The Eagles travel to Atlanta on Monday Night for their regular season opener and I can’t recall a time I have been more excited for the start of a season. Here are five reasons that the Eagles will walk out of the Georgia Dome with a win.
5: The Pass Rush
The Falcons have an Offensive Line that’s the equivalent of when you have a gas leak and your Dad says “I’ll fix it” sure it does the job but it’s not great. Mike Pearson will be starting his first ever game at Center whilst Jake Matthews has had ongoing back issues. This Offensive Line is coming up against arguably the most intimidating pass rush in the NFC. Connor Barwin led the conference in Sacks last year and is joined by the equally intimidating Fletcher Cox and defensive Mufassa DeMeco Ryans. Not only that but linebacker Kiko Alonso is perhaps the most tenacious in the position. His Pre-season has been limited but an already formidable pass rush has seen a considerable upgrade with the addition of Alonso, then there’s always Vinny Curry. The names mentioned above are the last you’d want to read if you’re part of an Offensive Line that has been duct taped together in a panic. This could be an absolute demolition job come Monday Night for the Eagles front seven and linebackers and Matt Ryan had better be on his tip toes because there are sacks on the horizon.
4: Turning a Corner
New Eagles corner Byron Maxwell will have a trial by fire as he attempts to cover one of the leagues finest in Julio Jones. But he is more than up to the challenge. An interception against Joe Flacco told the story of his impressive pre-season as Maxwell looks to lead this revamped Eagles secondary into battle. X Plays are what ruined the Eagles Defensive hopes last season and it’s those plays where the likes of Thurmond, Maxwell and Rowe are at their best. It would be naive to say that Matt Ryan isn’t going to put up numbers with Jones and White by his side, but those big plays are going to be few and far between in comparison to last season, limiting the Falcons Offense hugely.
3: Multi Dimensional
The biggest problem for the Falcons is going to be the numerous ways the Eagles can exploit weakness on Offense. If you try to sack Bradford too much then screen plays and short passes will punish you, much like Drew Brees did with Darren Sproles just a few seasons ago. If you attempt to shut out the run game, well the Eagles have three different styles of running back to adjust to and if somehow there are no options available..there’s always an army of wide receivers tearing down the sidelines and the sticky hands of Celek over the middle. The Falcons have two main weapons. Julio Jones and Roddy White. But whilst the Falcons have two machine guns, the Eagles have an arsenal of tanks. There are far too many weapons to worry about and it’s almost impossible to cover all of them. As soon as you focus on Jordan Matthews, Nelson Agholor’s burst speed will make your life flash before your eyes. This team is fast, it’s dangerous and it leaves you next to no time to plan how to stop it.
Jordan Matthews rose to the challenge last season and broke out as the Eagles number one receiver. His ability to leap up over corners and bring a ball down is second to none. His speed, size and route running ability make him a danger on every play. But how do you make that even more worrying? Add one of the most accurate pocket passers in the game. Bradford has a unique ability to dip passes over corners and into safe clutches of receivers even if they are just a step in front. His vision and throwing power are simply incredible. Not only did he link well with Matthews in training camp but has already shown his prowess in pre-season. Matthews is a receiver who will go out and make plays in double coverage. A receiver who will challenge any back in the game. All he needs is a Quarterback who can thread the eye of the needle…oh wait, he has that now.
1: Making a statement
Last season the Falcons finished 32nd in Pass Defense. Despite the addition of Dan Quinn to help turn things around, even he has called it “a work in progress”. Not what you want to hear when coming up against the most attacking minded team in the league. Sam Bradford is the perfect Quarterback for this team and it’s the most complete the Eagles have looked since Chip’s arrival. Kelly now has full control over front office actions meaning that every transaction, every extension falls on his shoulders. The Eagles are loaded with Offensive weapons and have the perfect soldier to fire them. Sam Bradford is out to prove the nay sayers wrong and has already left a firm imprint in analyst’s mind against Green Bay in the Pre-Season.
But with his first team receivers by his side, he will dismantle a Defense that’s on a road to redemption. Nelson Agholor’s sheer speed is a problem. Maxwell has called the guy out on being near impossible to catch after a run and with just about every type of receiver possible, the team are loaded. From the physical Riley Cooper to the all rounder in Jordan Matthews, Kelly has a player from just about every area of specialty, giving Falcons fans a headache days before the game.
Bradford exploded in pre-season, can he maintain that level of performance over four quarters and take the big hits? Spoiler alert, yes he can. He may not go 10/10 but this is the dream team for Sam Bradford to reboot his fallen NFL career and he is going to take the first step in becoming the legend he was destined to be when he was the first pick in the 2010 Draft by using that gifted vision to tear apart Atlanta.