Day-After Dissection: Falcons-Eagles

The Eagles defense goes after Falcons running back Michael Turner during the first quarter. (Yong Kim/Staff Photographer)

Some thoughts on the Eagles’ 35-31 Week 2 loss to the Falcons while wondering why my dogs continue to think I’m never coming back every time I leave the house:

The Run Defense

Michael Turner rushed for 114 yards on 21 carries against the Eagles, with 61 of those yards coming on that momentum-swinging burst up the middle with eight minutes left in the game and the Eagles clinging to a three-point lead.

Turner had opened the game with 8- and 15-yard runs and gained 41 yards on his first seven carries. But for the next 2 ½ quarters, the Eagles did a nice job on him, holding him to 14 yards on his next 12 carries. Then he popped the big one, which he followed with the game-winning three-yard touchdown run.

While Turner is a 250-pound tough-to-tackle load, his size had little to do with his 61-yard run. He had an interstate-wide lane to run through thanks to linebackers Jamar Chaney and Casey Matthews both getting blocked out of the play. Left guard Justin Blalock pulled and took out Chaney, while right tackle Tyson Clabo kept Matthews occupied. Shortly after Turner’s long run, Falcons rookie Jacquizz Rodgers, who is just 5-6 and 196 pounds, picked up 10 yards on the very same play.

Some numbers on the Eagles’ run defense Sunday night and in their first two games:

--117 of the Falcons’ 138 rushing yards came in the first and fourth quarters.

--104 of their 138 yards came on first down. The Falcons averaged 6.1 yards per carry on first down, 1.1 on second down and 4.5 on third down.

--Eagles have allowed 292 rushing yards in their first two games. One hundred thirty of those 292 came in the first quarter.

--217 of those 292 rushing yards have come on first down. On just 33 carries. That’s 6.6 yards per carry.

The Pass Defense

The Falcons did what a lot of teams are going to do against the Eagles this season. They attacked the weakest part of their pass defense, which is their linebackers and safeties. Ten of Matt Ryan’s 17 completions and three of his four touchdown passes were caught by tight ends or running backs. Tight end Tony Gonzalez had seven catches for 83 yards and two TDs. All seven of his receptions went for touchdowns or first downs. In addition to his 114 rushing yards, Turner also had a 32-yard catch and run early in the third quarter that set up one of Gonzalez’s two TD catches. Linebacker Moise Fokou missed a tackle on Turner on the reception.

Some other numbers on the pass defense:

--With four sacks Sunday night, the Eagles have nine in their first two games. Three of the four sacks came on third down. In Week 1, none of the Eagles’ five sacks came on third down.

--Matt Ryan was 5-for-7 for 41 yards on third down. All five of his completions resulted in first downs. In Week 1, the Rams’ Sam Bradford was just 4-for-10 (42 yards) on third down.

Did You Notice?

--The Falcons had right end John Abraham line up occasionally on the left side opposite right tackle Todd Herremans.

--The Eagles have been running a Coltslike stretch play for LeSean McCoy out of a two-tight end set. Must be offensive line coach Howard Mudd’s impact on the play-calling.

--Steve Smith, who was only in for four plays against the Rams in Week 1, was on the field for about 15 plays Sunday night. He was targeted three times and caught two passes for 29 yards.

--Cullen Jenkins’ impressive start against the Falcons. On the Falcons’ fourth offensive play, Jenkins got into the backfield and dumped Michael Turner for a two-yard loss. Four plays later, he beat Falcons right guard Garrett Reynolds and registered the first of his two sacks of Matt Ryan. Jenkins already has three sacks in two games, tying Jason Babin for the team lead.

--Defensive coordinator Juan Castillo explaining to an unhappy arms-crossed Andy Reid what went wrong on Matt Ryan’s first-quarter touchdown pass to Roddy White.

--The penetration by defensive tackle Mike Patterson that set up Trent Cole’s second-quarter sack of Ryan.

--Falcons defensive tackle Vance Walker overpowered left guard Evan Mathis on Mike Vick’s 24-yard completion to Brent Celek in the second quarter. Walker hit Vick in the knees just as he was getting the pass off.

--When Ray Edwards picked up Vick’s second-quarter fumble, he was at the Atlanta 13 yard line and DeSean Jackson was three yards deep in the end zone. Jackson, who eventually caught Edwards and tackled him at the Philadelphia 24, made up a 16-yard difference over 63 yards. It should be pointed out that Edwards is no lumbering slouch. As defensive ends go, he can run.

--Jason Peters had an outstanding game against the Falcons. The only block he really missed was one that was next to impossible to make. That was coming over from the left tackle spot to try and pick up Perea Jerry, who caused that second-quarter Vick fumble. If Jerry had hesitated, Peters might’ve been able to get there in time. But he didn’t. He came through the hole vacated by center Jason Kelce like a shot and was on Vick before Peters could reach him.

--Asante Samuel wanted no part of Turner on his three-yard touchdown run late in the fourth quarter. Once Jamar Chaney failed to bring Turner down, it was game, set and match.


To read our earlier reports from today, click here.