The NFL season opener has come and gone, and the Philadelphia Eagles have jumped out to a 1-0 record after their 18-12 victory over the Falcons. It was a low scoring affair that led to a lot of groans from the Eagles fans in attendance. As a fan base, Philadelphia must be pleased with a 1-0 start to their run back to the Super Bowl. Let’s break down each side of the ball and explain how the Eagles ran their way into a victory.
Let’s start with the Super Bowl MVP, Nick Foles. He was a shell of who we saw in February against the Patriots. His stat line was: 19/34, 117 yards and 1 INT. This was a far cry from the man slicing and dicing the defense from New England in the biggest game of the year. Foles never looked comfortable in the pocket and in fact focused in on two receivers most of the game, Agholor, and Ertz. Nick will need to learn to read through his progressions and allow this offense to open up a bit more without Carson Wentz under center.
Now we can move on to the wide receiver core, which for the most part was the Nelson Agholor show last night. Agholor led the team with 8 catches but only tallied up 33 yards. Nick Foles seemed to have his eyes locked on him all night whenever he was in distress from the Falcons pass rush. A big factor that could be seen from the game is the lack of weapons now. With Alshon Jeffrey on the mend, the Eagles were forced to use players like Shelton Gibson and Deandre Carter. A bright spot was seeing the mini workhorse, Darren Sproles returning to his pass catching ways. He totaled 4 catches for 22 yards in his return to action. This was much needed as without Jeffrey the Eagles looked to be lacking any outside the number threat. Hopefully, Jeffrey can return sooner rather than later to allow the Eagles to return to form on the offensive side of the ball.
The best moment on offense was the running game against the Falcons. The first half was rough to watch. There was no real movement of the ball and the Eagles offense sputtered. The second half was a tale of a whole different story however, when Jay Ajayi decided to take over the game. If you remember my week one preview, I stated how the Falcons had a small yet fast defense. This made them weak against power backs who can hit the hole and drive the offense forward. Jay Ajayi and Doug Pederson must have read my column because in the second half they did just as I wrote. Jay ended the game with two touchdowns and 62 yards leading the Eagles backfield in carries. The Eagles offense has a ton of talent in the backfield which allows the team to choose each game which back gets the bulk of the carries. Look for the future to involve different “heads” of this running back committee every single game depending on the opponent.
The Player of the Game Award goes to the entire defensive squad. The defense racked up four sacks, one interception (should have been a few more if McLeod could catch) and held Matt Ryan to only 251 yards. The defense played a great game when it came to the run game as well. Devonta Freeman and Tevin Coleman combined for only 55 yards and one touchdown. This forced the Falcons to become one dimensional and allowing their only weapon to be Julio Jones. The Eagles approached this monster talent with a bend don’t break strategy. He did make an amazing fantasy football stat line of 10 catches and 169 yards. However, the big number was zero touchdowns. The Falcons continue to struggle with Julio in the redzone and couldn’t feed him the ball when it counted at the end of the game which ultimately lead to the victory.
The best play of the game was simple- Philly Special 2.0
At this point in the game, they were amid a very boring defensive battle. This play not only lit a fire under the Eagles, but it also lit a fire under the fan base and changed the course of the game. The real question is, does the club run the Philly Special 3.0 next week in Tampa Bay? You will have to tune in to my Week 2 Preview before next weeks games to find out!
From deep in the HEART of Philadelphia. We are swooping down on every bit of Eagles news. Stay tuned and #FlyEaglesFly