After their big week 1 comeback win, the Eagles head down to Atlanta in hopes of going 2-0. The Falcons are coming off a shocking loss to the Vikings in which their defense looked like they were still in training camp. On the offense, both teams will be looking to start off hot and will depend on their dynamic duos on the outside.
For the Eagles, the question isn’t who will for the wide receivers, but more so how can they be efficient against a Falcons secondary that is a shell of their former selves. DeSean Jackson will be a heavy focus for the defense due to his big-play ability but then that opens the door for the shifty Agholor in the middle or even the big target, Alshon Jeffery.
Both Jeffery and Jackson left week 1 with two touchdowns apiece. Granted, Jeffery’s counted as a rushing touchdown but it’s still a score regardless. Sorry to all of the Wentz fantasy owners, including myself. Moment of silence…..Ok, back to the matter at hand. The Eagles wideouts and the Falcons wideouts draw a huge comparison when It comes to abilities. Even the x-factors themselves are pretty identical, meaning Agholor and Sanu. So who has the bigger edge?
Both are facing secondaries that have something to prove with the Eagles’ secondary being a bit younger in age. The Falcons will lineup Isaiah Oliver and Desmond Trufant with Keanu Neal and Ricardo Allen manning the safety positions. The Eagles, on the other hand, will be sticking to their CB by committee approach with Ronald Darby, Sidney Jones, Rasul Douglas, and Avonte Maddox. While Malcolm Jenkins, Rodney McLeod, and Andrew Sendejo holding down the safety positions.
So who has a clear cut advantage?
Against the Eagles, Julio Jones has been an absolute terror against the secondary. The last three times they met, Jones torched the Eagles. In 2016 he had 10 receptions for 135 yards, 2017 he followed up with 9 receptions for 101 yards and in 2018, Jones had 10 receptions with 169 yards to go along with it. One thing has remained constant though, Jones hasn’t scored a touchdown on the Eagles in there last three matchups. As for Calvin Ridley, he was fairly non-existent the last time out with only 2 targets but no catches while playing 66% of the snaps. Obviously, this time around he may be more of a factor after having a decent game against the Vikings but nothing’s guaranteed.
Now the last time the Eagles played the Falcons, neither Alshon Jeffery or DeSean Jackson were present. Jackson was still with Tampa Bay while Jeffery was nursing himself back to full health. The last time Jeffery faced Atlanta was in the playoffs during their 2017 Super Bowl run in which he put up 61 yards on 4 receptions. As for Jackson, the last three times he played against Atlanta he had 1 reception for 11 yards in the first game of 2017 while following that up with 8 receptions for 60 yards in the second head to head matchup in 2017. Then in 2018 with the Bucs, he caught 4 passes for 77 yards. Neither receiver has had a touchdown against Dan Quinn’s Falcons.
All in all this game may be won in the trenches unless either wideout group explodes. The Eagles are coming off a game where their offense fired off on all cylinders in the second half, while the Falcons may still be dealing with what went wrong against the Vikings. Both running games can decide the fate of this but I believe that whichever wideout group shows out will ultimately decide this one.
Mandatory Credit: Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports