The NFL season opener began with a bang, or better yet a Thunderstorm, as the weather delay during the Philadelphia Eagles-Atlanta Falcons game on Thursday night became symbolic for a messy, rough evening at Lincoln Financial Field.
The defending Super Bowl champs gave the Falcons numerous chances to win; failing to convert on offense, and turning the ball over late in 4th, Matt Ryan and company still didn’t get the job done. This was certainly a game that the Atlanta should have won, but instead will start the season with a loss.
This game reeked anything but a NFC Championship rematch that fans and media hoped for, the hype was very much downplayed after an abysmal first half, 6-3 (Philadelphia).
Both quarterbacks struggled to say the least, and the team as a whole looked like it was still preseason. Fans were actually booing the Eagles by halftime, showing their displeasure with a long awaited evening, especially with the weather delay.
Thursday night revealed and highlighted the lingering questions at quarterback, where as the surrounding unit for both teams prove to be solid. The Falcons have a tremendous offensive line, as do the Eagles, and are also complemented with a great defense all-around.
While QB Nick Foles wasn’t able to get the passing game going, he stuck to his team’s motto of running the football and trusted his line to do the rest. Jay Ajayi took advantage of the great blocking and scored two touchdowns for Eagles, but it was still a one possession game.
Ryan appeared to lean on his star wide receiver Julio Jones, who had a tremendous night with 10-of-19 targets for 161 yards, all game long.
Jones was getting doubled most the game, but still continued to be the focal point for the Falcons. It was almost if Mohamed Sanu wasn’t in the game, or any other wide receivers for that matter.
I was surprised that Head Coach Dan Quinn and his staff didn’t come up with some kind of RPO, or trick play to throw off the defense, rather than just throwing it to a fully-blanketed Julio Jones in the red zone. These were obvious passing situations, and clearly the Falcons failed to come up with a “Philly Special” of their own.
The Falcons certainly has to address their Red Zone inefficiency, or else it will continue to haunt them all season long.