The Eagles’ season opening performance against the Falcons certainly didn’t reflect the gold standard of play the team displayed last season, as the game was littered with frustrating turnovers and gaffes, but it was good enough to put the Birds in the win column to start their championship defending campaign. Incumbent starting quarterback Nick Foles struggled to get into a rhythm on offense seemingly all night, but the defense backed their Super Bowl LII MVP with a dominant performance to put the team in position to win. The final play- in an oddly satisfying déjà vu-esque manner- ended with yet another incomplete endzone target for Pro Bowl WR Julio Jones. Atlanta, to their credit, played Philly incredibly tough all night for what turned out to be an ultra-competitive ballgame, but they simply couldn’t execute when it mattered most- just as they couldn’t in divisional round last winter. The Eagles are 1-0 following their 18-12 thriller, and here are a few statistical takeaways from the season opener:
Rhythm and Rhyme
Foles’ aforementioned lack of rhythm resulted in an abysmal 117 passing yard performance, which is the lowest output of any Eagles’ quarterback to throw at least 25 passes in a game since.. Foles threw for 80 yards on 29 attempts vs Dallas in 2013. He certainly wasn’t aided by a few costly drops last night, but it was still a shoddy performance at best. Foles will need to be much better against Tampa Bay in Week 2.
Falcons Linebackers won the day
Superstar and usually sure-handed TE Zach Ertz had an uncharacteristic night against Atlanta, as he dropped his first pass since November of 2016. Unfortunately, the drop seemed to haunt him a bit, as he went on to drop two more passes later in the game. There isn’t much cause for long-term concern, as it was likely a case of opening night jitters, and I fully expect him to bounce back to his usual self when the team takes the field again.
The little engine that could
Last night wasn’t all bad statistically for the Eagles, as the ever-explosive, human swiss army knife Darren Sproles made a bit of history in his first game back since tearing his ACL:
— Philadelphia Eagles (@Eagles) September 7, 2018
No better way to remind the league that you’ve still got something left in the tank than to surpass two HOFers and move to sixth-place in NFL history in all-purpose yards. Hat tip to you, Sproles.
Feed me more!
As I alluded to earlier, the defense was absolutely dominant last night. 2016 NFL MVP Matt Ryan was kept off balance all night by different defensive looks and finished the game with just 251 passing yards and an interception. Ryan’s 251 passing yards marks the 13th time the Eagles have held a quarterback to less than 260 passing yards on 25+ passing attempts in their last 20 games(!). It may have only been the season opener, but the defense appears to be in midseason form.
Mandatory Credit: Eric Hartline-USA TODAY Sports