Week 1 Game Recap: Philadelphia Eagles 10, Atlanta Falcons 14
What you need to know
LB Jeremiah Trotter was ejected before the game after scuffling with DB Kevin Mathis. Each player was reported to have thrown punches and grabbed facemasks after squaring off at midfield and verbally challenging each other. Shortly after this incident groups of players from each team gathered at midfield for more jawing and what appeared to be a mosh-pit style dance off. Emotions were running at a fevered pitch before kickoff.
QB Donovan McNabb took a big hit to the sternum in the first quarter and it may have affected the rest of his game. He was shown attempting to stretch it out on the sidelines in obvious discomfort. McNabb was uncharacteristically off target throwing many balls short. He was under a heavy rush for most of the game and took several more big hits.
WR Terrell Owens and QB Donovan McNabb appear to have put their differences well behind them and played like professionals. McNabb targeted Owens on 19 pass plays during the game.
QB Michael Vick struggled with his passing accuracy, but more than made up for it with his legs yet again. The Falcons ran specific running plays designed to get Vick to the outside with RB Warrick Dunn leading the way as a blocker. These were particularly effective.
TE Alge Crumpler remains Vick’s number one receiving option (11 targets), but Michael Jenkins appears to be the number one deep option in the Falcon’s passing game. Jenkins led the Falcon wide outs with 4 targets.
RB Warrick Dunn looked quick and accelerated well into holes. RB TJ Duckett looked sluggish and hesitant hitting holes. However, Duckett received all short yardage and goal line carries including a one yard TD in the first quarter and a five yard TD in the fourth quarter that was nullified by penalty.
What you ought to know
|QB Donovan McNabb, Pass: 24 - 45 - 257 - 1 TD / 1 INT, Rush: 1 - 0 - 0|
McNabb took a monster hit to the chest from DT Chad Lavalais in the first quarter. McNabb let fly with a deep ball to WR Terrell Owens on the play, but the pressure forced him to come up a bit short and the pass was intercepted by CB DeAngelo Hall. McNabb had a difficult time getting off the ground and was attended to by trainers immediately on the sidelines. He’ll have further examination of the ribs but all reports now are that he’ll play week 2. It was difficult to ascertain how much the injury affected his passing accuracy and might explain his reluctance to leaving the pocket and scramble up field for yards. McNabb’s lone passing TD was on a quick out to RB Brian Westbrook in the flat. McNabb was credited for two fumbles in the game. The first was on a screen play that was a lateral to RB Brian Westbrook. It was a terrible decision to even throw the pass as it was well covered. The other came on a three-step drop where McNabb held the ball far too long allowing DE Patrick Kearney to come clean off the end and hit him from the blind side. Also of note, McNabb was 0 for five in the first half in converting third down opportunities.
The rookie in his first start really looked the part as an NFL quarterback. He was confident in the pocket as he only took two sacks throughout the game. From a passing standpoint, Wentz connected with Jordan Matthews on a beautifully thrown fade route in the back of the end zone to start the game off. Wentz later added to his touchdown mark by hitting Nelson Agholor in stride on a go route for a 35-yard touchdown. One of the turning points of the game was a 4th and 4 with seven minutes left to go in the third quarter when Wentz stood in the pocket taking a big hit while still connecting with Zach Ertz on a quick slant for the first down. Wentz showed complete control of the offense this week.
The Eagles had a tough time getting Westbrook on track. He had accounted for 0 total yards at the end of the first quarter rushing and receiving. However, Westbrook did draw a pass interference call on LB Keith Brooking as they were matched up one on one. Westbrook also scored his touchdown in the left flat off a short pass in the same situation. Other than two long runs in the game (17 and 23 yards) Westbrook was shut down, but didn’t have much room to run. He was hit in the backfield on several carries. Westbrook was targeted many times in the red zone as the Eagles worked to get him matched up with linebackers. As it was last season, Westbrook did the bulk of his damage as a receiving threat.
The Eagle’s fullback caught his only target on a third and long play. Parry was the outlet after McNabb had checked down through his progression.
What the box score doesn't say about Ryan Mathews is how penalties got in the way of his evening. He was the focus of a few big screen passes that ended up being called back thanks to holding by one of his teammates. The box score also doesn't describe how he invites defenders to hit him, and then pushes them back, just as he did on his one touchdown run of the night. He did have a key drop in the first half that could have resulted in a long play - maybe even a score. But he recovered and made the most of the snaps he was limited to.
On his first action of the game he was stuffed at the line of scrimmage for a run of no gain. He later had a screen pass that he picked up a few yards on. Sproles had back to back touches with a -1 yard run and then a quick 5 yard reception that was well short on a 3rd and 11 and did very little to help the Eagles pick up the first down. Sproles had an 8 yard reception and then followed that up with a burst up the middle on a 4th and 1 that he raced straight forward for a 49 yard touchdown. On the next Jaguars punt Sproles fielded the ball and made some nice moves on the left side of the field and set the Eagles up nicely with a 22 yard punt return and gave the Eagles possession at the Jaguars 40 yard line. On the very next Jaguars punt, Sproles once again had a big 22 yard punt return and his two big special teams plays to go along with his electric run up the middle for a touchdown really turned the game around in the Eagles favor. He showed what he can add to this team with his game changing ability every time he touches the ball. Sproles used his quickness on back to back runs of 10 and 5 yards and went right up the middle.
Owens and McNabb left little doubt as to who the number one receiving option is for the Eagles. Owens started slowly catching only two of his first six targets. Things improved during the middle of the game when he pulled in five out of seven targets as he and McNabb appeared to be in more of a groove. However, during the fourth quarter as the Eagles attempted to come from behind, McNabb and Owens failed to connect on their last six targets. McNabb’s lone interception was on an under thrown deep ball towards Owens. CB DeAngelo Hall made a much better adjustment to the ball and picked it off. Owens also had one obvious drop on an out route that him square in the hands. Owens and McNabb were shown warming up together before the game and appeared to be communicating at the very least on a professional level.
Lewis started opposite WR Terrell Owens. His seven yard reception on third and three during the Eagles final drive was a nice reception. He was hit immediately as he caught the ball but hung on to keep the drive alive.
Brown was the Eagles’ third receiver, but didn’t see much action. His lone reception came on a second and ten play late in the game. Brown did catch another pass, but it was called back due to an offensive penalty.
The box score isn't necessarily hiding anything about Nelson Agholor's performance. He and Bradford had communication problems - common of two players that aren't familiar with each other. Add the fact that Bradford didn't have time to progress past his check-downs and it's understandable why no receiver outside of Matthews did anything of note. It will take at least a half of the season for these Agholor to see primary attention.
Had a quick reception to start the game with a 6 yard gain, and then had another quick 8 yard strike late in the first quarter as his only 2 catches on the game. He was targeted 6 times total but only happened to reel in 2 short grabs.
His first target he was over thrown by Foles as he found a way to get himself open over the middle. Matthews first catch of his career was a nice grab that he went up for and then raced down the middle for a 30 yard gain. Matthews had another key play as he made a 7 yard grab next to the sideline and made sure to pick up enough yards to grab the first down.
During the pre-game color commentator John Madden discussed a conversation with head coach Andy Reid. Reid described his playbook as having WR Terrell Owens as the player with the most dedicated plays. RB Brian Westbrook was second, and Smith was third on his list. Smith was used sparingly in this game, but was the only Philadelphia tight end to be targeted.
Came into the game during the fourth quarter when the other starters left. He had a good rapport with Kolb and caught two medium range balls for a total of 15 yards.
Vick threw him a nice pass over the middle that would have been a nice gain, but Ertz dropped it as he showed a lack of concentration. Vick then went back to him again on 3rd down and as Ertz rolled over to make the catch the ball hit the ground. The opportunities were there early for the rookie but he could not secure the ball. He did make an 11 yard grab later in the quarter that helped the Eagles pick up a first down as he made sure he made the catch by bringing it in to his body.
Akers missed a pair of 49 yard field goal attempts in the game. Both were just barely wide right. He recovered hitting a 44 yard attempt late in the game.
Philadelphia did a nice job of bottling up RB TJ Duckett in the middle of the field, but was torched by RB Warrick Dunn. Dunn was especially effective running off right tackle. DE Jevon Kearse was pushed around and ineffective at the point of attack on several plays run directly at him. LB Mike Labinjo filled in for the ejected Jeremiah Trotter. Labinjo recorded three tackles in the game including catching RB Warrick Dunn for a two yard loss in the backfield.
The Eagles front seven weren’t able to bring adequate pressure on QB Michael Vick by themselves, but DBs Michael Lewis and Brian Dawkins combined for three sacks and forced two Vick fumbles coming on blitzes. Dawkins returned to the locker room during the third quarter to receive an IV because of dehydration. Upon his return he knocked away a potential touchdown and followed it up with his fumble causing sack on back to back plays.
|QB Michael Vick, Pass: 12 - 23 - 156 - 0 TD / 1 INT, Rush: 11 - 68 - 1|
Vick displayed a bit of Jekyll and Hyde with his passing in the game. He overthrew several passes during the game that had no possibility of being completed. However, he stood very tall in the pocket and threw a picture perfect 58 yard strike to WR Michael Jenkins in the first quarter between double coverage. Vick was uncharacteristically more effective in the pocket than he was on rollouts, but was used very effectively on designed running plays that were basically sweeps with RB Warrick Dunn as his lead blocker around the outside. One of these sweeps resulted in a touchdown that Vick could have walked into the end zone. On a negative note Vick was personally responsible for three turnovers (one interception and two fumbles).
The Boston College rookie made one of the more memorable debuts in NFL history when his first pass attempt resulted in a 62 yard touchdown. He was only called on the throw 13 passes in the game, but he made the most of his opportunities, completing nine for 161 yards, one touchdown, and a QB rating of 137.0.
While Detroit did not present much of a challenge, Ryan was quietly efficient and seemed to settle into his role. As long as the running game stays strong he won’t need to put up big numbers, but he looked to be capable of hitting receivers whenever he wanted.
|RB Warrick Dunn, Rush: 21 - 117 - 0, Rec: 1 - 0 - 0 (1 targets)|
Dunn was very effective running off right tackle early in the game. Other than one carry where he got caught in the backfield, his shortest gain was four yards before halftime. Dunn successfully used the Falcon’s zone blocking scheme and cut into holes well. He was decisive and explosive when he cut up field. His lone target was on a screen that was sniffed out well by the defense.
Duckett entered the game when the Falcons were inside the 10-yard line on two separate occasions. The Falcons were intent on feeding the ball to Duckett. His one yard touchdown was a great example of “power” football behind his right guard. Duckett also had a similar five yard touchdown run called back due to a holding penalty. However, Duckett was largely ineffective on most of his other carries being slammed into the center of the line. He hesitated on several plays when there was nowhere to run.
Griffith did not do much offensively with his stats but provided numerous key blocks at the point of attack which freed Dunn and Norwood for several big runs. On his only carry of the day, he fumbled after a three yard gain but fortunately the potential turnover was recovered by Atlanta.
It was a good debut for Coleman, who alternated series with Devonta Freeman. Coleman showcased his speed and intensity at the point of contact in the outside zone scheme. Early on, Coleman earned good blocks to seal the edge so he could have a long enough runway to get up to speed and finish strong. What he did in this game that wasn’t notable in his college film—and often critiqued—was make some decent changes of direction against backfield penetration. He didn’t earn large gains from the three attempts where the defense altered these plays, but on two of them he earned positive yards. He had a couple of runs that he bounced outside too early, but most of his 20 carries were well-timed with his line and well-blocked. The two valid criticisms Coleman earned in this game were a difficulty staying upright after a hard cut to avoid a defender near the line of scrimmage. He repeatedly had to dive for yardage rather than keep his feet and this often limited Coleman to gains of 1-3 yards rather than 3-5 yards. If he can somehow fix this issue, he could become a much more efficient player. Pass protection also needs more work. Atlanta routinely subbed Teron Ward for Coleman on passing downs during the series where Coleman was in the game. He whiffed on a corner blitz that resulted in a sack in the second half. His best run was a 20-yard gain on a third-down draw against five defenders in the box in the third quarter. His toughest run was a 14-yard gain off left guard where he had a long enough runway to get downhill with speed, run through a defensive lineman’s wrap and continue untouched until he bounced off a hit about 5-7 yards downfield. A holding call nullified the play.
Freeman only earned two carries and his first came in the third quarter, a five-yard gain where he displayed burst and pad level. He also earned a huge hole off right guard later it the game for 10. Freeman also caught a circle route for a gain of four on 2nd and long and a second catch for 13 yards on 3rd and 4 in the red zone to dip under an angle and then break a tackle at the right sideline to work inside the five of New Orleans. Freeman did little to lose touches, but neither did the rest of the Atlanta backfield.
Two of QB Michael Vick’s first three completions when to Jenkins in the first quarter. His 18 yard reception was the first play in the Falcon’s first touchdown drive. His second reception was a beautiful 58 yard fly pattern between two defenders. Jenkins was dropped on the one yard line just short of the goal line, but it set up RB TJ Duckett’s one yard plunge.
Both of Finneran’s targets came on third down plays. The first one was a completed ball that Finneran almost screwed up badly. He had the yardage for the first down, but proceeded to run backwards across the first down line looking to escape and gain extra yardage. He barely managed to gain the necessary yardage on the play. His other target was on the sideline on a third and eight play. His seven yard reception was just short of the marker.
White started the game for the Falcons but the rookie was not much of a factor. White’s lone incomplete target came in the third quarter.
He dropped a pass after contact in the late first half over the middle and his second target resulted in a catch without a gain.
Julio Jones had a great performance as a rookie but you would
be forgiven to think it was a dissapointing performance after all the
hype during the pre season. Jones was not the explosive, bomb threat
we expected him to be in this game but did show some very nice things
to his game. Jones has great concentration and hands for the ball
which led to many catches that were highly contested with a close
defender or in traffic. Ryan was unable to go deep in this game due to
a stifling Bears defense but against another team on another day, he
could prove much more dangerous. Jones has the speed to get behind
defenders when left with 1 on 1 match ups and the physicality to play
up close on short routes.
Sanu dropped two passes in this game against tight coverage but when he was wide open, he made plays. His two biggest plays occurred during the first quarter. The first was a 59-yard catch and run up the right sideline on a busted zone coverage after a read-option fake. The second play was a post route from a trips set where Sanu made a nice head fake outside and break inside against Brent Grime's off coverage and then made a leaping catch att the end line. Sanu dropped a designed roll earlier in the contest on a crossing route off a boot-action pass. He also dropped a pass in the third quarter with Brent Grimes breaking up the play. Sanu caught an easy flat route for a two-point conversion to cut the lead to 10 late in the third quarter.
Crumpler was often Vick’s first, second, and last option on passing plays. When leaving the pocket and scrambling Vick seemed to get radar locked on Crumpler. Crumpler made several nice grabs including an amazing diving one-handed 24 yard snag coming across the middle. The Falcons hurried to the line and ran another play before the Eagles could consult replay to see if he really made the catch. In the fourth quarter Crumpler was targeted in the end zone on a lobbed jump ball. Crumpler made the catch but DB Brian Dawkins ripped it out of his hands at the last moment.
Blakley saw his only target in the first quarter which was overthrown by Michael Vick.
As expected, the Falcons moved Gonzalez around in an attempt to confuse the Dolphins, splitting him wide and then motioning him to the line of scrimmage or motioning him out to the slot to get the benefit of a rub from Roddy White in the slot. He was targeted on crossing routes and drag routes, making good catches in tight, single coverage. He also ran a terrific post pattern that ended with a diving grab to get inside the five yard-line and later in the game, took a short drag route for a 20-yard score after putting stiff arm on Yeremiah Bell and cutting outside his downfield block to the sideline. His stats looked like he was option one in this offense but if not for Matt Ryan’s poor downfield throws to Roddy White he would have been option two. Nonetheless, he’s still a strong, No. 1 TE.
Of Coleman's first four touches, three of them were perimeter plays. His best play was a 47-yard swing pass to the right flat. Ryan threw the ball behind Coleman and the second-year tight end made an excellent back shoulder adjustment on the move to snare the ball and take it up the right sideline. Coleman's outside plays were exciting and he came close to breaking his second touch to the right side, but he was not effective inside. When he earned more than a few yards up the middle in this game, he was given the ball on "long" down and distance situations that meant a four-yard gain wasn't a significant output. He gained 21 yards on a play fake and catch on a route to the flat. Then they put him outside as a receiver and ran the screen for another first down for 16 yards.
Tamme earned a grand total of three targets and all were short throws on crossers, flats, and seam routes. He was not a factor in this game beyond these selected targets.
Tony Gonzalez’s replacement had a decent game by his standards as a blocker first and outlet receiver second. Atlanta found Toilolo for two receptions during a drive that accounted for first downs. Atlanta spread the field and leaked Toilolo to the flat on both plays. New Orleans did not account for Toilolo and the big tight end was able to rumble up field for enough yards after the catch to earn first downs on both routes. However, Toilolo could not catch the type of pass that would normally be thrown to Gonzalez: an out-breaking route against tight single coverage where Matt Ryan wisely targeted Toilolo high, but the tight end let the ball go through both hands. He was also overshot on a drag route in the fourth quarter that forced Atlanta to kick a 52-yard field goal to tie the game. The play call was well-thought out, but Toilolo was not quick enough to get the necessary depth on the route to reach the ball. Despite the fact that Toilolo’s ability to make plays in single coverage is questionable, the plethora of weapons Atlanta has in the red area makes Toilolo a sneaky red zone target inside the five. This week, he scored after sneaking from the backfield as one of three tight ends on a play action play inside the five.
Peterson made both of his extra point attempts. The Falcons didn’t come close to give him an opportunity in the game to attempt a field goal.
The Falcons defensive line was able to contain RB Brian Westbrook with little help. The Falcon linebackers were seen dropping in to coverage on virtually every play giving up run responsibilities. Westbrook was able to burst through for two long gains in the second quarter, but other than those two runs he was shut down in the run game. McNabb’s legs did not test the Falcons as he stayed put in the pocket.
Second year CB DeAngelo made a name for himself being matched up one on one with WR Terrell Owens for the entire night. The undersized Hall was physical with Owens at the line of scrimmage early and often. Hall made a nice adjustment to a deep ball in the first quarter for his first interception of the season. Even though Owens did post 112 yards receiving, Hall did a nice job of keeping Owens under control as Owens saw 19 passes thrown his way. The Falcon’s front four put heavy pressure on QB Donovan McNabb throughout the game. They forced McNabb to deliver passes too soon on several occasions and put quite a few big hits on him.