The defence will get better – The Eagles defence was impressive in stretches during their 18-12 defeat of good Atlanta team. The team made impressive plays, especially in the red zone but also let Atlanta rack up yardage.
As well as having one of the best offensive lines in football the Eagles have an impressive defensive line which means they can rotate through players Brandon Graham, Michael Bennett, Derek Barnett and Chris Long all kept pressure on Matt Ryan while also bottling the run. However it’s Fletcher Cox that just bullied the Falcons, despite showing up sparingly in the box scores. He is a players that teams must account for. All of these players showed up to differing degrees (as did the Eagles secondary) and consistently stalled the Falcons offence on third down. The Falcons converted only 4 of 15 (26%)
Linebacker Jordan Hicks is back and flying around the ball making plays. If he can stay healthy for only the second time in his pro career this will allow the Eagles to utilise his skills in coverage. The improvement in week two will come in the form of Nigel Bradham. Seemingly custom built for defensive coordinator’s aggressive scheme Bradham returns from a one game suspension. Although both Kamu Grugier-Hill and Nathan Gerry flashed at times they showed a lack of physicality and leadership when compared to Bradham. They’ll need all of that leadership on Sunday as they face a Buccaneers team that is riding high on Fitz-magic!
That being said the Eagles failed to neutralise Julio Jones who had 169 yards on 10 receptions. Even when the Eagles had great coverage Jones managed to beat the team. They will not always face a receiver of Jones’ caliber but they must find a way to eliminate the big plays. If he clears concussion protocol, the Eagles will face DeSean Jackson on Sunday. The Eagles are well aware what Jackson can do. He played for the team for 6 seasons and is still one of the best deep threats in football. He can’t be allowed to spark Tampa Bay the way he did in Week One.
Help needed at receiver – Going into the match Eagles had some injuries at the receiver position. Star receiver Alshon Jeffrey is going to miss the first few games of the season and Mack Hollins was placed on injured reserve. I assumed that the Eagles would play to their strengths and play a lot of two tight end sets. This didn’t happen and the Eagles struggled early as a result. It wasn’t until the second half that Jay Ajayi wore down the Falcons and the Eagles took control.
DeAndre Carter, a journeyman thus far in his career, played 53 snaps yet only had one reception. His play count vastly outweighed Shelton Gibson, who played only 4 plays despite showing significant improvement in the pre-season. Finally, Mike Wallace was brought in as upgrade over Torrey Smith but his first showing was disappointing as he failed to register a reception in 66 plays. Incredulously, Nick Foles was the Eagle fourth leading receiver with just 15 yards. Whether through trade, or in the form of practice squad additions like Brixton Miller, the Eagles need help. For the record recently re-signed Kamar Aiken is not the answer. Nor is Dez Bryant!
Foles Faltered – Nick Foles is not the most consistent player in the league. Eagles fans have been here before. Watching him over the course of the season will produce mountainous highs and cavernous lows. Thursday night was one of those low shots . 19 of 34 for 117 and an interception. Yes Foles had some drops but he look slow to process in the pocket and failed to see open receivers. He must improve to allow the Eagles defence time to recover. The Eagles third down efficiency which proved so crucial last year was lacking in game one and they converted on only 50% of their third downs.
The deep passes that Foles excelled at often in the team’s Super Bowl run were missing. In the season opener Foles played like he was trying not to lose, not like he wanted to win. The Eagles offense is at its best when running hard and being aggressive throwing the ball. Against a Buccaneers team that will be missing several defensive starters Nick must rebound.
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