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Your In-Depth Eagles vs. Falcons Week 10 Preview

It’s time for the Philadelphia Eagles to get up off the Matt and try and turn this season back around, which is going to be an extremely tough task when Matt Ryan and Julio Jones come into town this Sunday afternoon.

Ryan is the league’s top-rated passer and Jones leads the NFL in receiving yards.

Good luck.

The Eagles have dropped four of their last five games following a 3-0 start.


PHI- 87.4 Passer Rating (19/32), 226 YPG (28/32)
ATL- 102.2 Passer Rating allowed (29/32), 290 YPG allowed (31/32)

On paper, this looks like a week where Carson Wentz might be able to get back on track going up against a vulnerable Falcons secondary, but he’s going to have to get off to a better start than he has been.

Four of his five interceptions this season have come in the first 10 minutes of the game and his passer rating during that time is only 55.7. His only touchdown pass during the first 10 minutes came on the opening possession of the season against the Cleveland Browns and the Eagles have kicked just four field goals over that duration since.

Another dilemma has been perceiving pressure when it hasn’t been there. Wentz is getting impatient and unnecessarily rolling to his right when he doesn’t have to. His footwork and the mechanics in the pocket have regressed since his first three games when he posted a passer rating of 103.5. I talked about this during my film study of Wentz on Wednesday.

Grant it, Wentz has no supporting cast and I don’t think it’s a coincidence that the struggles have coincided once Halapoulivaati Vaitai took over at right tackle.

Here’s what’s going on. Big V was atrocious against the Washington Redskins and Wentz was seemingly pressured on every play. Wentz subsequently wasn’t much better in that game. Vaitai has still had his struggles, although he’s done a much better job since then. The following week against the Minnesota Vikings, Wentz became impatient and while Vaitai had a solid outing, perceived pressure is what got the No. 2 overall pick in trouble. And when you’re worrying about pressure, the mechanics start to waver. How many times have we seen Wentz’s balls sail over recent weeks? It’s because he’s not setting his feet properly in the pocket.

As you can see on the two clips below, Wentz had a clean pocket to throw from, but scrambled to the right each time. On the interception, he didn’t set his feet and the ball got away from him.

Although their statistics against the pass aren’t great, the Falcons are getting after the quarterback a lot more than they have been in year’s past. They have 20 sacks on the season, which is 11th in the NFL. Second-year outside linebacker Vic Beasley has 7 1/2 of them, excelling this season after making the transition from defensive end to more of a dual role between the two positions.

Beasley has a quick first step and will be going against rookie right tackle Halapoulivaati Vaitai, who could be in for a long day.

Desmond Trufant is the one shining star in that not-so-great Falcons secondary. Trufant possesses great range, speed and instincts in man coverage. He’s tough, his hips are fluid and he’s extremely confident. He doesn’t have the best hands, but he’s always in position to make a play on the ball.

So Wentz should stay away from him, but the other cornerbacks might be had — DGB is going to produce at some point, right? — and I’m looking at Jordan Matthews to have a solid outing.

We’ll see how much of a workload undrafted rookie Bryce Treggs gets after seeing 14 snaps against New York. He caught two passes for 69 yards, including a 58-yarder.



PHI- 4.4 YPC (12/32), 107.8 YPG (17/32)
ATL- 4.0 YPC allowed (11/32), 91.2 YPG allowed (7/32)

Eagles head coach Doug Pederson said earlier this week that Darren Sproles is the Eagles’ No. 1 back and not Ryan Mathews.

“Right now, by stats, yeah, and what you’re seeing, I would say Darren is the No. 1 back right now. Ryan is still a big part, you saw the touchdown run he had yesterday, and Kenjon had a nice run, Wendell had a nice run, so it’s still a little bit of the running back by committee. Obviously we haven’t hung our hat on one guy, but we tend to lean a little more towards Darren Sproles,” he said.

Sproles has seen 123 snaps the last two weeks compared to 16 for Mathews, who has seen the field less since fumbling for a second time late in the fourth quarter during the Eagles’ Week 7 win over the Minnesota Vikings. Mathews has run for 287 yards and five touchdowns so far this season, with his yards per carry dipping from 5.1 last year to 3.8.

Sproles, meanwhile, has posted 285 yards on the ground to go with 241 receiving yards on 25 catches. He’s averaging 4.8 yards per carry this season. He has 28 carries in the past two games after toting the rock just 31 times in the previous six.

The Falcons defense prides themselves on playing fast, physical and flying to the ball. Although the talent is somewhat lacking, the production hasn’t been. Head coach Dan Quinn has done an outstanding job.



PHI- 81.4 Passer Rating allowed (5/32), 218 YPG allowed (6/32)
ATL- 119.0 Passer Rating (1/32), 315 YPG (2/32)

It’s simple, when the Eagles don’t pressure the quarterback, the cornerbacks get exposed. When they’re able to generate heat, they don’t.

Ryan has always been accurate and showcases enough arm strength to complete the intermediate and deep routes, which is obviously key with Jones on the roster. The MVP candidate has 23 touchdowns to go with just four interceptions so far this season.

Here’s where the Eagles’ defensive line and defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz’s blitz packages come into play because the Falcons have allowed 22 sacks, the sixth most in the league. They run a lot of play-action and sometimes it takes those routes a long time to develop. This is the opposite of what Philadelphia saw last week in their matchup against the Giants, a team that likes to get the ball out quick.

But you’d think after watching tape of that New York game that Atlanta offensive coordinator Kyle Shannahan will dial up a lot of quick drops for Ryan and stray away from the deeper ones.

If left tackle Jake Matthews and right tackle Ryan Schraeder hold up going up against defensive ends Brandon Graham, Vinny Curry and Connor Barwin, then this game is a wrap because Jones will torch the Eagles’ cornerbacks. He put up nine receptions for 141 yards and two scores against the Birds last year.

Jones is big and fast, he ran a 4.39 40 at the combine for a 6’3 220 pounder, that’s unreal. Guys his size aren’t supposed to be as athletically gifted as he is. Ghe balance and quickness that he has, the change of direction, he’s electric.

Mohamed Sanu signed a huge five-year, $32.5 million contract during the offseason to replace Roddy White, who was released. Sanu is at his best when the ball is in his hand and his big frame makes it tough to bring him down.

Can Leodis McKelvin bounce back after a disastrous outing, allowing four receptions for 83 yards and two touchdowns. That’s a perfect passer rating yielded by the way. Where’s Eric Rowe when you need him?



PHI- 4.4 YPC allowed (25/32), 107.1 YPG allowed (18/32)
ATL- 4.4 YPC (29/32), 70.1 YPG (32/32)

Devonta Freeman took the baton and ran with it after Tevin Coleman was injured last season. Freeman is patient and decisive with his cuts, which is imperative in offensive coordinator Kyle Shannahan’s zone-blocking scheme. He isn’t fast, but has some quick twitchiness to him.

Coleman has missed the past two games due to a hamstring injury. He’s been a huge threat in the receiving game this year, catching 19 passes for 330 yards and a touchdown.

It appears as if Bennie Logan might be returning this Sunday after missing the last three games with a groin injury. He’ll certainly provide a huge lift in run defense. His return will also help Fletcher Cox, who hasn’t recorded a sack since Logan’s been out.


PREDICTION- The Eagles have yet to lose at home this season (3-0), but the Falcons are 4-1 on the road.

I feel like I say this every week, but if the Eagles can generate a consistent pass rush to disrupt the timing between Ryan and the Falcons’ wide receivers, they have a great shot at winning this game. But I just don’t see this Eagles secondary being able to stop Jones. I also think Big V is in for a long afternoon going up against Beasley, whose already gone for 3 1/2 sacks in a game this season. I expect him to get at least two on Sunday.

My heart wants to pick the Eagles, but my head says otherwise.

Falcons 30-27

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