An average Eagles team exposed the Falcons in Week 1 in nearly every part of the game. Philadelphia’s defensive line dominated Atlanta’s young offensive line, and the Falcons defensive line was bullied by Jason Kelce and the rest of the Eagles offensive line. Being dominated in the trenches is not a conducive way to win in this league.
I attribute winning in the NFL to a few things: creating/limiting explosive plays, protecting/pressuring the quarterback, limiting/forcing turnovers, and committing fewer penalties than your opponent. The Eagles had four 20+ yard plays while holding the Falcons to no explosive plays; Matt Ryan only attempted one pass that traveled 20 yards or more through the air. Philadelphia notably dominated in the trenches; they were able to pressure Matt Ryan and protect Jalen Hurts all afternoon long. Finally, the Falcons committed 12 penalties… None of that is winning football.
It isn’t just about the lack of execution, though. It is more than that. Atlanta’s personnel is inadequate right now. Terry Fontenot and Arthur Smith can preach about how they want to compete this season all they want, but the proof is in the pudding. An average, at best, Eagles team handled the Falcons in Week 1, which doesn’t bode well for the notion that the team is ready to compete.
Still, there weren’t many realistic individuals covering the Falcons who believed this was a playoff-caliber team. There were always those delusional fans that cover the team who liked to be optimistic, which is certainly their prerogative, but the fact remains this roster is top-heavy. So, where is the roster the most talent deficient?
We have to begin along the offensive line, specifically the horrible interior offensive line. Matt Hennessy and Jalen Mayfield are young players, who could develop into quality starters, but if we take anything away from Week 1, it is that those two are far from complete products. For a quarterback like Matt Ryan, a stout interior offensive line is paramount. Ryan isn’t a mobile quarterback who can escape the pocket outside the tackles; he is elusive in the pocket by stepping up into it, which isn’t possible when your left guard and center are pushed five yards into the backfield on every pass play.
Moving to the other side of the trenches, the Falcons still don’t have a pass rush — shocker. Obviously, the Falcons aren’t going to pressure the quarterback with backups starting along the defensive line. Dean Pees was heralded for his ability to scheme pressure but we didn’t see any of that in Week 1. The interior pass rush is as non-existent as the edge rush. Even Grady Jarrett looked bad. If your best player isn’t generating a push, the rest certainly aren’t.
There are plenty of other areas on the team that could use improving like a playmaker opposite Calvin Ridley, but the most notable roster deficicnes can be found along the offensive and defensive front.