Saturday, July 4, 2015

Eagles rapid response: win over Atlanta

The Eagles measured up, QB controversy looms and concern about DeSean Jackson after an impressive win.

Eagles rapid response: win over Atlanta

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(OK, maybe not really "rapid," but we're trying something new, so please bear with us).

Quick reactions to the Eagles 31-17 win.

What it means: Several Eagles said after the game they saw this week as a “measuring stick,” an acknowledgment that they had yet to beat a heavy-hitter. Well, they measured up. The Eagles dominated a playoff contender and at 4-2 are tied for best record in the NFC.

Big moment: The Eagles were up 21-7 when the Falcons went for it on fourth down and picked up a first down deep in Philadelphia territory. But the defense held Atlanta to a field goal and the offense responded with an 83-yard touchdown pass from Kevin Kolb to Jeremy Maclin. At 28-10, the Eagles were running away with it.

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Story lines to watch: Andy Reid admonished the press to just “enjoy the win,” (as if our jobs changes with a win or loss), but the game left plenty of issues to address this week. Among them:

-- How is DeSean Jackson? He has a concussion. The four other Eagles who have had concussions this year all missed a game. Riley Cooper has now missed two. We’ll see about Jackson.

-- Who is the starting quarterback? Reid joked about the question and sort-of said it’s Michael Vick, and other times just danced around it. Yes, it’s nice to have two good options for 2010. But the decision on who starts will have ramifications for many more years beyond this one.

-- What was up with Michael Vick? The Eagles say he was allowed to arrive later than usual and that they kept him the locker room because he was the emergency third quarterback and unlikely to play. But other inactive players who have zero shot of getting on the field and aren’t even in uniform show up for warm-ups and spend the game cheering their teammates on the sideline. And it sounds unlike Reid to tell one player – one who might have been pressed into duty -- to arrive later than the rest. He got very prickly when pressed on this issue. Expect it to come up again Monday.

The offense: Behind a sharp Kolb (79 percent accuracy, 133.6 passer rating) and an explosive Jackson and Maclin (seven catches for 159 yards and two TDs) the offense grabbed a big lead and never looked back. Left tackle King Dunlap played well in place of Jason Peters, and the offensive line had perhaps its best game, giving up just one sack and giving Kolb plenty of time.

The defense: A strong showing by the D. They stifled the Falcons running game. That, combined with a lead (for once) forced Atlanta to throw and the Eagles had the answers in the secondary. Asante Samuel showed his value with an interception and three passes defended. Stewart Bradley had his best game of the year, and his first sack. Trent Cole had two sacks. Antonio Dixon had a strong game at defensive tackle.

Special teams: Bad day for David Akers (three missed field goals), good day otherwise as the punt and kick coverage held strong and Jorrick Calvin brought a kick back 44 yards.

Next: A trip to Tennessee to face the Titans, who are 3-2 and play the Jaguars Monday night. Will it be Vick or Kolb under center? And does the defense continue its strong performance against running back Chris Johnson? Last game before the Eagles get their bye and a chance to rest.

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