Good Signs

Posted: September 15th, 2021 | Author: | Filed under: Philadelphia Eagles | 3 Comments »

The more I reflect on the Eagles win in Sunday’s opener, the more impressed I get. This wasn’t a win for the ages or a perfect game, but that’s part of what impresses me so much. They beat the Falcons in a sound, methodical way. The Eagles were the better team in every way and it showed. They out-coached the Falcons. This was a total team win.

It should be a sign of good things to come.

I say “should” because openers can be tricky. Go back to 2000 and the legendary Pickle Juice Game. The Eagles destroyed the Cowboys, winning 41-14. The Eagles ran for 306 yards and physically dominated the game. They also recovered an onside kick. They piled up five sacks, had a pick-six and knocked Troy Aikman out of the game. That was a glorious day.

It also was an anomaly.

The Eagles lost the next week, 33-18. The following week they went down 6-3. The team didn’t run for even 90 yards in either game. That season opening performance was fun, but just the kind of game you can replicate. Running for 306 yards out of the I-formation just didn’t happen too often.

What we saw on Sunday wasn’t anything flukey. The Eagles didn’t force a turnover. They didn’t hit big on trick plays. The Eagles only had one play go for more than 25 yards.

We saw an offense that was efficient in both the run game and the pass game. We saw a D-line that dominated and a back seven that kept things in front of them and flew to the ball. The Eagles were sound on STs.

That was just good, smart, solid football. That can be replicated.

I can’t tell you they’ll beat the Niners this week, but what we saw in the opener is very encouraging for the upcoming season.

One of the real keys for me is how well-coached the Eagles were. They had an excellent offensive plan. Last year Nick Sirianni was coaching Philip Rivers. Jalen Hurts is pretty much the exact opposite of Rivers. Sirianni and his staff had a plan that took advantage of what Hurts did well and they put him in a position to succeed. That’s good coaching.

Compare that to Arthur Smith. Last year he coached the Titans and had Derrick Henry and A.J. Brown. It felt like Sunday’s gameplan was more for them and not Matt Ryan, Calvin Ridley and Kyle Pitts. Ryan had his fewest passing yards since October of 2019. And it wasn’t like he was going against some elite secondary.

I thought Jonathan Gannon had a good plan for the Eagles defense. I liked the way he used a lot of players and kept everyone fresh. They really were rotating as much as possible. Fletcher Cox played 41 snaps. Hassan Ridgeway played 26. That’s not 50-50, but it is a legit rotation. Rookie Milton Williams was in for 31 snaps!

Gannon wasn’t sure about the offense he would be facing so he didn’t build a lot of complex packages for the game. He kept things fairly simple and let his players play. Gannon didn’t panic when the Falcons got off to a hot start. He mixed in some different players, but also preached for his guys to use better technique and just clean up some mistakes. It wasn’t some genius adjustment that shut down the Falcons. Gannon got his guys to settle down and play better.

Michael Clay did a good job with his STs. The FOX crew pointed out how smart  Andre Chachere was when he didn’t touch a punt after being out of bounds. That would have been an illegal touching. Instead he pointed to the ball and directed a teammate to come down it. That’s good coaching.

In terms of game management, Sirianni was fantastic. He went for it on a pair of fourth downs. He went for 2 when a penalty moved the ball to the 1-yard line. Those are smart decisions. He had all his timeouts left for the final drive of the first half. The Eagles were organized and didn’t have to burn timeouts due to confusion. This team was prepared. Sirianni and his staff had a great day on Sunday.

I would love to tell you that Sunday’s performance drastically changes my outlook on the season, but we need to see more before I can go there. I do think we can see the Eagles have the potential to be a good team. If Hurts plays well and they win the LOS, the Eagles will win more than expected this year. The Niners have more talent than the Falcons and now they have tape to study. Sunday will give us a better feel for just how good this Eagles team can be.

The arrow is certainly pointing in the  right direction.