Eagles Win Over Falcons a Sign of Things to Come
The Philadelphia Eagles (5-4) have remained undefeated playing at home (4-0) following their 24-15 victory over the Atlanta Falcons (6-4). While the festering wounds of a troubled receiver core continued to be the teams’ weakest link, the Eagles offense benefited greatly from a rushing attack that compiled 208 yards and a defense that marred the league’s top ranked offense into a one-dimensional front.
With the addition of a healthy Bennie Logan, the Eagles defensive line stiffened and kept Atlanta to a season-low 48 yards. The secondary played their part by preventing Julio Jones from scoring a touchdown as well as securing the game-winning interception that was picked off by Leodis McKelvin (seen above).
“They had the top offense and we were able to eliminate the run game except for around like two plays, I think they got out on us, but other than that we shut down the run and disrupted them in the pass game”, said Connor Barwin after the game. “I think, obviously, we want to be better every week but we were disruptive and kind of got [Matt Ryan] to move around out of the pocket,” he said.
Offensively, Nelson Agholor dropped another textbook pass and neither Dorial Green-Beckham or Bryce Treggs showed up statistically. Jordan Matthews dropped an easy pass as well, but he also led the team in receiving yards (73), dealt with blatant pass interference calls, and was ignored when bashed in the head via Falcon safety, Keanu Neal.
Zach Ertz and Ryan Mathews helped in the passing game by racking up 55 yards and 30 yards, respectively. It was also Mathews that had scored both of Philly’s touchdowns.
“I always had confidence in Ryan Mathews”, said head coach Doug Pederson when asked about Mathews increased play against Atlanta. “I think what you saw today is the guy [that] I kept seeing, the guy we all wanted to see; and I fully have confidence in him as I do Darren [Sproles] and Wendell [Smallwood] and Kenjon [Barner].”
The Eagles posted a tremendous victory on Sunday afternoon that was not just for the fans, but also as a potential foreshadowing for the rest of the NFL in seasons to come.
It is quite easy to be distracted by the lack of playmaking ability in 75 percent of the Eagles’ wide receiver core and by the euphoria of the “rebuilding” process under a rookie quarterback and rookie head coach; but if the Birds, in their current state, are capable of competing against teams with good records and are simply falling victim to shooting themselves in the foot in the fourth quarter, then the road to victory may be short in distance.
“If you look at the whole season, we’re in all these games. We played some good teams with great records in the NFL, and every single game we’ve been right there”, said Jason Kelce after the game. “We know that we’re a good football team. We know that we can win football games against anybody, but it comes down to not making mistakes and coming through in clutch situations and key situations at the end of the game like we did today.”
Just remember, a rookie quarterback, rookie head coach, and a newer defensive scheme has resulted in a 5-4 record. Andy Reid inherited a horrible Eagles team in 1999, and in two seasons he flipped that rookie 5-11 record to an 11-5 playoff berth the following year. By the way, during that 2000 (11-5) season, the Birds had a 6-4 record at week 10 in the season.
The reasons for optimism are as follows: the front office has been sharp in retaining home grown players, making positive moves in free agency, and only possess four positional needs (WR, CB, OT & OLB) looking ahead into the pending offseason; the defense is stellar and will only grow more powerful over time and with minor tweaks in personnel; and all four of the Eagles’ losses have averaged a point differential of less than five.
The could have, would have, and should haves will always clot the brain with the misconception of potential, but in this instance, the Eagles will simply be forced to play to their strengths at full speed until the magic runs out. A first-round receiver, free agent cornerback, late-round tackle, or any combination of the three is what this team is missing, and could very well be that extra score to turn those four losses into wins moving forward.