There was good and there was bad. There was optimism and there was anguish. That’s how we can sum up the Eagles week 1 game of the 2015-2016 season and inevitable loss to the Atlanta Falcons. Like many games last season, this was certainly a tale of two halves. The offense and defense didn’t seem prepared out of the gate and may have been, perhaps, a bit too overconfident. Adjustments were made at halftime and the Birds offense seemed unstoppable in the 3rd quarter. Then a more conservative team played on the field for much of the 4th quarter.
After week 1 – and let’s not panic here – the Eagles are ranked 7th in total yards (399), 4th in passing yards (336), 31st in rushing yards (63), and 16th in total points scored (24). The defensive numbers look all too familiar. They’re ranked 25th in passing defense (290), 20th in rushing defense (105), 23rd in total yards (395), and 18th in points allowed (26).
Here are a few takeaways from the game that need to be highlighted heading into week 2.
Overconfidence. After listening to Jason Peters this past week on the Official Philadelphia Eagles Podcasts, I became slightly nervous. When asked about Vic Beasley Jr. and how the veteran left tackle would play against his speed, Peters was dismissive and said he’d have to show Beasley how it’s done in the NLF. We have to wonder if Peters’ overconfidence was a reflection of the team. It certainly seemed like it for the first 30 minutes of the game.
The preseason only means so much. It’s obvious that the team needed more preseason work together. As we know, QB Sam Bradford and RB DeMarco Murray rarely saw the field together and it was evident from the start in Atlanta that they – and much of the offense, in general – were out of sync. What’s done is done and we can cry over spilt milk, but the wide receivers and quarterback need to work thoroughly this week on their timing. On the opposite side of the ball, the secondary still continues to go through growing pains. Missed tackles and being out of position led to many of the Falcons’ 21 first downs.
Accumulating 14 penalties was inexcusable. The amount of holding calls on the offense was enough to enrage a casual football fan let alone us diehard fans. C Jason Kelce and LG Allen Barbre both had a terrible game in this regard – both were rated poorly for their overall performance by Pro Football Focus. I’m actually amazed this game wasn’t more of a blowout considering the amount of offensive penalties. When NFL teams and players are undisciplined and rack up copious penalties, it’s virtually impossible to win a game. Inevitably, this comes down to coaching.
CB Byron Maxwell is not a premier corner. Yes, WR Julio Jones is a top-5 receiver in the NFL and can burn just about anyone. This was a huge test for Maxwell and whether or not his $10.5 million a year salary would distinguish him as an elite cornerback. Well, it didn’t. He was consistently outmatched throughout the game and didn’t have an answer for Jones. Interestingly enough, Maxwell was targeted repeatedly by his former defensive coordinator, Dan Quinn, indicating what Quinn knew of and thought of No. 31’s man-to-man coverage skills. Byron desperately needs to work on his press coverage in this defense. Can he still be an effective corner? Absolutely. Let’s just hope we’re not seeing Cary Williams Pt. 2 in the making.
The offense and defense can rebound. It was as if we saw the rust peeling away and off of Bradford during the first half. He hadn’t played two full quarters of a game in, what, 8 years? That’s how it looked anyway. But he was able to find his rhythm and be extremely effective during the second half. It was good to see a QB having the ability to effectively rebound. Adjustments were made on defense after the half, which was evident holding the Falcons to zero points in the 3rd quarter and 6 points in the 4th quarter.
Many of us Eagles fans are eating crow this morning, and that’s a good thing. Let’s temper the expectations and let reality set in. On our Eagles post-game show, Len’s biggest takeaway was – hype, hype, hype. Listen, I was a guilty party and just about all of us fell for this Super Bowl talk right out of the gate. It’s plainly obvious that a greater concentration on playing one snap at a time should be the focus heading into week 2 against Dallas.
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