1-0 everybody. One win, zero losses. Yes, it is the first game, but anytime a team wins in the NFL, it’s an incredible feeling. The start of a new era has begun, as Dan Quinn has notched his first ever win as a head coach in the NFL. 26-24 was the final score, as it ended up being closer than people thought after the first half. There was good, there was bad, but we can all agree a Falcon’s win, is a Falcon’s win.
The Good: The Defense Looks Better Than Before
The Falcons defense did in fact have an up and down game. In the first half, they looked like a top defensive team in the NFL. The catchphrase “fast and physical” was in full effect, as Atlanta’s players had some very vicious hits. The second half was a different story though, as the Eagles offense looked like they couldn’t be stopped. Play after play, it seemed like the Bradford to Matthews connection was unstoppable, but the Falcon’s defense found life late in the fourth quarter. Paul Worrilow’s stop on third down with 3:14 left in the 4th quarter was a great reminder of what was the Falcon’s defense looked like, and what it could be; fast and physical. The Eagles went onto miss the field goal wide right, and with 1:17 left in the game, Ricardo Allen reeled in a tipped ball off the hands of Jordan Matthews making the game-winning interception. Hats off to the defense for holding their own, and hopefully the first half defense, becomes a full game defense.
Who Can Cover Julio Jones?
There is no bias involved, but who in the league can cover Falcons superstar receiver Julio Jones? The man is a freak of nature, and he showed the world why he got that massive contract extension. Nine receptions for 141 yards with two touchdowns are superstar numbers. The Eagles number one cornerback, Byron Maxwell, had no chance the whole night covering him. Watch out NFL, cause Jones is ready to prove his worth one touchdown at a time.
Tevin Coleman Looks Like the Future
The third-round pick out of Indiana showed flashes on why people believe he could be a draft steal. He had 20 carries for 80 yards, and made very smart decisions out of the backfield. 20 carries is something rookie running backs do not usually see in their first game, but it looks Dan Quinn and Kyle Shanahan trust their young back. Coleman and Devonta Freeman can end up being a great one-two punch, as they looked to feed off each other. The Eagles had to respect the running game, which helped open up the passing game for quarterback Matt Ryan.
The Bad: Matt Ryan Forced Too Many Passes
Matt Ryan will be the first to admit that he didn’t have the best of games. Ryan was 23/34 with 298 yards, notching 2 touchdowns and 2 interceptions. The interceptions were huge momentum stoppers, as Ryan threw a game-changing pick with 13:36 in the beginning of the third quarter. It resulted in a touchdown for the Eagles that started their 14-0 third quarter. He had some other throws that could have been in Eagles hands when he was pressured throughout the game. Ryan is a great quarterback, he just has to realize that he can live another day instead of forcing throws.
Offensive Play-calls Were Very Conservative in 2nd Half
Credit the Eagles changing their defensive game plan in the second half, but Atlanta shied away from playing aggressive football. Jones only had one catch in the second half, which is baffling as he dominated the first half of the football. Eagles head coach Chip Kelly had a safety shadow Jones, but he was open on several obvious plays. Atlanta has to find a way to keep their best player involved, whether it is a screen, a drag, a slant, or five-yard hitches.
The Grade and Final Verdict:
At the end of the day, a win is a win, especially in the NFL. No win comes easy in this league, and an emotional game like that shows resillance of a team. Many people had the Eagles winning this game, as their new offense was supposed to be “unstoppable”. It looked that way in the second half, but the Falcons defense made the plays necessary to slow them down at the end of the game. The offense looks like it has gained a facet it hasn’t had in a while; a respectable running game. Matt Ryan has had to carry a lot of weight on his shoulders since the departure of Michael Turner, and now he can lean to Tevin Coleman more often than not. Julio Jones is a top player in the NFL, and people saw that Monday Night. The Atlanta Falcons are now 1-0, and they look to build on their success.
Final Grade: A-