We watched the Eagles beat the Falcons. Here’s what we saw:
Pass offense: B
If the Eagles’ wide receivers ever decide to catch footballs with consistency, this could be a fairly productive offense.
A week after a shoddy performance against the Giants, Carson Wentz settled in against the Falcons’ questionable secondary, peppering in a handful of great throws to a guy named Jordan Matthews, and even one to Zach Ertz.
Matthews still had at least one too many drops, and Nelson Agholor’s first catch of the game was only ruled a catch because Doug Pederson reviewed it after it looked like he bobbled his way out of bounds.
But Pederson used Darren Sproles to full effect in the passing game, Zach Ertz showed out int he second half, and the passing game was, for yet another week, solid considering the absolute dearth of talent on the roster.
Run offense: A
Who was that wearing No. 24 today? Ryan Mathews looked like an entirely new man, gashing the Falcons’ suspect defensive line for 19 carries, 108 yards and two touchdowns, by far his best game of the year. He ran strong and fast all day, with the kind of burst we haven’t seen since last season, when he was the best rusher on the team.
Doug Pederson used Wendell Smallwood to spell Matthews a handful of times, but it was largely Mathews’ show, just a couple of days after Pederson said it was fair to call Darren Sproles the team’s lead running back. Hey, whatever, right?
It was encouraging to see Mathews come up big in a big spot, especially carrying for a big, momentum-fueling second touchdown on the Eagles’ first drive after the blown helmet-to-helmet call on Jordan Matthews. After a brutal first half of the season, Mathews looked on Sunday like the runner Eagles fans expected.
Pass defense: B-
Look, there’s only so much you can do against two players like Matt Ryan and Julio Jones. Docking points for getting beat by the best QB-WR tandem in the world right now makes little to no sense. But allowing a 76-yard touchdown pass to a guy named Taylor Gabriel (seriously, who?) isn’t going to help you one bit.
Granted, Leodis McKelvin has been struggling with a hamstring injury all season long. Getting toasted when you’re not at 100 percent isn’t nearly as brutal as it would be were McKelvin fully healthy. And yet the way he lost to Gabriel on the play — which gave the Falcons their first lead of the game — was by biting on a double move, not losing on speed.
Holding Matt Ryan to 267 yards is, relatively speaking, a pretty good afternoon. You’d like to do better, ideally, but he’s a talented quarterback. Things could’ve unfolded so much worse for the Eagles. They also could’ve been better.
Run defense: B+
The run defense is a serious strength of this team at this point. In a close game like this one, opposing teams can afford to run the ball to keep a defense honest, but the Falcons simply didn’t find much success on the ground, one 17-yard carry from Devonta Freeman aside.
With the return of Bennie Logan, he and Fletcher Cox teamed up for a serious one-two punch of no return. Brandon Graham had another stellar all-around game around the edge, and Connor Barwin even showed up in spurts, which was exciting.
The Cowboys game, allowing plenty of rushing yards to Ezekiel Elliot, made sense. Allowing all those rushing yards against Washington certainly didn’t, but that’s the game in which Logan was hurt. Even with those two games, however, the Eagles are allowing fewer than 100 rushing yards per game since Week 1. That’s the kind of defense Jim Schwartz can hang his hat on.