The Philadelphia Eagles came into the 2015 opener favorites on the road but couldn't contain Falcons receiver Julio Jones, losing to the Atlanta Falcons by a final score of 26-24. Let's take a look at how each unit fared in the first game of the new season.
Overall Grade: C
The biggest debate stemming from this game will be whether head coach Chip Kelly should have gone for it on 4th and 1 in the fourth quarter, but there were plenty of opportunities to win the game elsewhere. The offense could barely muster any positive yardage for much of the game, and the defense was unable to stop the Falcons offense for long stretches.
Overall it was the kind of performance that typifies Week 1; unfortunately it ended up costing the Eagles a winnable in-conference game on the road.
This game was a tale of two halves. The Eagles couldn't get anything going in the first half, and went into halftime down 20-3. But the team came to life in the second half, thanks in large part to Darren Sproles and Sam Bradford. But all in all, the sharpness we saw in the preseason simply wasn't there for most of the game.
Bradford finished the night 36 of 52 for 336 yards with one touchdown and two interceptions, and looked out of rhythm with his receivers for much of the game. And while Sproles was able to produce in the second half (he finished the game with 12 touches for 126 yards from scrimmage), the other running backs didn't get much love: the Eagles only ran the ball a mind-boggling 16 times in the entire game. Despite the limited touches, though, both DeMarco Murray and Ryan Mathews scored touchdowns.
Overall it felt like a very un-Chip Kelly performance to start the season.
All things considered, the Eagles' defense was able to keep the Falcons offense from really going off. But throughout the entire game, defensive coordinator Bill Davis' unit simply did not have an answer for Julio Jones. Atlanta's star receiver finished the night with nine catches for 141 yards and two touchdowns. The Falcons targeted the Eagles' new-look secondary all night, including prized free agent Byron Maxwell, who was burned a number of times.
But it wasn't all bad. The Eagles managed to come away with two interceptions (and could have had a couple more if Malcolm Jenkins had stickier hands). And the defensive line continued to look strong at points, even without a consistent pass rush.
Both Fletcher Cox and Bennie Logan were visibly disruptive all night, and the linebackers flashed as well. Connor Barwin had a couple of nice plays in coverage, Kiko Alonso came up with a beautiful interception in the end zone, and Mychal Kendricks had a big third down stop in the open field. Unfortunately, these plays proved to be too few and far between.
Like the offense, much of the defense is a work in progress, but the results Monday night were not overly exciting.
Special Teams: C-
The good news is that kicker Cody Parkey hit a 29-yard field goal in the second quarter. The much worse news is that he missed a 44-yarder in the fourth quarter with the Eagles down by two. Outside of that, punter Donnie Jones was inconsistent, and the return games were just fine. There wasn't much to write home about for special teams coordinator Dave Fipp's crew.