Gilden Events » Falcons vs. Eagles preview: 5 questions

Falcons vs. Eagles preview: 5 questions

in Gilden Events 19.11.2018 08:23
von laiyongcai92 | 173 Beiträge | 1730 Punkte

Week 1 opponent We Youth Matt Ryan Jersey asked Brandon Gowton, the amiable Eagles fan and Bleeding Green Nation manager you all remember from his humble (and as it turns out, happily inaccurate for Philly fans) predictions for the Divisional Round game last year. In between celebrating a Super Bowl victory and gearing up for Thursday night’s game, Gowton was kind enough to share his thoughts on the game ahead with us. Wentz & FolesDave Choate: The status of Carson Wentz seems critical, as good as the Eagles roster is. When do you expect him back, and can Nick Foles keep up his magical recent run in the meantime? I’m not going to be guilty of underestimating him or the Eagles again. Brandon Gowton: To be honest, I expected Carson Wentz to play Week 1. Reports from as far back as January indicated the Eagles thought he’d have a chance to play in the season opener. I saw no reason not to believe this reporting after watching all of his practices throughout the spring and summer. I think the Eagles are just legitimately being extra careful with him, which I can’t fault them for. I tend to think we might see Wentz back in Week 3 since Peter King recently threw that date out there. But who knows for sure at this point.Can Nick Foles keep up his magical run? I do think he’s capable of doing so, yes. But I also think it’s entirely possible he doesn’t play well. Foles stunk it up in the preseason this year by going 16 of 26 for 171 yards, zero touchdowns, two interceptions, and a 48.7 passer rating (not to mention two fumbles lost). In fairness to the reigning Super Bowl MVP, he didn’t have a strong supporting cast considering a number of offensive starters weren’t playing. And it’s not like Doug Pederson was heavily game-planning the preseason. The reality is that Foles is just a high variance player. Foles has 18 starts with a passer rating over 100. He has 16 starts with a passer rating below 80. Only eight of his starts have fallen between that range. Eagles fans will hope to see Good Foles (and not Bad Foles) show up on Thursday night.Personally, Foles seems always seems to play his best when I doubt him, so maybe I should continue to keep that strategy going and try to motivate him. :) Ajayi Youth Keanu Neal Jersey , Clement & SprolesDave Choate: There’s quite a bit of talent at the running back position, but I’m curious as to how you think snaps are going to shake out. Will Ajayi dominate touches or will Clement be heavily involved in the passing game?Brandon Gowton: I do think Ajayi will take a bulk of the Eagles’ carries. He’s going to be a free agent after this season and it doesn’t seem likely the Eagles will be retain him due to their cap situation. So why not ride him hard this year? Ajayi did average 5.8 yards per carry with the Eagles in the regular season last year. He has the potential to be very effective behind an offensive line that returns all five starters from last year. I will add that I don’t think Ajayi will dominate all the running back touches. Darren Sproles and Corey Clement are better options as third down backs. I think Clement could especially play a factor in the red zone. Those guys are going to get mixed into the game plan. They can also spell Ajayi when necessary. Jordan MailataDave Choate: So we’ve all heard about Jordan Mailata at this point, and it’s a hell of a story. What’s his upside, and is there any chance we’ll see him during this first game with the injuries Philly’s dealing with?Brandon Gowton: It’s really incredible that a dude who hadn’t even played a football game in his entire life until last month made the Eagles’ 53-man roster. And really, he earned his spot on the team. Former NFL offensive linemen have been absolutely raving about this 21-year-old mammoth who measures in at 6-8, 350 pounds. Brian Baldinger said “he’s taken a thousand light years of steps in four months.” Ross Tucker said Mailata is going to be an All-Pro. Football scout/writer Tommy Lawlor said Mailata already reminds him of sure-fire future Hall of Famer Jason Peters. The feeling here is that Mailata still has a long way to go before he’s ever going to see meaningful playing time, but his progress has been nothing short of remarkable. Mailata is likely to be inactive on game day for the entire season. He still has a lot to learn and the Eagles have a number of players who are ahead of him at tackle on their depth chart. The hope is he can continue to learn and eventually be Peters’ replacement. Peters turns 37 in January. What the Falcons should attackDave Choate: Defensively, what should the Falcons be looking to attack? Atlanta had virtually no luck on offense against Philadelphia less than a year ago, so I’m wondering what has changed. Brandon Gowton: If I’m the Falcons, I’m looking to see if I can get Tevin Coleman going. He had 10 carries for 79 yards (plus one reception for 14) against the Eagles earlier this year. Compare that to Devonta Freeman’s 10 carries for seven yards. If I recall correctly, he had some success on runs to the outside. The Eagles will be without starting linebacker Nigel Bradham so they could look to test the likes of new starting linebackers Kamu Grugier-Hill and Nathan Gerry.I’d also be looking to test the Eagles in the slot. The Eagles’ starting cornerbacks (Jalen Mills and Ronald Darby) have had very good offseasons but 2017 second-round pick Sidney Jones is new to playing the slot. He had some good moments this summer but this is also going to be his first real season and I think he could be prone to making some mistakes. If I’m the Falcons, I’m looking to mix Calvin Ridley and Julio Jones in the slot to test Jones. Dave Choate: A classic: How do you expect this game to turn out, and what are your expectations for the season? Can this Eagles team repeat as Super Bowl champions, and will they? Brandon Gowton: I genuinely can’t believe the season is here already. I feel like I was just in Minnesota watching the Eagles beat the Patriots in the Super Bowl. I almost don’t even feel ready to turn the page on last year. But alas, I must. I don’t think I have a great feel for this game yet. I don’t feel ready to pick against the Super Bowl champs just yet. But the Eagles do have a number of players coming off injury and I could see them having somewhat of a physical hangover. I just can’t help but wonder if the Falcons are going to come in pissed off and really want this game more than the Eagles want it. Then again Youth Julio Jones Jersey , the Eagles are 15-3 at home in the Doug Pederson era, and one of those losses was when the starters didn’t play in Week 17 last year. Philadelphia still has a lot of talent on their roster even though they’ll be missing Wentz, Alshon Jeffery, and Timmy Jernigan. I’ll be boring and say this is another game that comes down to the wire. I’ll take the Eagles to win in a close one, 28 to 27. As far as my season expectations go, I think this is still a double-digit win team. This team might be due for a slow start but I think they’ll start to hit their stride eventually. I just believe in Carson Wentz’s ability and Doug Pederson’s coaching too much to think otherwise. This Eagles team CAN repeat as Super Bowl champions. I mean, they won it all last year despite not even having the likes of Wentz, Peters, Sproles, Jordan Hicks, and Chris Maragos suit up for them in the big game. They may be uniquely qualified to do something that’s only been accomplished once before in the salary cap era.But it certainly won’t be easy. The NFL is just such a year-to-year league. Heck, there hasn’t even been a repeat NFC East champion since 2004. We know this Eagles team has a high ceiling. It’s just a matter of if they can reach their potential.Defensive fears come true as Falcons waste an exceptional offensive performance It takes something extraordinary to overshadow two franchise records being made (or tied) in the same game. Matt Ryan’s sensational five-touchdown performance silenced any talk of his diminishing arm strength. After scoring his first NFL touchdown last week, Calvin Ridley shredded New Orleans’ secondary on his way to a hat trick. It was a complete offensive assault that featured almost every skill position player. If someone didn’t score a touchdown, they were on the receiving end of a two-point conversion or big play. Steve Sarkisian helped orchestrate another tremendous performance against a divisional rival for the second consecutive week.To score 37 points should have been enough for the Falcons to overcome their defensive deficiencies. That wasn’t the case, as the loss of four key players (which became five in overtime) proved to be too overwhelming. It wasn’t surprising to see Drew Brees face little pressure against a defensive line lacking in depth and talent. Points were bound to be scored in bunches. How they were scored will have the coaching staff livid. A collection of missed tackles and coverage breakdowns added to their misery in a brutal defeat. It leaves the Falcons searching for immediate solutions within their diminishing defense. Bending and breakingBefore Dan Quinn arrived in 2015 , the Falcons had countless appalling showings against Brees. The future Hall Of Famer torched them on a yearly basis with his wide variety of playmakers. From not generating pressure to blowing coverage assignments, they couldn’t stop Brees from doing whatever he wanted across the field. There was a feeling of hopelessness when watching Brian Van Gorder or Mike Nolan try to concoct a game plan to slow down Sean Payton’s lethal offense. For the first time under Quinn and Marquand Manuel, a once familiar feeling in the Georgia Dome resurfaced in the Mercedes-Benz Stadium.The Saints gained 534 total yards. Regardless of how many starters are missing, it’s unacceptable for a defense to allow that many yards. Brees was rarely harassed in the pocket. Other than a flash of pressure from Vic Beasley, the Falcons’ pass rush looked utterly powerless. The bizarre decision to use more three-man rushes only made things more difficult. Attempting to stop an offense from scoring by having as many players as possible in coverage isn’t sustainable against an elite quarterback. They eventually paid the price on Brees’ touchdown pass to Cameron Meredith. The sight of Grady Jarrett wandering around in the middle of the field as Brees stepped up in the pocket will be engrained in the minds of the entire fanbase.Although people will raise questions about what the Falcons were doing schematically, they were even worse fundamentally. Some of the tackling on display was particularly atrocious. What made things more surprising was that the usual culprits weren’t responsible. Duke Riley showed signs of improvement in his second game at middle linebacker. It was the secondary that were responsible for most of the missed tackles. Robert Alford and Desmond Trufant paid the price for taking poor angles on multiple occasions. Ricardo Allen and Vic Beasley missed tackles on read option plays that resulted in big third conversions. Brian Poole had his fair share of blunders, which includes being on the receiving end of Brees’ ridiculous spin move. To whiff that badly against a quarterback 14 years older and not known for being elusive will be tough to digest for the normally reliable nickel corner.With the defense missing key players at nearly every level, the cornerback group needed to step up. They failed to do so in getting torn to pieces by Michael Thomas and company. On 49 pass attempts; Poole was the only player to break up a pass. That is a troubling stat for a secondary that takes pride in being around the ball. Not finishing plays and taking poor angles in pursuit is what will ultimately anger the secondary when assessing their mistakes. Similar to Thomas, Alvin Kamara was going to get his production off sheer volume. How many yards both players gained after contact will be maddening for the entire defense. It correlated with the Saints averaging nearly seven yards per play and being successful on third down (7 for 14).The birth of a game-breakerThis loss is a prime example of how a headline can change in a heartbeat. If the Falcons had prevailed, Calvin Ridley’s face would be plastered at the start of every game recap. The rookie wide receiver will have to settle for having a section dedicated to him in every post-game review column. Based on how leaky New Orleans’ secondary was against Tampa Bay and Cleveland, it felt like a great opportunity for Ridley to make an even bigger mark following his impressive performance against Carolina. He went above and beyond in putting on an electrifying show.Ridley seemed to have the upper hand on P.J. Williams from the first drive. His slick stutter steps and terrific footwork gave the inconsistent cornerback fits during the entire first half. Look no further than his first touchdown, as the first round pick left Williams stumbling forward on a stutter-go. There were high expectations for Ridley coming into an offense with an offensive coordinator he previously worked with. Nobody anticipated him playing an integral part in the red zone offense’s resurgence, let alone change the entire offense’s outlook.When Ridley wasn’t creating separation or working his way back in the end zone to score his third impressive touchdown, he was stretching Dennis Allen’s disorganized defense. The Falcons desperately needed an explosive wide receiver to take the load off Julio Jones. Drafting Ridley is proving to the perfect solution in regaining their status as one of the most feared offenses in the league. He torched Williams once again for a 75-yard-touchdown, which led to Williams being benched for Ken Crawley. Ridley also drew a pass interference on Crawley three drives later that translated into a 45-yard gain. Although Sarkisian put him in excellent positions to succeed , all of Ridley’s touchdowns came from individual excellence. There was nothing overly schematic about any of his touchdowns. For the Falcons to add a player capable of terrorizing an opposing cornerback at any time, alongside Jones and Mohamed Sanu, is massive because it’s clear this offense will need to start averaging close to 30 points per game.Situational stumbleIt’s practically impossible to criticize the offense for yesterday’s defeat. How they were able to drive down the field without any semblance of a running game at will was remarkable. Ryan never looked phased when needing to take command of the offense. As New Orleans started dialing up more blitzes, the former MVP kept his composure and made the right reads to keep the offense moving. His rapport with Sarkisian appears to be finally on the right track. For all their success, they will be kicking themselves for not staying aggressive.Following Ridley’s 75-yard touchdown, the Falcons got the ball with a little over 90 seconds left in the first half. Sarkisian called a draw for Tevin Coleman to pick up eight yards on first down. It put them in a favorable second down situation, which should have allowed them to start picking up the pace. The offense never showed any urgency, despite having two timeouts remaining. Sarkisian opts for another draw that Sheldon Rankins ate up for a three-yard loss. New Orleans blitzes on third down to force Ryan into an inaccurate throw. What could have been a 17-13 lead going into halftime turns into a 16-14 deficit. A high-powered offense should always look to score at any opportunity, especially when facing an offensive juggernaut. Quinn will be help culpable as well for not being more attack-minded. It was a costly blunder in a game that was always going to decided by a few plays. You can’t take any chance for granted against a team like New Orleans. The Falcons learned the hard way in a game that shouldn’t have went to overtime.Looking AheadAfter narrowly beating Chicago and Detroit to start off 3-0 in 2017, the Falcons haven’t had the same fortunate in starting 1-2. Falling on the wrong end of games decided by a few plays has been a problem so far this season. Those circumstances aren’t going away anytime soon with Cincinnati awaiting them. It’s clear the pressure is on the Falcons to outscore every opponent. As injuries continue to mount, it’s becoming increasingly harder for the defense to hold opposing offenses below 24 points. Potentially not having Ricardo Allen going forward will only make a dire situation even worse. It will be on Quinn and the front office to decide if they need to look elsewhere to salvage an injury-plagued defense. Based on the last two games, the current crop of players have failed to hold their own against playoff-caliber teams.

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