Man has it been a rollercoaster first week. Everything, though, seemed to fall into place and be ready for us to dominate our week 1 opponent. After the falcons game, we find ourselves being in our usual passionate fan mode. We blame the direct reasons for why we lost (hey Parkey and Matthews!) and don’t look at the game as a whole. I used to find myself blaming the last 2 minutes of games up until about 2 years ago when I decided to watch it as a fan first, then watch it a second time on tape as just a sports watcher. After watching the Eagles/Falcons Tilt again last night, a ton of things stood out for me that can show the Eagles have a bright future.
Starting from the least talked about position, Ertz and Celek both had a few good catches, with Celek still showing you really shouldn’t stand in front of him hoping to stop him, and Ertz proving that a LB DEFINITELY cannot cover him the whole game. Ertz ability to get open against LBs, Safeties, and Corners give us a mismatch no matter what team we play that we MUST exploit. Moving just a few inches over, you see Matthews, Agholor, Austin, and Huff (our pass catchers). Throughout the game they were consistently in man to man with safeties over top. In the first half, Bradford was trying to exploit this with out-routes that just were a second off. We have a group of big, tough, and agile receivers, and we should be doing what the falcons did and run short in routes, hooks, and cross plays between our slot receiver and Ertz. The speed, power, and shear playmaking ability of those two would be a NIGHTMARE for ANY team…not just the NFC east.
Regardless of these small things, the offense as a whole looked very good. Our offensive line (regardless of the multiple terrible calls on Kelce and the rest of the O-Line on long runs or screen passes) looked strong, especially Peters (as always) and Lane had two costly penalties but didn’t let his guy get even close to Bradford on most plays. Our two starting guards seemed like they are panning out to be above average starters, and Kelce (as always) is reliable and attacks with his arms first to keep the D-Line or LBs in front of him at all times.
Bradford looked to have an even quicker release than he did with the Rams, and his decisions were very good whether it be on the first or fifth read. The precision on his passes were as surgical as advertised and he looks every part of the franchise QB we have been searching for since McNabb lost that title after the 2009 season. As much as Murray, Matthews, and Sproles were ridiculed for the poor rushing stats on the game, a few were called back on bad calls. They also didn’t run the ball much, with us being down by quite a bit already in the first half. The thing I did see was three backs unselfishly swapping in and out, giving up their bodies for blocks, and even doing something they don’t usually do (Murray had a TD catch, his first, which matches his total TD catches from ALL LAST YEAR). Plus you must remember, Murray and Sproles ended the day with a good TOTAL yards from scrimmage, and in the NFL, it doesn’t matter HOW you get the yards but that you DO! Matthews had over 100 yards receiving showing his rookie year could be just scratching the surface of his potential.
The defense as a whole played very well, but gave up just a few too many short receptions that became 15-20 yard gains. The missed holding calls didn’t help our pass rushers, but that isn’t an excuse as Barwin, Cox, and Graham MUST get more pressure on the opposing Offense.
Our run defense was up and down, with Bennie Logan EASILY the standout of the game on that front. He may be a little lighter this year, but he is MUCH stronger, and obviously just as fast or faster than last year. He may just be the key to the true potential of this defense.
Our secondary does look to be much improved though, as we would have lost by much more had we been with the same backup caliber guys we had last year. Watching Fletch and Cary Williams get burned or miss tackles all day Sunday brought a smile to my face. At the end of the day, Malcolm Jenkins and Thurmond both had very good nights at the Safety spots (Nate Allen, on the other hand, tore his MCL and is out 6 to 10 weeks). Nolan Carroll held his own all night as well, even making a very good play on a second down pass (that ended up leading to a 3 and out series) that shows he has range and that he definitely has the ability to be a starting CB. Maxwell seemed a little rusty in the first half, misreading the routes a few times, but shook that off and played much better in the second half, but still needs to improve.
All in all, the Eagles have a ton of things to learn from, and a ton of things they did well and should continue. Remember guys, this is our FIRST GAME with 5 new starters on Offense and 5 on Defense that are still getting to know one another and they can only improve from this game. Barring any injuries, I still see our 11-5 prediction being correct, with a MUST WIN coming Sunday against the injured Dallas Cowboys at The LINC! So lets keep supporting this team, show them our passion and love, and they will make us proud. At the end of the day Sunday, we will see the Heart and Pride this Eagles team has for the name, the city, and the fans!
LET’S GO BIRDS!
QUICK NOTE: Parkey needs to stop getting so much grief though, as even Akers missed game winners in his career. He is a future All-Pro kicker in this league, and remember, we got him for a Practice Squad player last season, leading to him being actually talked about as a rookie of the year candidate (as a KICKER) and breaking the all-time rookie scoring record!
WRITTEN BY: Evan Ensley