The Eagles are 1-0 after blowing out the Falcons! Time to hand out some winners, losers, and IDKs.
Undefeated. 20-0 is within reach.
Jalen Hurts: franchise quarterback? He just might be if he continues this up!
The Eagles’ second-year signal-caller went 27/35 (77% completion) for 264 yards (7.5 average), three touchdowns, zero interceptions, and a 126.4 passer rating. He also had seven runs for 62 yards. That’s good stuff.
As we said leading up to the game, it’s not like the Falcons have a very formidable defense. And it’s just one game.
But, man, hard not to be encouraged about Hurts’ outlook after this one. Check out this historical context:
And this …
75 percent completion
250 passing yards
60 rushing yards
In NFL history:
Kyler Murray vs. Dolphins [loss] 2020
Ken Anderson vs. Colts [win] 1974@Stathead
— Reuben Frank (@RoobNBCS) September 12, 2021
As reflected by his very high completion percentage, Hurts was mostly accurate. He did a great job of managing the Eagles’ two-minute drill before the end of the first half, using his mobility to avoid pressure and move the chains. He capped that drive off with a bullet while throwing against his body to a diving Dallas Goedert. Such an impressive throw. Re-watching Hurts’ touchdown throw to Jalen Reagor, he stood in and delivered a perfect pass despite being pressure immediately arriving to him.
We’ll break down Hurts’ performance in even more detail at Bleeding Green Nation this week. For now, all the kudos in the world to him for having a great game.
Before we move off him entirely, though, a few critiques: He did have a few off target throws, including a completion to Zach Ertz that should’ve been ruled incomplete with the ball hitting the ground. He also invited pressure by breaking the pocket too early on more than one play. One can hope these are things the 23-year-old can work on.
Pretty great debut for the Eagles’ rookie head coach! The Falcons ultimately had no answers for Sirianni’s play-calling. The team looked ready to play and brought plenty of energy.
My favorite part of Sirianni’s debut, though, was his aggressiveness. The Eagles didn’t convert either of their fourth down attempts but those weren’t bad decisions as much as poor player execution. Hurts broke the pocket and invited pressure from Grady Jarret on the first. Hurts’ hesitation caused a sloppy handoff to prevent the Eagles from picking up a first down on the ground on their second try.
While those tries were unsuccessful, the Eagles did have success when a Falcons penalty on an extra point try allowed Philly to try a two-point conversion from the 1-yard line. Such a no-brainer to go for it in that situation, especially with the opportunity to make it a two possession game. But not all coaches always do the obvious things. Sirianni is embracing the Eagles’ analytics early on.
He’s the truth. Smith caught six of his eight targets for 71 yards. Those six receptions tied the Eagles rookie record for catches in an NFL debut (DeSean Jackson also had six in 2008). There was a point in the game when Hurts completed four straight passes to Smith. That was encouraging to see. Smith can get open and the Eagles shouldn’t be shy to feed him. Legit WR1.
The Eagles’ defense got off to an inauspicious start, allowing the Falcons to drive into goal-to-go territory on two straight drives. But while they bent, they did not break. Gannon’s unit ultimately didn’t allow a touchdown in the game, which is pretty good the last time I checked. Not a bad showing for his first NFL game as a defensive coordinator.
There were times in the game when I considered putting Sanders in the “IDK” section. He unwisely bounced a run to the outside prior to DeVonta’s touchdown that set up a 3rd-and-4 instead of likely picking up a first down if he stayed the course. Sanders left meat on the bone on some other earlier runs and he’s clearly been supplanted as the two-minute back. But Sanders ultimately finished with 15 carries for 74 yards an four receptions for 39 yards. Hard to ding 113 yards of total offense plus a two-point conversion. Sanders also had that key blitz pickup to allow Hurts to find Smith for a first down on a 3rd-and-9. And, hey, no drops!
Nine carries for 37 yards (4.1 average) and one touchdown as a runner. Two receptions for six yards as a pass catcher. Not the most eye-popping numbers you’ll ever see but it was an encouraging debut for the Day 3 rookie running back. Already being trusted as the two-minute back is a big deal.
EAGLES OFFENSIVE LINE
They deserve to be dinged for way too many penalties (especially the pre-snap variety) but, on the whole, the offensive line was a strength. The Eagles allowed one sack and that was on a play where Hurts held on to the ball and got him from behind. Philly’s blockers paved the way for 173 total rushing yards (5.6 average), one rushing touchdown, and one two-point score. Jason Kelce had a highlight play where he blocked multiple defenders. Jordan Mailata, who recently became a multi-millionaire, absolutely obliterated a defender on Reagor’s screen touchdown. This unit could power the Eagles to exceeding expectations in 2021.
Arguably the top performer in Eagles training camp, Hargrave carried over his summer success to Week 1. Hargrave was disruptive throughout the game and the numbers materialized later in the game. He finished with two sacks (both of which forced turnovers on downs), two tackles for loss, and three quarterback hits. Hargrave is on a trajectory to have a career season. His presence was a big reason the Falcons couldn’t get their passing offense to click like they wanted.
Didn’t expect to put Ridgeway on this list after he looked invisible all summer and started this game with two penalties. But he finished with one sack, one tackle for loss, and three quarterback hits. He also forced an intentional grounding call on Matt Ryan that was very close to being a fumble recovered by Hargrave. Good to see not only the Eagles’ defensive tackles succeed but their depth as well.
Siposs averaged 47.3 yards on four punts and three of them were downed within the 10-yard line. Coming off an encouraging preseason, Siposs is establishing himself as the Eagles’ franchise punter.
We sure do blame him when things go wrong for the Eagles, so it’s only right to credit him when things go right. Don’t want to overreact to one game, of course, but the early returns on Sirianni and Hurts are obviously encouraging. Important to nail those big picture pieces. The heavy investment in the trenches paid off today and a number of draft picks played well. A good look for the Eagles’ general manager.
It’s been too long since the Eagles have played such an enjoyable game. The best fans in the world (now who’s pandering?) were overdue for a performance like this. This 26-point margin of victory was the Eagles’ biggest since … their 38-7 win over the Minnesota Vikings in the 2018 NFC Championship Game. Wow.
The postgame crew did a great job in their debut! Check out what Eytan Shander, Jess Taylor, and Raichele Privette had to say after the game.
Not trying to take anything away from the Eagles’ win because they played well. But, boy, I don’t think the Falcons are very good.
EARLY EAGLES RUN DEFENSE
The Birds got gashed on the ground early on. You’ll generally live with that as opposed to repeatedly getting killed through the air. But definitely an area to monitor moving forward. Too many wide lanes for running backs to run through. Too much sloppy tackling.
So, we saw why the Vikings didn’t make re-signing Wilson a priority. The free agent addition missed a number of tackles. He ended up with nine made tackles but there were too many mistakes. And it’s not surprising given how he missed 17 tackles last year. Teams should be looking to run at him.
Maddox whiffed a few times and gave up some catches. Not encouraged about the Eagles’ slot cornerback being a position of strength.
The Eagles entered the game with three healthy safeties on the 53-man roster with Rodney McLeod out. Then Marcus Epps suffered a concussion on the Falcons’ first drive. Not ideal. The Eagles obviously made it through with K’Von Wallace coming in but it’d be ideal to get back McLeod sooner than later. The Eagles might also have to promote Elijah Riley from the practice squad or temporarily elevate him to reinforce this position.
Scott didn’t do anything wrong; this is about him being a loser by omission. He didn’t get a single touch. He’s the third running back behind Sanders and Gainwell.
Same boat as Greg Ward. The Eagles’ former starting slot receiver clearly doesn’t have a role in this offense.
Played way too much for my understanding. The most noteworthy thing I saw him do was fall down when no one else was around him to allow a big run to Mike Davis.
The former Eagles quarterback is 0-1.
They lost to the Chargers and Ryan Fitzpatrick is injured.
They lost on Thursday night.
They lost on Sunday evening.
Watkins saw three targets on Hurts’ first three passes and caught them all for 23 yards … and they didn’t get targeted the rest of the game. Kinda weird. He blew a block on a screen pass to Reagor and didn’t show much juice as a kick returner with two tries for only 40 yards. (I’d like to see Jason Huntley, who’s on the practice squad, returning kicks instead.)
Some might argue Reagor should be in the winner section. Eh. He logged 8.2 yards per reception. His longest catch of the day came on a play where the blocking was set up perfectly for him and he went untouched. To his credit, his speed allowed him to make run no one caught him. Still would like to see more impact, especially before the game is already decided. And Reagor sure didn’t inspire as a punt returner with four returns for just 19 yards.