Eagles-Falcons Instant Observations
The Eagles beat the Falcons, 24-15. Here’s what we saw as the Birds remain undefeated at the Linc:
*Doug Pederson did a nice job of play-calling in the first half by establishing the run and giving Carson Wentz easy throws to make. Pederson used Bryce Treggs as a diversion on two 20-yard completions, once on a fake end around — which turned into a screen pass on the opposite side of the field to Ryan Mathews — and later on a route concept which freed up Jordan Matthews heading back toward the sideline. Pederson also used the surprise hurry-up in the red zone, forcing the Falcons to burn an early timeout.
*After carrying the ball just twice in the previous two games for a combined 25 yards, Ryan Mathews ran 19 times for a season-high 108 yards, averaging 5.7 yards per carry. He also ran for two touchdowns, which is just the second time he’s done so since 2011. Wendell Smallwood added 13 carries for 70 yards as the Eagles totaled 207 rushing yards on 38 rushes.
*The Eagles’ offensive line played very well, and they deserve a lot of credit for the team’s success on the ground. The interior offensive line stepped up as Jason Kelce played one of his best games of the season, and Stefen Wisniewski continued his reliable play in place of the injured Allen Barbre.
*Wentz didn’t make many big throws, but he did what he needed to do through the air. He completed his first eight passes for 95 yards and a 116.1 passer rating, and he finished the game by completing 25 of his 36 pass attempts for 231 yards and a 86.7 passer rating. Wentz showed his touch on the 20-yard third-down completion to Matthews, his arm strength on multiple out routes from the opposite hash and his accuracy on several more throws. However, Wentz’s numbers were hurt by several drops from his targets, including Matthews, Nelson Agholor and Darren Sproles.
*Wentz’s fumble around midfield and Caleb Sturgis’ 44-yard missed field goal led to the Eagles scoring just seven first-half points, even though they moved the ball pretty well. Matthews’ late drop with 15 seconds left in the first half cost the Birds a potential field goal before time ran out.
*After allowing 21 first-half points in three of their previous five games, the Eagles’ defense stepped up against the Falcons. Jim Schwartz’s unit allowed just 15 points — a season-low for Atlanta — and they did a fantastic job on third down. Atlanta converted just two of 11 third-down attempts, and they failed to convert their only fourth-down attempt.
*Malcolm Jenkins led the Eagles with eight tackles — including one tackle-for-loss — and he did a nice job in coverage. He made a few tackles on third down right in front of the first-down line, coming up big for the Birds time after time. His tackling is sometimes an underrated part of his game.
*The Eagles’ defensive ends played very well in the first half, as Brandon Graham consistently generated pressure off of the edge — picking up one sack and one quarterback hit — and Connor Barwin recorded a pair of tackles-for-loss and a quarterback hit. Fletcher Cox’s interior pressure also made a difference, even though he recorded just one tackle in the first half.
*Rookie Jalen Mills started at cornerback opposite of Nolan Carroll at the last minute, and even though no official announcement was made, it’s likely because of Leodis McKelvin’s hamstring injury. Mills gave up several receptions to Julio Jones, who caught 10 passes for 135 yards, but he didn’t allow Jones to reach the end zone. Jones had a very similar game to Antonio Brown’s performance against the Birds in Week 3, as both accumulated a lot of yards (135 vs. 140) while never scoring a touchdown or making a back-breaking play.
*McKelvin, however, did give up a big play after he replaced Carroll, who left the game near the end of the second quarter with a concussion. McKelvin was beaten badly by Taylor Gabriel on a double-move, and Gabriel took the ball 76 yards for the Falcons’ only touchdown of the game.
Leodis McKelvin biting on the double move on Taylor Gabriel's 76-yard touchdown catch. pic.twitter.com/zonTw8gCDE
— Josh Paunil (@JoshPaunil) November 13, 2016