We’re just a few days away from Philadelphia Eagles football which means it’s finally time to start looking ahead to their week one opponent and what the team will need to do in order to start a new era in the best way possible. The good news is that there’s one matchup in particular that heavily favors the Eagles.
Much like their bird-counterparts, the Atlanta Falcons entered the offseason in desperate need of change. The change wasn’t nearly as aggressive in Atlanta, and while there is a new Head Coach in town and a defense coordinated by the notorious Dean Pees, you can argue that he doesn’t have that many weapons on the back end.
Outside of Grady Jarrett being the highest-paid player on the team, there really aren’t that many defensive weapons at all, but the secondary in particular looks like a bodge-job that’s been put together in a hurry.
A.J Terrell headlines the cornerback position, with Fabian Moreau playing opposite. There’s no doubting Terrell’s talent after a strong rookie year, but Isaiah Oliver (Now a safety?) and Moreau both had quiet offseasons, and it’s not like the latter exactly glistened during his time at Washington.
The team’s natural third corner, Kendall Sheffield, started 9 games for Atlanta last year, is currently on IR. This leaves a very young group that while possessing potential, may lack the requisite traits, outside of Terrell to keep up with the speedy trio that Philadelphia are bringing to the table.
If the lack of notable experience on the outside isn’t salivating, the fact that names like Erik Harris and Duron Harmon headline the Safety position alongside a converted CB in Oliver, absolutely should. Harris amassed a PFF grade of 57 last year, registering only 44 tackles.
Their secondary was a shambles last year, ranking bottom in the NFL and allowing more big-plays (20-yards plus) than anyone else. The acquisitions this offseason won’t exactly stop the bleeding and the Eagles may have a few ounces of Salt to rub into the wound.
DeVonta Smith enters his rookie year on the back of a Heisman-winning campaign for their Crimson Tide and a Summer of crisp route-running that challenged Darius Slay on plenty of occasions. His preseason debut showed more of the same and that should strike fear into the eyes of a secondary shell that is hardly made of steel.
Nick Sirianni has done a great job of prioritizing the things his players do well when it comes to building his offense, allowing for a training camp breakout from Quez Watkins and Jalen Reagor’s ressurection. This isn’t to say that the Eagles are going to torch the Falcons for 400 passing yards, because the receiving group is just as raw as Atlanta’s DB’s. However, you can absolutely make the case that a trio of strong offseasons will ignite confidence within the group and Sirianni is aware enough to scheme his rapid receivers into open space.
Jalen Hurts could have a field day against the Falcons in week one so long as three wideouts who are red-hot coming into the season are able to get the best of a secondary that’s among the least-intimidating they’ll face all year.
This is a huge opportunity for the new receiving corps to put the terrors of years past behind them and you’d like to think that the odds are in their favor.
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