Philadelphia Eagles: Previewing Week 1 meeting with Atlanta Falcons

PHILADELPHIA, PA - JANUARY 13: Quarterback Nick Foles
PHILADELPHIA, PA - JANUARY 13: Quarterback Nick Foles /
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(Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)
(Photo by Elsa/Getty Images) /

When the Eagles are on defense

This Falcons’ offense has a ton of firepower, and people seem to forget that they were the league’s best offense just two years ago when they made a run to the Super Bowl. Last year though was a down year in Atlanta’s first year with Steve Sarkisian as offensive coordinator.

Led by Ryan, Jones, and Devonta Freeman, this Falcons’ offense has the potential to put up lots of points in a hurry. The Eagles’ defense is going to have their hands full with Atlanta’s high-octane offense, but they will look to shut them down like they did in their previous two matchups.

Philadelphia’s defense this year may be even better than the one that won a Super Bowl last year. But the biggest question going into their Week 1 matchup is at the linebacker position. Jordan Hicks returns from a season-ending injury, but outside of him, it is a lot of unknown with Nigel Bradham serving a one-game suspension.

It will be Nate Gerry and Kamu Grugier-Hill starting alongside Hicks at linebacker and they both should see the field a lot since the Falcons run a lot of 12 (one running back, two tight ends) and 21 (two running backs, one tight end) personnel, causing the Eagles to line up in their base 4-3 defense a lot more often.

The secondary is going to need a big day, as they are going to be tasked with slowing down the aforementioned Jones, as well as Mohamed Sanu and rookie Calvin Ridley.

Jalen Mills should continue to build off of a solid sophomore season, and Ronald Darby should be back to his full potential since he is now one year removed from that gruesome leg injury in last year’s opener.

The biggest question will be “rookie” Sidney Jones, who will be most likely manning the slot. We all know the talent is there, but how will he look in his first full game in the NFL, and additionally, how will he look in the slot, a position he never played in college.

Up front is where the Eagles are the most talented and that is where they should have the biggest advantage. If that unit can slow down the Falcons’ running game and get to Ryan, then the defense should be in for a big day.

All in all, it is going to be a tough matchup for the Eagles’ defense, but the talent is there and with the home crowd behind, it should be a challenge they can live up to.