Eagles Wake-Up Call: Leftovers From Atlanta

Billy Davis takes responsibility for key play against his defense.

Photo by: Jeff Fusco.

Photo by: Jeff Fusco.

From Chris Maragos‘ playing time to Billy Davis‘ mea culpa, here are three leftovers from the Eagles’ game against the Falcons:

1) A pivotal moment in Monday’s loss came late in the third quarter. With Atlanta nursing a three-point lead and facing a 3rd-and-15 from its own seven-yard line, Kyle Shanahan dialed up a draw that hit the jackpot. Tevin Coleman raced 20 yards to give the Falcons a fresh set of downs, extending a drive that eventually resulted in a 44-yard Matt Bryant field goal that put the home team up 23-17.

Afterwards, defensive coordinator Billy Davis took responsibility.

“Made a call that didn’t have enough numbers in there to get the draw,” said Davis.

Here’s the look pre-snap:
draw play falcons

Kiko Alonso backpedals out of the box to account for Jacob Tamme in coverage. Connor Barwin and Fletcher Cox, meanwhile, stunt out of their gaps, leaving a giant hole in the middle.

draw gif ATL

“They did a screen before so I didn’t think a screen was coming. Could have had more guys down in the front, [could have] run a better stunt,” said Davis. “I had the right coverage for what they had been doing and helping on Julio [Jones], but the draw part I could have had a better call [up front].”

2) Chris Maragos only played 17 defensive snaps in 2014. He was on the field for 36 plays on Monday night alone.

Davis opted to slide Malcolm Jenkins (and occasionally Walter Thurmond) into the slot in nickel situations against Atlanta. Maragos rotated in as the deep safety in those instances. He ended up playing 47 percent of the snaps.

“Both [Jenkins and Thurmond] have corner backgrounds, have been nickels and they have the most experience at playing nickel,” said Chip Kelly, explaining the personnel decision. “Those are the two best guys.”

“We thought Chris played well when he was in there.”

Jenkins appeared to perform well as the nickel, so it wouldn’t be a big surprise if we saw this look again. The question is whether the team is playing with fire by giving Maragos an expanded role. Since entering the league in 2010, the most defensive plays he’s had in a single season was 53 (in 2013). At this rate, he’ll eclipse that number by Week 2.

Nolan Carroll indicated that he might see some time at nickel heading into Monday’s game, which would have left E.J. Biggers or Eric Rowe to man the outside. That never came to pass. Biggers played one snap on defense against Atlanta while Rowe only saw time on special teams. Count me as part of the group that thinks flipping Rowe to safety makes good sense, especially if a third safety is going to be featured this much all season.

3) The numbers are in on Byron Maxwell, and as you might imagine, they’re not pretty. According to Pro Football Focus, he was targeted 10 times against Atlanta. Nine of those targets resulted in a completion for a total of 154 yards (17.1 average). Matt Ryan had a 152.1 quarterback rating while throwing in his direction.

“Just inconsistencies in techniques,” said Kelly when asked what he saw out of the highly-paid corner.  “I think Byron would be the first one to tell you that.  When he was locked up in technique, he did a really good job.  When he got beat, you can look at where he was from a technical standpoint and that’s where he got beat.”

“Obviously I didn’t play up to my standards,” said Maxwell. “But we can’t [dwell] on it. We’ve got to move on. Game’s over.”

WHAT YOU MISSED

“You got to clean up the things that we can control.” Takeaways from Kelly’s press conference Tuesday.

In-depth day-after notes, on defensive breakdowns, the failed third-and-one and more.

“Teams will make us throw the ball to win games.” Will opposing defenses copy Atlanta’s winning game plan?

WHAT THEY’RE SAYING

The Philadelphia Inquirer‘s Jeff McLane discusses what we learned from Monday night’s game, including what to make of Sam Bradford‘s debut.

You have to consider the full meal, and Bradford wasn’t sharp in the first half. He missed an open Miles Austin, telegraphed a throw to Jordan Matthews and tossed an ill-timed interception off his back foot. He was rusty. But wasn’t that to be expected after a 600-something-day layoff? Preseason speed isn’t regular season speed. But Bradford played very well in the second half, completing 21 of 25 passes for 219 yards and a touchdown.

The last interception wasn’t a great throw, but it hit Matthews in the hands and deflected to a Falcon. Bradford took a number of hits and kept getting back up. He wasn’t sacked once, and did a fine job getting the ball out quick, taking what the Falcons defense gave the Eagles underneath. Maybe he could have tried to go long once or twice early to keep the Atlanta secondary honest. But he also didn’t need to force deep throws because receivers were runnindg free in the 5-20-yard range.

Some more perspective and analysis on Atlanta’s aerial attack in the season opener, from CSN Philly’s Corey Seidman.

The Eagles were the first team in the Falcons’ last 40 games to allow both Jones and White 75-plus receiving yards. Granted, both of them haven’t been on the field at the same time in all of those games, but it just shows that teams usually have an answer for at least one of them. On Monday, Jones and White combined for 13 catches and 225 yards. That’s more than 17 yards per catch. You won’t win too many games allowing that many X-plays.

“We just gotta go back and focus on the eyes and technique,” Maxwell said. “That’s really what it comes down to. Get it simple. Do the simple things. Remain disciplined.”

COMING UP

Quick turnaround, as Dallas week is underway. Kelly addresses the media at 10:50 before practice.

Adam Hermann contributed to this post.