The Falcons defense got absolutely torched on the ground against Minnesota in week 1. In week 2, they’ll face an Eagles offense that features a far better offensive line, a more effective young QB and similarly good receiving options. The running back by committee approach may not be as tough as facing Dalvin Cook, but this is going to be a challenging matchup no matter what.
Note: Assessments based on PFF scores
In the trenches
The Falcons defensive front was a mixed bag in Week 1. The interior played really well, led by Grady Jarrett, Allen Bailey and Tyeler Davison. It was on the edges where the Falcons really flopped. Vic Beasley and Takk McKinley both struggled early and often, and even a normally reliable player in Adrian Clayborn was flounderingfloundering throughout the day. That said, the unit is capable of generating interior pressure and the talent is there to play better than they did.
Unfortunately, they will be going up against one of the best offensive lines in the NFL. Jason Peters and Lane Johnson are two of the best bookend offensive tackles in the league. Jason Kelce is arguably a top three center in the NFL. Brandon Brooks at right guard is a top-notch interior player. If there’s a weak link here, it’s left guard Isaac Seumalo, who is mostly just average. That shows you just how formidable this OL is.
I hate to say it, but this one isn’t close. Atlanta needs to prove that the talent can deliver on the field before they get the benefit of the doubt. Going against a top-tier offensive line is a place to start, but I’ll believe it when I see it.
The skill positions
The Falcons are a mixed bag on the back end. Linebackers Deion Jones and De’vondre Campbell are highly athletic and capable of covering almost any tight end or running back in the league. Foye Oluokun is similarly athletic and looks to take a big step forward after an impressive rookie season. At safety, Keanu Neal is a hard-hitting run-stopper who also does a good job in coverage. Ricardo Allen is a smart, rangy free safety though both guys are still probably getting back into NFL shape after missing most of the 2018 season. Desmond Trufant appears to have bounced back from a rough stretch the past couple of years while second--year player Isaiah Oliver struggled badly in his first NFL start last week. Damontae Kazee is probably still getting used to the nickel, but clearly has the capability to be an impact player.
Carson Wentz continues to mature as a QB in the league and is quickly becoming one of the most dangerous guys in the pocket. His receiving trio of Alshon Jeffery, Nelson Agholor and DeSean Jackson is a very good unit that will challenge the Atlanta secondary. It doesn’t get any better when looking at the tight ends. Zach Ertz and Dallas Goedert are arguably the best one-two punch at tight end in the league. The running back rotation starts with Jordan Howard, with additional snaps going to Miles Sanders, Darren Sproles and Corey Clement. This is an incredibly talented group that Falcons fans should be nervous about.
Unfortunately for Atlanta fans, this matchup doesn’t make things any easier. The team really needs Oliver and Kazee to step up big and for Neal and Allen to get back into NFL regular season shape. Until we see them do it, though, you have to give the nod to Philly here.
There’s a reason many in the media think the Eagles are a favorite for the Super Bowl. This is an impressive offense from top to bottom. While they may not have a Dalvin Cook in the backfield, the rotation behind Howard is a good one.
This is a really tough matchup for the Falcons defense. Until they can show us something to believe in, the nod easily goes to the team from Philly.