Looking Back at the Opener

Posted: September 8th, 2018 | Author: | Filed under: Philadelphia Eagles | 2 Comments »

The Eagles offense struggled mightily on Thursday night. There are a variety of reasons for that. I do think we have to give the Falcons credit for playing good defense. Their LBs were outstanding. Those guys flew around the field and made some key plays.

If you look back to last year, the Eagles starters only scored 18 points or less twice. Once was in Seattle (10 points) and the other time against Atlanta in the playoffs (15 points). Maybe something about the Cover 3 scheme that Dan Quinn and Seattle use gives the Eagles problems. Something to keep an eye on in the future.

A lot of mistakes were self-inflicted. I don’t know if that was rust from the weird preseason or playing on a Thursday night or what. I do expect the Eagles to get better. Any rust is gone. There are still timing and chemistry issues to work on and that will take some time.

The biggest thing is for Nick Foles to get into a groove. He played better as the game went along. Hopefully he’ll continue to improve.

Foles does need help from his skill guys. You remember the NFC title game and Super Bowl. Receivers made crazy catches. Runners made big plays. Last night you had Dallas Goedert failing to score a TD because he couldn’t get the second foot in. Later on, Goedert had a chance to haul in a 15-yard pass, but he got hit, the ball popped up and went right to a Falcon. Instead of kickstarting a promising drive, Atlanta had the ball in scoring position.

I need to study the tape to see what was going on with the WRs. I don’t know if they were open and Foles was missing them or the Falcons were just that good in coverage. There is no doubt that the team needs Alshon Jeffery in a big way.

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One thing that did impress me was the Eagles conditioning. All night long Falcons seemed to be cramping up or needing some kind of help. The Eagles didn’t have the same issues. Jason Peters did get winded at the end of the game, but that’s understandable with his age and the fact he hadn’t played in a game all summer.

We don’t know exactly what goes on with the Sports Science staff, but those folks seem to do a great job.

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Mychal who?

The Eagles now seem to have a deep, talented group of LBs. The team didn’t have Nigel Bradham last night, but still played pretty well.

Jordan Hicks was terrific. He led the team with 7 tackles. He also had 1.5 sacks, a TFL and deflected a pass. If he can play at that level all year, he and Bradham will give the Eagles an outstanding 1-2 punch at LB.

Bradham is the better overall player because of his consistency. He is a force in the run game and in coverage. Hicks is up and down against the run. There are times when he is really good, but there are other times when he guesses too much and gets in the wrong gaps. He also will get stuck on blocks more than you’d like. There is no question that Hicks is a force when it comes to being part of turnover plays (INTs, FFs, FRs). He’s got a nose for the ball.

Kamu Grugier-Hill and Nate Gerry played plenty of snaps. Both guys had good moments. KGH made a sensational play near the goal line to prevent a TD. He fought through two blockers to get the RB for a TFL. Gerry knocked down a quick pass. Heck, he almost picked that off. That would have been off the charts, and a spectacular pick-six.

Without investing a ton of resources, the Eagles have built a good LB corps.

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What a debut by Cameron Johnston. He averaged 52.2 yards per punt. His long kick went 65 yards. Dude has a monster leg on him.

He had one punt inside the 20 and one touchback. As Pederson pointed out, the kicking game helped the Eagles defense.

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Dan Quinn is a good coach.

Doug Pederson is a great coach.

When you are a head coach who runs part of the team, you must hire someone who can run the other side of the ball and do a great job. Pederson is a brilliant offensive mind. He hired Jim Schwartz to run his defense. Schwartz can run the defense and get them to play at a high level. Beyond that, they can come up big in key situations. Just think about the Red Zone stop against Atlanta last night and last year. Think about the strip-sack of Tom Brady in the Super Bowl. Think about multiple 4th quarter stops of the Rams in that game. This is not a fluke.

Pederson got his offense to execute in the Red Zone and that proved to be the difference in the game. Beyond that, when his team was struggling, Pederson made the great call for Philly Philly and that brought some juice to the action. It got the team going and sent the stadium over the edge.

Pederson also has this ability to keep his team calm when things aren’t going their way.

Quinn made a bad hire when he chose Steve Sarkisian to replace Kyle Shanahan. Sarkisian has had some success, but the Falcons are a far cry from the 2016 offense which did some amazing things. I don’t think many people realize just how dynamic that group was.

Quinn has built a good defense. But they haven’t been able to come up with the key stops in key games. Think about the Super Bowl loss and the two losses to the Eagles. Just one key stop in those games and history would be very different.

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