Five Takeaways From Eagles Week 1 Loss vs. Falcons

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4.) Make Up Your Mind on Maxwell

Sep 14, 2015; Atlanta, GA, USA; Atlanta Falcons wide receiver Roddy White (84) carries the ball after a catch chased by Philadelphia Eagles defensive back Byron Maxwell (31) in the second quarter at the Georgia Dome. Mandatory Credit: Brett Davis-USA TODAY Sports

There was a reason to have left out the highest-paid, and perhaps most important new member to the Eagles. Byron Maxwell was brought in to Philadelphia to make people forget about what happened in 2014 with the secondary. For a team that was torched by the division’s three best receivers in the final weeks of last season, the 2015 opener was like de ja vu, all over again.

Maxwell did not look good against the Falcons. Regardless of who he was covering, the former Seahawk did not make enough plays to account for the gains that came at his expense. It wasn’t just Julio Jones taking advantage of Maxwell either. Atlanta’s passing game was what saved them in this game and several eyes fell upon the Eagles high-priced corner for answers.

While there is no doubt that Maxwell has to step his game up, a pair of contests against division opponents without their top target should help, there is an argument for how the corner is utilized. During the preseason, defensive coordinator Billy Davis mentioned that he might be willing to break off of his commitment to playing a cornerback for each side of the field and instead stick Maxwell on the opposition’s primary receiver for the whole game. Though he was matched up with Jones at times Monday, Maxwell did not follow the freakish Falcons receiver wherever he went.

Like it or not, no one is going to buy Maxwell being simply a cog in Davis’s defensive unit at the price tag he is at. Much like a running back can benefit from being consistently fed the ball and pounding away at an opposition, a cornerback can benefit from covering the same receiver throughout the game. Maxwell mentioned postgame he had not guarded Jones before, but likely would have picked up some of his tendencies or tells had he been matched up with him throughout. Though he did not make the same statistical impact he did in the first half, Jones’s 2nd half grab setting up the Falcons game-winning field goal with Maxwell in coverage was as big a play as any in the game.

There’s no point in being wishy-washy with Maxwell. Either decide to stick him on the opponent’s top target now or make a definitive, albeit conflicting, statement that the defense will continue to play its corners the way Davis has during his tenure in Philadelphia. The Eagles need to find out whether or not Maxwell is capable of minimizing an opponent’s top target, or if he will simply serve as a very high-priced member of the team’s collective secondary. The Eagles likely won’t have to face DeSean Jackson or Dez Bryant in the coming weeks, but will have to do so eventually. Finding out if they have the man to stop either of them, amongst others, is of utmost importance.