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Eagles’ defense tasked with containing still dangerous Falcons’ offense

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The Kist & Solak Show #117!

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Atlanta Falcons v Philadelphia Eagles Photo by Mitchell Leff/Getty Images

The Atlanta Falcons got blown out by the Minnesota Vikings in Week 1. The Atlanta Falcons are still dangerous. It’d be easy to dismiss them after such bad showing in the season opener and it’s absolutely fair to have concerns about their offensive coordinator Dirk Koetter. However, their talent can’t be denied. That makes them dangerous regardless of last week’s result.

On The Kist & Solak Show #117, we begin our pair of preview shows by highlighting the Philadelphia Eagles’ defense and it’s task of slowing down the Falcons’ offense. A couple key topics discussed on the show are as follows...

  • In the summer, Pro Football Focus dubbed Julio Jones an Eagles’ killer. Considering the Falcons haven’t beaten the Eagles since their coaching change, perhaps that’s overstating it. Yes, Julio has always put up very good numbers against the Eagles, but they haven’t been entirely efficient when targeting him. Here’s Matt Ryan’s stat line when throwing to Julio against the Eagles over their last three tilts:

29/51 (56.9%), 405 yards (7.9 Y/A), 0 TD, 2 INT, 66.2 QB Rating

Schwartz is the type of coordinator that will put up a dud one game and then stifle a team with great weapons like Atlanta. Schwartz definitely morphs his gameplan to accommodate for Julio, as we can see be how he treated the alien superstar in the red zone last year.

With Calvin Ridley entering his second year after an excellent rookie season, perhaps this is where the three-game dam breaks. Although I wouldn’t put it past Falcons’ offensive coordinator Dirk Koetter to scheme up another stinker.

  • The Falcons’ offensive line was buns last week and they’re only going to be worse with their rookie right guard being placed on injured reserve. Matt Ryan had a 28.6 QB Rating when pressured and looked uncharacteristically rattled by the pass rush. Let’s hope that holds for one more week as the Eagles’ have a plus match-up.

A key match-up to watch is Derek Barnett vs. Jake Matthews. Usually solid, Matthews got whopped in Week 1 against Minnesota Viking’s edge rusher Everson Griffin. If Barnett continues to flash technical improvement in his hands and inside counters like he did in Week 1, it could be a real eye-opener regarding the progress he’s made.

Benjamin Solak touched on what Barnett’s development track might have to look like back in the summer of 2018:

“So what do I expect from Barnett in 2018 and 2019? Honestly, much of the same. Barnett is a limited athlete who is no longer much smarter than his college opponents, returning to his cornering success of Tennessee is likely a pipe dream for Barnett. Because he’s a hard worker with good hands, he’ll continue to improve his rush moves, increase the frequency with which he generates his own rush angles, and use his characteristic bend to finish. He’ll get better.

But the character of his game likely has to shift. It’s not about being a cornering expert; it’s about cornering well enough to build off of that threat.”

I’ve been similarly critical regarding Barnett, but what we saw in Week 1 was the necessary next step in his game. He’s no longer a bend-the-arc-only pass rusher, even if he didn’t get home for a sack. His use of hands and pass rush plan were marked improvements over the entirety of his college and pro careers, as Fran Duffy pointed out.

You can hear in-depth discussions on those topics and much more on The Kist & Solak Show #117! Listen on the media player below or click here if the player doesn’t load. New to podcasts?! Check out our guide on how to listen to BGN! FLY EAGLES FLY!