptions and 141 yards, and the shuffleboard of Malcolm Jenkins to nickel with Chris Maragos playing third safety shows that this team does not have a starting-caliber nickel cornerback, which will present massive problems down the road if they cannot get this issue solved immediately.
DeMeco Ryans started the game but is clearly not 100% yet which became hugely apparent in the run game – an area of which that is his bread and butter. Kiko Alonso made a great one-handed interception to help turn the tides of the game and became very useful at taking down loose ball carriers. This now forces coaches to make a decision for next week as to which interior linebacker will start and see a majority of the snaps.
The pass rush was near nonexistent in the first half and was still remote in the second. Fletcher Cox led the defense with two sacks and that is where the highlight reel ends. The personnel is there and although some good plays were made, this is not the type of defense that will win a championship, especially considering that Alonso is the only new face in that front seven.
Finally, Cody Parkey could have and should have made that 44-yard field goal inside of a dome, but he didn’t and for that he will likely be running laps upon landing back in Philly. The rest of the special teams unit looked decent instead of its usual dominating self. The injury to wide receiver / gunner Seyi Ajirotutu may have been a contributing factor.
The Eagles return home to face a 1-0 Dallas Cowboy team that will not feature Dez Bryant, as he is out 4-6 weeks with a broken foot. This should give the Birds ample opportunity to figure out their conundrum at ni