Peters was a beast on Sunday night, pure and simple. He owned Ray Edwards all night. He got downfield in the passing game, including Maclin’s 35-yard touchdown catch where he paved the way with a great block. He dominated in the run game as well, consistently giving McCoy lanes to run to on the left side. Overall, definitely one of his best games as an Eagle. The biggest reason the offensive line gave up zero sacks this week was Peters’ play against Edwards, although Herremans did a great job on Anderson as well, allowing him only one tackle. Chris Collinsworth’s man crush was out for everyone to see Sunday night, and on this night, he was justified.
Cole was the best player on either team all night. He was an absolute monster in both pass rush, with a sack and constant hits on Matt Ryan all night, and against the run, where he had 5 more tackles. He was a huge reason the Eagles were able to hold Michael Turner to 3.4 yards per carry until he broke that 61-yarder in the 4th quarter. Even from the wide-9 technique, Cole was able to read the handoffs and find a way to clog up the middle of the field for most of the night. He’s well on his way to another Pro Bowl appearance, as Jim Washburn’s constant rotation seems to be keeping him fresh.
Good to see J-Mac in the “studs” category after a rare appearance in the “duds” list last week. His 13 catches were 3rd in Eagles history for a single game, and his 171 yards and 2 touchdowns seemed to come easily. He seems to have reclaimed his spot as Vick’s favorite target, which is great news going forward. Vick completed 8 passes to Maclin for 108 yards and 2 touchdowns before his injury. He looks healthy, focused, and ready to take that next step as a wideout. It seems that last week’s rare off week was just an aberration, and hopefully we’ll be seeing much more of this week’s Maclin as the season goes along.
Once again, Shady is in the “studs” category after carrying the ball 18 times for 95 yards and a TD. You guys should get used to seeing him here, because he’s another guy who seems like he’s ready to take a huge leap into the spotlight on this team. He’s quick, elusive, agile, has great vision, and can even be powerful when he wants to. McCoy also chipped in with 4 catches for 21 yards. He is averaging 6.6 yards per carry through the first two weeks of the season, after averaging 5.2 yards last year. He should have been a Pro Bowler last year, in my humble opinion, and he’ll make up for that with a huge season this year. Look for even better things ahead for the former 2nd round pick.
The Red Zone D
I’m lumping them all together on this one, because absolutely no one did their job when it counted in the Red Zone. The Falcons scored 5 touchdowns on 5 trips inside the 20, accounting for all 35 points. Overall, the defense did a very good job containing both Ryan and Turner. But, once they crossed the 20, it was like they forgot how to cover or tackle. Now, I understand that they were given awful field position three times (Vick’s fumble, Vick’s INT, and the poor 1st quarter punt return coverage). With that said, the defense’s job at that point isn’t even to stop them from scoring, but to just hold the opponent to a field goal at least one of those times. They didn’t get the job done on any of them, and 4 points was the difference in the game. This needs to get better for the Eagles to be able to get where they want as a team, which is Indianapolis in February. I know there are a lot of new players in a new system and they didn’t have a normal offseason. But, to be blunt, they just have to do a better job than they did on Sunday night.
We heard about them throughout training camp, and the whispers have become screams through the first two weeks of the season. They got eaten alive by Tony Gonzalez, who in most defenses, was covered by a LB. They actually did a fairly nice job on Michael Turney for most of the game, but the 61-yarder in the 4th was the play of the game for the Falcons and cannot just be thrown out. Matthews couldn’t shed his block on that play, and it left a gaping hole in the middle that I could have run through. I understand that there is no quick fix here, as the Eagles just don’t have anyone to replace the three they’re already using. These are the best three LBs they have, and it sounds like it’s who they are going to stick with. I’m not going to rag on the Eagles for not fixing this in the offseason, as that would be beating a dead horse (and also would seem like I was complaining about their offseason run on free agency, which I definitely am not). But, you can’t help but wonder if they are playing a little out of position. Wouldn’t moving the bigger Jamar Chaney back to his favorite position, MLB, to help with the run make sense? Then moving the smaller, quicker Casey Matthews out to strong side to help defend the tight ends that they have struggled so mightily with? I know Andy and his staff know way, way, way more about football than I do. And with their track record, it’s tough to question them. Just wondering
Page looked completely lost on almost every play. After the preseason and week 1 win, I was actually cautiously high on Page. I have always believed Nate Allen is the superior safety, but with his knee still not completely healed, Page seemed better than just a fill-in until Allen was ready in the second half of the season. He played tough and smart for most of his time on the field before Sunday night. But on Sunday, the Falcons just picked on him. They didn’t want to throw at the corners (smart move), so they decided to attack down the middle with Tony Gonzalez. I already mentioned the linebackers’ role in covering tight ends, and the safeties need to do their part as well. The middle is where the Eagles will be attacked this year, whether it’s by throwing or running, as that is where their weakness lies. For them to get better against the tight ends that they have struggled with for the past year-plus, they can’t have many games from Page like he put out on Sunday. Page needs to show improvement or Allen needs to get healthy. Either way, it better happen quickly.