The winner of Sunday’s matchup between the Philadelphia Eagles and the Atlanta Falcons would not only earn themselves a W in the standings, but would also identify themselves as legitimate contenders in the NFC. After all, both teams had questions to be answered.
The Falcons, whose opponents to that point were all at .500 or below, were seeking to prove that they were deserving of the hype that surrounds an undefeated team.
The Eagles, on the other hand, were looking to hand the NFL’s only undefeated team its first loss. And in doing so, prove that their ship could be righted.
The Falcons came out on top decisively because the Eagles are not as talented as advertised. The Falcons were, and are, the better football team.
Looking back on the loss there are a few key plays, as well as a few consistent errors, that ultimately cost the Eagles the game.
For starters, the penalties on defense were too frequent and too egregious. Before the end of the first quarter the Birds and racked up three penalties. Two of them were on Jason Babin and one was on Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie. However, the worst of them was a pass interference call on Mychal Kendricks with the Falcons inside the Eagles’ 10 yard line. That wouldn’t be Kendricks’ last PI call on the day, either.
The Eagles offense, realizing it couldn’t succeed with big plays because of the team’s offensive line struggles, didn’t even attempt a pass longer than 15 yards from the line of scrimmage throughout the entire game.
The Eagles ran a dink-and-dunk attack up the field on each of their possessions that ate up too much time while they were too far behind on the scoreboard. And if they tried deep passes that didn’t work, they’d be getting criticized for bad play-calling. It’s time to realize that they just aren’t that good—no matter what kind of offense they’re running.
But the nail in the coffin for the Birds came on a huge run in the third quarter from Atlana’s Jaquizz Rodgers. The play ended up being a huge gain on the ground because Eagles safety Nate Allen missed a tackle on Rodgers before he’d broken free. To that point, Atlanta had scored every time they had the ball.
That wasn’t the first time Allen has ever missed a tackle, but it’s probably the most costly in one of the biggest spots. For a player who was billed as a big hitter, Nate Allen hasn’t been able to tackle at all.
It’s pretty clear that no matter who is drawing up the schemes and calling the plays that the Eagles’ defense isn’t that good. They run a Wide 9 that can’t sack the quarterback with two of the NFL’s premier defensive ends. It’s inexplicable.
They also have two safeties that have overachieved for what was expected of them, but may not be good enough to be a part of a championship caliber NFL defense. To pour salt on that wound, the team doesn’t have anyone on the bench who could even be considered to do a better job.
All wasn’t bad, though. Michael Vick picked up the yards on the ground he needed to when the opportunity was there. The Eagles’ quarterback also didn’t give the ball to Falcons four or five times.
Also, King Dunlap had a great day on the offensive line. He did a great job opening a hole for LeSean McCoy in the second half, and had a critical stop on John Abraham in the fourth quarter. But, that wouldn’t be enough to get the Birds into the end when it counted.
Although the season isn’t over for the Birds yet, there is a shadow cast over the team’s prospects for the rest of the season. There are too many inconsistencies, errors on both sides of the ball, and coaching decisions the team may not have the resources to fix in time to make a deep playoff run.