Eagles vs Falcons Preview

After eight and a half long months of questions and uncertainty around the Eagles future, we have finally reached Week 1 of the NFL season where we will be seeing the debut of the Nick Sirianni and Jalen Hurts era in South Philly. On Friday afternoon, the Eagles released their injury report for the upcoming game against the Falcons, so let's dive right into the injury report.


Injury Report:


For the first time in a long time, the Eagles' injury report is promising. There were four players on the injury report this week; Brandon Brooks, Rodney McLeod, Landon Dickerson, and Davion Taylor. Both Dickerson and McLeod will miss Week 1, but All-Pro guard Brandon Brooks is fully healthy after missing the entire 2020 campaign. Second year linebacker Davion Taylor is questionable for Sunday's game with a calf injury, but he was listed as a full participant in practice, so we could expect to see Taylor out there quite a bit. it is also worthy to note that Jalen Hurts will have his entire starting offensive line for the season opener, which may have been the biggest news we received this week.


Key Matchups:


Defense:

  • Calvin Ridley vs Darius Slay

  • Jaylen Mayfield vs Fletcher Cox and Javon Hargrave

  • Kyle Pitts vs Eagles linebackers

On the defensive side of the ball, we presume that Darius Slay will be following Calvin Ridley around all afternoon, but how will the Eagles matchup against the freakishly talented Kyle Pitts? When you look at the Eagles depth chart, Pitts is too fast for all of our linebackers and too tall for all of our corners, so Jonathan Gannon has to get creative in his coverages. With how talented Pitts is, he still hasn't played an NFL snap, so Jonathan Gannon could look to disguise his coverages and confuse Pitts. If Gannon could rattle Pitts early in this game, that could make the Eagles job significantly easier. Another key matchup to watch is Falcons rookie offensive lineman Jaylen Mayfield going up against All-Pro defensive tackle Fletcher Cox. Mayfield will have his hands full in his first NFL game, and if the Eagles make Matt Ryan uncomfortable in the pocket, the Falcons offense could stutter. Ryan is not the quarterback to do well with pressure in his face, so we could expect to see Gannon bringing some blitzes on obvious passing downs.


Offense:

  • AJ Terrell vs Devonta Smith

  • Deion Jones vs Dallas Goedert

  • Grady Jarrett vs Jason Kelce and Brandon Brooks

Taking a look at the offensive side of the ball, the most intriguing matchup is most definitely the Falcons second year corner AJ Terrell going against the rookie Devonta Smith on the outside. We should expect to see Smith moved all over the field, but if Terrell isn't following him around all day, Sirianni may keep Smith on one side of the field to get favorable matchups against the rest of the Falcons' secondary. Outside of Terrell and veteran Duran Harmon, the Falcons' secondary it underwhelming, so we could see Sirianni test them early with a few deep shots. The strength of the Falcons' defense is inside linebacker with Deion Jones and Oluokun, but the Falcons were statistically one of the worst teams against tight ends last season. Under a new defense, we could expect the Falcons to put more of an emphasis on covering the tight ends with their linebackers, especially against a Philly team with a top tier tight end room. If the Falcons' linebackers focus on covering the tight ends, that could allow for less stacked boxes for Miles Sanders to run through, and Jalen Hurts could also take the game over with his legs. If the Eagles get a run game going early, that would force the Falcons' linebackers to cover the run, allowing Ertz and Goedert to get favorable matchups with smaller safeties.

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