The Eagles were slow to get going Monday night against the Falcons and everything was just out of sync. Bradford and the wide receivers weren’t on the same page and the defense was unable get a stop. The Eagles fell behind big early after the defense was unable to stop Julio Jones, who finished with nine catches for 141 yards and two touchdowns(both in the 1st half) and Matt Bryant just doesn’t miss any field goals against the Eagles. The pass rush was a big reason why the secondary was being picked apart by Matt Ryan because he had all the day to throw. The Eagles were able to get on the board halfway through second quarter after Cody Parkey made the 29-yard field goal, but offense still wasn’t in any type of rhythm and the Eagles trailed by 17 heading into halftime. It could have been much worse for the Eagles if Kiko Alonso did not make that one-handed interception in the end zone. Also the Eagles for some reason decided to only run the ball seven times in the first half and gave fans flashbacks to Andy Reid. It’s unacceptable to pass it 27 times and only run it seven times when you have DeMarco Murray, Ryan Mathews, and Darren Sproles in your backfield.
The Eagles defense opened up the second half on high note when Walter Thurmond picked off Matt Ryan and brought it back inside the Falcons 8-yard line. The turnover led to an 8-yard touchdown run by DeMarco Murray, his first as an Eagle, and just like that it’s a game again. On the ensuing Falcons drive, Malcolm Jenkins nearly picked off Ryan on third down and the ball went right back to the Eagles. Sam Bradford really found his groove on this drive completing nine of ten passes for 91 yards and capping off the drive with a five-yard touchdown pass to DeMarco Murray to cut the Falcons lead to three. At this point, the Eagles had scored fourteen unanswered points and Falcons were in need of an answer. Matt Ryan went back to Julio Jones on a slant pass to get the Falcons into Eagles territory and it looked like a promising drive until a holding call wiped out a big pass play to Tevin Coleman. Then on third down, Julio Jones broke wide open down the sideline and it looked like a sure touchdown, but Connor Barwin did not give up on the play and he laid out to break up the pass. The Falcons settled for a field goal, pushing the lead up to 23-17. On the next Eagles drive, Sam Bradford picked up where he left off, finding Darren Sproles for a 24 yard gain then following that up with Zach Ertz making a spectacular catch to keep the chains moving. A quick screen to Jordan Matthews, who would finish game with ten receptions for 102 yards, brought the Eagles down all the way to the one-yard line. Ryan Mathews would follow that up with his first touchdown as an Eagle, giving the Eagles a 24-23 lead with 8:37 left in the fourth quarter. The Eagles defense continued to look strong in the second half not allowing any touchdowns, also getting pressure on Ryan and forced the Falcons to kick another field goal to retake a 24-23 lead with 6:27 left in the game. The Eagles were moving down field quickly after getting the ball back and then on third and one, they were stopped short. Usually the Eagles would seriously consider going for it on fourth and short, but instead they elected to bring out Cody Parkey, which was a big mistake. Parkey had problems in the preseason and it carried over Monday as he missed the go-ahead 44-yard field goal wide right with 2:27 left in the game. All seemed lost for the Eagles, but the defense didn’t give up with Malcolm Jenkins stuffing Coleman on third and one, forcing the Falcons to punt. The Eagles had new life, but it was short lived after Bradford’s pass went through Jordan Matthews hands ending up as an interception putting the final nail in the Eagles coffin.
My take on the game: The Eagles secondary, which was a huge problem last year, looked absolutely terrible aside from the safeties Malcolm Jenkins and Walter Thurmond. Byron Maxwell looked like Bradley Fletcher out there and Julio Jones had his way with him, reeling in nine catches for 141 yards and two touchdowns. One of the few bright spots on the defense was the front seven, who were able to get pressure on Ryan in the second half and forced him into bad decisions. I said the front seven was going to be one of the keys to the game and their showing in the second half was encouraging. The trio of Kiko Alonso, Connor Barwin, and Mychal Kendricks each played pretty well and made some key plays in the game. On the offensive side, Sam Bradford after finding his groove looked unstoppable and he had pinpoint accuracy completing almost seventy percent of his passes. The offensive line struggled mightily, which really hurt the running game and Bradford got hit hard several times. Even though the offensive line was iffy, the Eagles should have run the ball more and having Bradford drop back 52 times isn’t the way it should be drawn up when you have DeMarco Murray, Darren Sproles, and Ryan Mathews. Aside from last the play the Eagles had on offense, Jordan Matthews had a nice game with ten catches for 102 yards. After all the hype during the preseason, I think it’s good the Eagles got beat the way they did and it’s a wake up call that they need to get in sync and also build on what they did in the second half. Keep in mind it’s only one game and the Eagles can be tied for first place next week because they got Dallas next and you know how badly the Eagles want to beat Dallas.