Opposition Research: Ledbetter on Atlanta

Courtesy of USA Today Sports.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports.

T-Mac and I like to think we have you covered on everything you need to know about the Eagles. Part of the reason we’re able to do so is because we’re at all of the open practices, talking to the players and watching more film than we’d care to admit.

Although we can research the Falcons, we don’t know Atlanta nearly as well as their beat writers. That’s why we asked D. Orlando Ledbetter, a Falcons beat reporter for The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, some questions about what to expect Monday and the biggest storylines coming out of Atlanta.

What are the Falcons’ strengths and weaknesses?

“Offensively, the Falcons have a great passing attack with quarterback Matt Ryan pulling the trigger and throwing mainly to wide receivers Julio Jones and Roddy White. Jacob Tamme will be used as a pass-catching tight end this season after two down years in Denver. The offensive line is a question mark, which features three new starters in the interior. Mike Person is set to make his first NFL start at center. They traded for Andy Levitre with Tennessee and inserted him at left guard. Rookie running back Tevin Coleman is an unknown quantity behind a makeshift line. Defensively, the Falcons have struggled to rush the passer. Rookie Vic Beasley, the sixth overall pick in the 2015 draft, is expected to lead the revival.”

Does Atlanta have any injured players or guys coming off injuries that could impact the game?

“Returner Devin Hester (toe) has been slowed by turf toe and may not be available. Strong-side linebacker Brooks Reed (groin surgery) will not play. He’ll be replaced in the lineup by O’Brien Schofield. Running back Devonta Freeman is coming back from a hamstring injury. He didn’t play over the exhibition season, but is expected to play in the opener. He’s slated to backup rookie running back Tevin Coleman. Linebacker Joplo Bartu (quadriceps) and free safety Robenson Therezie (undisclosed injury) were working out with the trainers. They are backups and expected to be inactive.”

We’ve seen Dan Quinn lead great defenses in Seattle the last couple of years. What will he try to do in Atlanta to stop Chip Kelly and the Eagles’ offense?

“He’ll try to match their tempo and play simple zone defenses. They’ll allow short passes and then rally to the ball and tackle. They’ll have to keep track of Darren Sproles when he’s in the slot. The Falcons have had trouble stopping the run.”

What match-ups do you think will decide the game?

“I think the Connor Barwin vs. right tackle Ryan Schraeder match could be the game changer. Barwin is coming of his first Pro Bowl season and Schraeder has had problems in the past with speed rushers. Also, Falcons middle linebacker Paul Worrilow will have his hands full with trying to track down DeMarco Murray in the run game.”

Who do you think will win the game and why?

“I picked the Eagles to win because the Falcons have a makeshift line and will not be able to sustain many drives. They will leave the defense on the field too long and the Eagles will eventually exploit them.”