Fun fact: The Philadelphia Eagles are undefeated since winning the Super Bowl and may never lose again, for all we know.
The sequel to the Eagles vs. the Falcons was almost a carbon copy of the original, all the way down to the last play. The game started off with Brian Dawkins demanding every fan sing the Eagles fight song and being serenaded by Boyz II Men, so anything other than a win would have been just outright unacceptable. This game was looked at to be one of the most difficult ones the Eagles had in their first quarter of the season, but by securing the 18-12 win and with Tampa Bay, Indy, and Tennessee rounding out the first four games, my prediction of 4-0 isn’t looking so bad (*knocks on wood*). Without further adieu though, here are my takeaways from the game.
The Defense is Legit
In our keys to victory article, we highlighted how the Eagles defense must aim for their 2017 mark of allowing only 79 rushing yards per game to make Atlanta’s offense one-dimensional. The defense did just that, letting up only 74 yards on the ground and forcing Atlanta to throw the ball. Jordan Hicks made his return and looked as impressive as ever, leading the team with seven tackles and being credited with 1.5 sacks. With Hicks healthy again and Nigel Bradham set to return next week, the already stacked defensive unit will get another boost.
Another point we made about the defense before the game was their bend but don’t break personality. It was apparent they were willing to give Julio Jones whatever he wanted in the middle of the field – the secondary played well off of him with significant cushion – but made sure he wouldn’t beat them over the top. That strategy paid off for the defense thanks to some nail biting goal line stands (more on that later). Matt Ryan threw for 251 yards with 169 of those going to Jones alone. Overall, the defense looked incredible and came up huge when it mattered most. This first look at the 2018 Eagles defense shows us something they we already knew: they’re one of, if not the, best defenses in the entire NFL and has the capability to literally carry the team to victory.
Sproles is Still Fast
Sproles is back baby, and the Eagles weren’t shy in using him out of the gate. His stats on the box score won’t impress many, but he looked healthy, spry, and dangerous. He totaled nine touches, five carries and four receptions. We should expect him to continue seeing workloads like that throughout the season depending on matchup. It’s good to have #43 back.
Ajayi Outscores His 2017 TD Total
Speaking of Sproles getting in some work early in the game, it surprised me that Ajayi wasn’t being fed in those first couple possessions. Was the foot issue he had leading up to the game more than we thought? Maybe, but any concerns I had were squashed after seeing him score two touchdowns and a two-point conversion. Along with Agholor, Ajayi was one of the most reassuring aspects of the offense. Jay Train had a tough time finding the end zone as an Eagles in 2017, scoring only one touchdown all season (yes, all season), so getting in twice in the opener is a fantastic start to his first full season in Philadelphia.
Foles is Fine
Look, Foles didn’t knock anyone socks off in this game, but he didn’t make any crucial mistakes and we won. You can’t expect him to play like how he did against Minnesota and New England all the time. His stat line isn’t impressive, particularly the 3.4- yard average on his completions, but he never looked as bad as he did against Cleveland in the preseason. Foles was calm, cool, and collected throughout, and oh yea, he caught the ball that Tom Brady dropped.
2 Philly 2 Special
— Philadelphia Eagles (@Eagles) September 7, 2018
Don’t call it a comeback! Philly Philly (not to be mistaken for Philly Special, which is slightly different because one is snapped to Foles and one is snapped directly to Clement) was the spark plug the offense needed and Foles was able to haul it in. That play call injected more adrenaline to the building than when the glass breaks and Stone Cold’s music hits. It’s a good thing that they scored, because they celebrated as if it had been the Super Bowl . It’s like in basketball, a crossover doesn’t count if you don’t hit the jumper. The only difference was in basketball you only have to hold your breathe and wait for like two seconds max and for the Eagles you had to wait ten minutes, maybe.
Opposite side of the end zone, different defensive back, same result. The defense on this stand, because of the situation and considering they gave Atlanta a free 5th down to work with, could be a defining moment for the Eagles season. There’s an alternate Universe where Jones lands with both feet in bounds and the Falcons walk off with an extra point and it really stings the team and they never quite recover and the wheels just fall off before it can even get moving. Thankfully none of that can happen now because our defense is simply ridiculous. It’s poetic that a mirrored version of the win to start our post-season run is how we claim the first victory in the title defense, and with Tampa Bay, Indianapolis, and Tennessee on the horizon, the Birds have a great chance to keep the good times rollin’.