A common post the SB Nation NFL team sites have done throughout this years asks the question: “Which [opposing team’s] player would [your favorite team’s] fans take?” With the Philadelphia Eagles set to play the Atlanta Falcons on Saturday, it’s time to address the question and familiarize yourself with the opponent’s roster.
We have to start with Matt Ryan here. The 2016 NFL MVP’s numbers are way down from last year: 18 fewer touchdowns, five more interceptions, and a passer rating that dropped from 117.1 to 91.4. Still, Ryan’s a good (but not elite) quarterback. There’s no question he’d be an upgrade over Nick Foles, although that’s not saying a lot right now. If the Eagles had Ryan, winning the Super Bowl wouldn’t be a lock. But everyone would be feeling significantly better about their chances.
Julio Jones is one of the most impressive wide receivers in the NFL. His freakish combination of size and athleticism makes him such a tough cover. Just look at his receiving totals from the past four seasons: 1,593 in 2014 ... 1,871 in 2015 ... 1,409 in 2016 ... 1,444 in 2017. What a beast. Foles has struggled to connect with his outside receivers, which could limit Jones’ production in this offense. But the Eagles could also move Jones all around the field to get him in different matchups. Philadelphia will have their hands full trying to cover him on Saturday. Mohamed Sanu is also a good receiver. He’s obviously not on the level of Jones, but still a good No. 2 option.
Devonta Freeman and Tevin Coleman are very productive running backs. They’ve combined for 2,109 yards from scrimmage this season. Freeman is more dangerous as a runner while Coleman is more than a capable option in the passing game. Sure wouldn’t mind having Freeman. He’s not my pick, though.
Falcons tackles Jake Matthews and Ryan Schraeder aren’t elite players at their position, but either one would be an upgrade over Halapoulivaati Vaitai.
Alex Mack is a really good center. The Eagles already have Jason Kelce, though.
Deion Jones is an absolute stud. It’s my belief more people would know of him had the Falcons not choked away a 28-3 lead in the Super Bowl last year. He was having a big impact in that game. The second-year linebacker was able to enhance his resume with another strong outing in 2017. Jones finished with three of the team’s eight interceptions. He also logged 91 tackles, 10 passes defensed, and one sack. At 6-1, 222 pounds, Jones isn’t the biggest middle linebacker in the world. What he lacks in size, though, he makes up for in speed. Jones figures to make life tough on the Eagles when it comes to the short passing game and runs to the outside. He’d be a great replacement for Jordan Hicks. With that said, Philadelphia might be able to have success attacking Atlanta up the middle. Jay Ajayi checks in at 6-0, 223 while LeGarrette Blount is significantly heavier than Jones at 6-0, 250 pounds.
You may remember Keanu Neal from last year’s Eagles-Falcons game where he put a big hit on Jordan Matthews. The hit actually broke JMatt’s facemask and gave the wide receiver a bloody lip as well. Neal isn’t known for making a ton of plays in coverage; he has one interception and 15 passes defensed over his first two seasons. His hard hits have allowed him to force eight fumbles over that span, however. Neal could be an upgrade over what the Eagles got out of Rodney McLeod this year. Plus you might want to take Neal just so no one on Philly’s offense gets hurt.
Desmond Trufant and Robert Alford are two good corners. With Jalen Mills and Ronald Darby struggling at times this season, one might be tempted to select them as their pick.
Grady Jarrett is an underrated player. He’s a guy who can generate some pressure up the middle in addition to being able to stop the run. The combination of Fletcher Cox and him together would be fun. Then again, the Eagles have Tim Jernigan. Hopefully Big Money Tim has a big game after being quiet for some time now.
The Falcons have some worthwhile pass rushers. I’m not taking them over the Eagles’ guys.
I’m going with the local guy: Exton, Pennsylvania native Matt Ryan. Foles has just been so bad recently. It’s possible he bounces back, sure, but it’s also possible he just stinks up the joint again and then the Eagles’ season is over. Philadelphia would not be three point home underdogs in this matchup with Ryan under center.
If you were deciding for the Eagles, who would you take? Vote in the poll below (click here if you can’t see it).
Pick one Falcons player to steal for the Eagles
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