The Nick Sirianni and Jalen Hurts led Philadelphia Eagles handled the Atlanta Falcons this past Sunday by a score of 32-6. There is a lot to unpack from this game.
Jalen Hurts had complete control of this offense. The highlights of his beautiful passes are what will have people excited, but what is most important is the poise he showed. Smart reads were made on the backside Defensive Ends in the run game and he went through his progressions in the passing game. He read the pocket effectively, escaping at the perfect time – not to early but also not too late. Many times Carson Wentz would remain stationary too long which would result in a sack, but we saw none of that from Jalen Hurts. When pressure got to him or the coverage was like a blanket, he didn’t force the ball down field, yet he found his check down instead. A+ effort from our QB1.
After Jalen Hurts, the next impressive is Nick Sirianni. His play calling and grasp of the situation at hand was masterful. From the precisely calculated first drive, to the two minute drill to close out the first half, to running the clock towards the end, he was in control all game and executed his game plan. Props to the new head coach.
With that being said, it all starts up front. If your linemen don’t do their job, good quarterback play and coaching does not matter. Although they desperately need to cut down on penalties, the offensive line had an incredible day.
There were many questions in the offseason regarding the Birds’ skilled position players. Not only was there drama surrounding Zach Ertz, but there were major question marks about the lack of experience at wide receiver, and there was also plenty of criticism surrounding Miles Sanders and his drop issues. Not one skilled player had a bad game. Devonta Smith obviously stands out as the Eagles’ most productive weapon on Sunday, but even Jalen Reagor matched his reception total with six grabs. Both guys notched a touchdown on top of that. Quez Watkins’ speed was showcased early and even J.J. Arcega-Whiteside had an excellent day. The third year wide out failed to record a catch, but he was a dominant blocker in the run game and on screens (which were very successful throughout the game). Like past Eagles teams, multiple tight ends and running backs were utilized. Rookie Kenneth Gainwell provided a nice change of pace and found the end zone for his first career NFL Touchdown.
Not to be the bearer of bad news, but this defense will need to improve going into the home opener this week. There are plenty of positives to discuss, however the run defense is a major concern.
The Falcons accumulated one hundred yards on the ground by the second quarter. This coming against a front that is known for shutting down the run. The defensive line was able to pad their stats in the second half once Falcons head coach Arthur Smith abandoned the run, but their play prior to that is a major concern. If this is not fixed soon, Kyle Shanahan will have a field day against them. With that being said, Javon Hargrave looks to finally be 100% healthy and he had an amazing day up the middle.
The Linebackers collectively as a unit were very disappointing. Eric Wilson didn’t seem to position himself too badly, but came up short on too many tackles. Genard Avery is still receiving playing time which is baffling considering it seems as if he still has yet to learn how to properly fill a gap. Alex Singleton once again looks like this team’s best linebacker.
On the flip side, the secondary needs to give themselves a huge pat on the back. Every player played Jonathan Gannon’s zone scheme precisely how it was drawn up. Darius Slay looked to be back to his normal self and his counterparts Steven Nelson and Avonte Maddox also impressed. Anthony Harris was the most important member of the secondary. In his first game with wings on his helmet, he was all over the field playing a major role with both Rodney McLeod and Marcus Epps sidelined.
At the end of the day, the defense gave up a lot of yards early, but did a phenomenal job in the red zone and gave their offense time to gain a significant lead.
Special Teams Observations:
Special Teams cannot be taken for granted! Although the coverage on kick and punt returns was non existent, Sunday was a day to be celebrated. Jake Elliott nailed every extra point and field goal he attempted after an abysmal 2020 season. Arryn Siposs shined in his first game as an Eagle, landing three punts inside the ten yard line. That is an incredible performance from the punter that will be overlooked.
Overall, great game from the Eagles. The offense and special teams were outstanding and the defense also had a good outing despite some issues that will be talked down.