Philadelphia Eagles vs. Atlanta Falcons Semi-Coherent Preview

Sep 14, 2015; Atlanta, GA, USA; Atlanta Falcons wide receiver Julio Jones (11) catches a touchdown pass past Philadelphia Eagles defensive back Byron Maxwell (31) in the second quarter at the Georgia Dome. Mandatory Credit: Jason Getz-USA TODAY Sports
Sep 14, 2015; Atlanta, GA, USA; Atlanta Falcons wide receiver Julio Jones (11) catches a touchdown pass past Philadelphia Eagles defensive back Byron Maxwell (31) in the second quarter at the Georgia Dome. Mandatory Credit: Jason Getz-USA TODAY Sports /

A preview of the matchup between the Philadelphia Eagles and Atlanta Falcons.

After playing three straight opponents coming off of their bye weeks, the Philadelphia Eagles will get to face a relatively unrested opponent in the Atlanta Falcons. The Falcons have only had ten days off after playing last Thursday.

The good news is that after two straight road games, the Eagles will be returning home where  they have played far better and are 3-0.

Atlanta Falcons

Record: 6-3 (First place in NFC West)

Last week: Defeated Tampa Bay Buccaneers 43-28

Head coach: Dan Quinn

The last time they met

Philadelphia Eagles
Sep 14, 2015; Atlanta, GA, USA; Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Sam Bradford (7) throws the ball under pressure by Philadelphia Eagles linebacker Brandon Graham (55) in the fourth quarter at the Georgia Dome. Mandatory Credit: Brett Davis-USA TODAY Sports /

When the 2015 season started, many people expected the Eagles to make a run at the Super Bowl. Their week one game against the Falcons made a lot of people reconsider those expectations. Sam Bradford and the Eagles’ offense got off to a slow start, and they trailed 20-3 at the half.

Bradford led the team back in the second half, and the Eagles were able to take a one point lead. But the Falcons went back ahead with a field goal, and on the Eagles’ final drive, Jordan Matthews allowed a pass to bounce off his hands for an interception.

It was the first sign that 2015 was not going to be the amazing season that we hoped for.

What’s the deal with the Falcons?

Quarterback Matt Ryan is playing at an MVP level, and as a result, the Falcons’ offense is leading the NFL in points scored. They are averaging 6.8 yards per play, which is the best total since the 2000 Rams.

More from Philadelphia Eagles

While Julio Jones deservedly gets most of the credit, they’ve also received contributions from running back Devonta Freeman, and receivers Mohamed Sanu and Tevin Coleman.

The Falcons aren’t as strong defensively, ranking 28th in points allowed. Part of that may be due to inexperience, as they currently have four rookies in the starting lineup. The Falcons do a decent job of rushing the quarterback, led by linebacker Vic Beasley and defensive end Adrian Clayborn.

Featured Falcons player: Julio Jones

Philadelphia Eagles
Nov 3, 2016; Tampa, FL, USA; Atlanta Falcons wide receiver Julio Jones (11) runs past Tampa Bay Buccaneers outside linebacker Adarius Glanton (53) during the second half at Raymond James Stadium. Atlanta Falcons defeated the Tampa Bay Buccaneers 43-28. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports /

Before the 2015 season, Eagles fans thought the team acquired a top cornerback in Byron Maxwell. They had to watch in horror as Maxwell was repeatedly toasted by in his Eagles debut by Julio Jones. Maxwell wasn’t actually as bad as he looked that night, Jones is just that good. He’s arguably the best wide receiver in the NFL right now.

The scary thing about Jones’ season is that he’s had three games where he’s been held under 30 yards, and the Falcons won all three games with an average of 33 points scored. In order to slow him down, teams need to focus so much attention on Jones that it opens things up for the rest of the offense.

The Philadelphia Eagles might be better suited letting one of their corners try to cover Jones one-on-one, and trying to stop everyone else. However, the Panthers tried a similar approach in week four, and Jones had a 300(!) yard day.

Reason to hate the Falcons

I was SO excited for the start of the 2015 season, and the Falcons (admittedly with a lot of help from Chip Kelly) instantly killed that enthusiasm.

Super important Eagles storyline: Is Bryce Treggs the answer?

Philadelphia Eagles
Nov 6, 2016; East Rutherford, NJ, USA; Philadelphia Eagles wide receiver Bryce Treggs (16) makes a catch over New York Giants free safety Nat Berhe (29) during the first half at MetLife Stadium. Mandatory Credit: William Hauser-USA TODAY Sports /

I’ll give the Eagles some credit: They really did try to improve at wide receiver. They signed a speedy free agent familiar with Sam Bradford in Chris Givens. They signed a free agent with some decent NFL experience in Rueben Randle. They traded for a young player with potential in Dorial Green-Beckham. Unfortunately, none of those moves have really worked out so far.

Last week they gave undrafted rookie Bryce Treggs a chance to play, and they saw some positive results. In the first half, Treggs got open deep and hauled in a 58 yard reception. He had another catch later in the game, and might have had another deep catch if Carson Wentz hadn’t overthrown him.

It would be foolish to think that Treggs is some sort of savior. There’s a reason he went undrafted and hadn’t seen the field before last week. But he does add a much-needed element of speed to the Eagles’ wide receiver corps.

Tweets of unimportance

Except that the Eagles’ secondary tightened up considerably in the second half.

And the Eagles could be 7-1 with a few more breaks. But what did Bill Parcells say about your record?

South Park character that somehow relates to this week’s game

I’ve decided to add a new feature to the preview. Each week, I’ll take a character from everyone’s favorite cartoon and explain how he or she is relevant to the game at hand.

Officer Barbrady

Officer Barbrady was a fairly prominent character in early seasons of South Park. (He was the key figure in the “Respect My Authoritah!” episode.) But he soon faded from attention, and was barely seen in recent years. It was then somewhat strange when he then came back to have a major role in last season’s story arc.

Similarly, Matt Ryan made a big splash when he first entered the league and looked as if he was ready to ascend to the top of the NFL quarterback ranks. And then, suddenly he sort of faded away from public consciousness. He wasn’t really bad in those years, but he certainly wasn’t elite, and as the Falcons struggled to win, he was just sort of forgotten.

All of a sudden, everyone remembers “Matty Ice.” He’s playing as well as any quarterback in the league, and might be a strong contender for MVP of the first half.

The Wentz watch

Philadelphia Eagles
Nov 6, 2016; East Rutherford, NJ, USA; Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Carson Wentz (11) walks off the field during the second half against the New York Giants at MetLife Stadium. The Giants defeated the Eagles 28-23. Mandatory Credit: William Hauser-USA TODAY Sports /

The two interceptions Carson Wentz threw in the first half were bad. The decision to make the throw was poor, and he was inaccurate. As a result, the Eagles found themselves in an early hole which they were never truly able to recover from.

It’s a good sign that he was able to recover and lead the team back, but it’s also not good that he was yet again unable to complete the comeback in the fourth quarter.

I find “fourth quarter comebacks” to be somewhat overrated when discussing quarterbacks. Many times, a comeback is only necessary because the quarterback played poorly earlier in the game. But if Wentz is going to get off to slow (or disastrous) starts like last week, he’s going to have to make up for it in the clutch.

Next: Time To Unleash Wentz


The Eagles have looked better at home, and I think they’ll score some points against the Falcons’ defense. Unfortunately, I don’t think they’ll be able to score enough points. The Falcons’ offense has been unstoppable, and the Eagles defense doesn’t seem good enough to change that.

Falcons 33 – Eagles 24