The opening week of the NFL season is often filled with surprises and this year was no exception. From the Seahawks losing to the Rams to the astounding Giants vs Cowboys finale. But arguably the biggest shock of all was the Philadelphia Eagles. The Eagles travelled to the Georgia Dome with the world expecting a dominant win, what they were treated to instead was a penalty littered, scrappy first half and a late surge that fell short. Here are the good, bad and ugly talking points from the loss.
It took a while for Sam Bradford to heat up…an entire half to be exact, but when he did it was a firm indication that he is more than capable of leading this team to greatness. The Eagles started with two three and outs and ended up with Bradford amassing 336 yards and a touchdown. Worryingly though, Bradford had 52 pass attempts..much more than anyone thought he would receive especially seeing as it was his first proper game in 694 days. Either way, as the Falcons Defense began to tire, Bradford heated up. He used to play Seattle’s D with the Rams, he knows how to handle himself over four quarters and it showed. As the secondary began to wilter, Bradford exploded, stringing together pass after pass and re-igniting his pre-season form. It wasn’t perfect and we certainly need him to flick the switch much earlier next time..but now with the rust shaken off, it looks as though Bradford has all the weapons to succeed.
Sproles used to light up the Falcons D when he was with New Orleans and after working out in the slot during training camp, we expected that the former Saints running back would yet again be a pivotal part of this Offense. Sproles finished on 50 rushing yards yards received for 76. Spinning off of a defender for a big game was certainly the highlight, but Sproles added that extra danger element on sweep plays that the Falcons simply couldn’t contain towards the end of the game.
Kiko Alonso’s Eagles debut was brilliant. 6 total tackles and an Odell’esque interception saw the linebacker burst onto this Eagles pass rush unit in colourful fashion. Many doubted the trade at first but Alonso brings the fire. In a game where the Eagles Defense kept the team in the matchup in the first half, Alonso stepped up and made the big plays. A very good outing for newly nicknamed KikOOOOH.
Good but not great:
Malcolm Jenkins was another who had a great game, but it appears he lubed his gloves up with Vaseline before the season opener. Jenkins had a couple of opportunities to make big picks but was unable to keep the ball in his hands. Other than that, he had two HUGE third down stops which saved any small hope the Eagles had of getting back into the game. 3 passes deflected and 7 tackles marks a solid outing for Malcolm Jenkins.
RUN THE BALL:
Last night, the Eagles had 52 pass attempts and just 16 rushing attempts. This is bad for so many reasons. The three headed monster $60m backfield had 30% of snaps go its way. That’s simply not acceptable. Especially considering said backfield accounted for three touchdowns on the night. Sam Bradford should not be expected to throw the ball 52 times in a single game, especially considering it’s his first game back..and even more so when you have three of the most dangerous backs in the league stood behind him.
Offensive Line weaker than expected:
The absence of Mathis and Herremans didn’t seem to matter much in pre-season and most felt comfortable with the situation..until last night. Bradford was left virtually no time to throw the ball early on and Kelly later explained the “field goal” decision was largely down to a poor O-Line push on third down. It could also explain why there were so few running plays. Towards the end things did seem to improve, especially with pass protection but overall there is definitely a cause for concern.
Multi Million Meltdown:
The signing of Byron Maxwell was one of the biggest moves of the off-season and one of the most exciting. Maxwell was expected to have a big game against Atlanta and stick it to the tandem of Roddy White and Julio Jones..however he was unsuccessful. For some reason it was Carroll covering Jones for a large chunk of the game but there were several occasions in which Maxwell was completely burned out. Jones is one of the toughest receivers to cover in the game, there’s no denying it. But Maxwell was exploited again and again with very few signs of promise. We’re not saying Maxwell is a waste or that he is a cause for concern..but that performance was closer to a Bradley Fletcher display compared to a former Legion of Boom display..he has to get better.
Here’s some trivia for you. What were there more of? Sam Bradford pass attempts or total number of flags thrown? The answer: Probably a lot closer than you might think. There were some terrible calls by the referee’s on the night including a call on Kiko Alonso that should never have been, causing the Eagles to turn the ball over as opposed to a huge play. The Eagles were penalised heavily last night and was one of the major factors in the loss. You can’t blame it all on the refs and the players certainly have to take some responsibility..but what was otherwise a brilliant Football Game from a neutral standpoint was turned into the refs playing basketball with flags.
Which ever way you look at it, the play calling was just ugly. From the controversial decision to rush a field goal attempt to only having one man on Julio all night, Chip Kelly was seemingly outsmarted in the first half before forcing his way back into the game in the closing stages. There was a severe lack of running game that we have already spoken about and that simply has to change in the future. Bradford should not have to throw 50 times a game and this backfield is capable of racking up serious yards on third down. There were some Offensive plays that made no sense, Bradford threw to a receiver who had no idea the ball was coming his way at one point. There were issues all game long and they simply have to be rectified.
What did you think? What aspects of the game were good, bad or ugly? Let us know in the comments or tweet us @PhiladelphiaSN