Before we get to the breakdown, a few notes on the Eagles' defense.
This is an extremely difficult group to evaluate because they are outstanding in certain areas (rushing the quarterback, covering with their corners) and just flat-out bad in other areas (consistent run defense, covering with their safeties and linebackers).
The 'D' looked gassed in the fourth quarter, giving up a pair of 80-yard drives. Before those two drives, I thought they played relatively well. But that doesn't matter. It's a 60-minute game, and the Falcons went 5-for-5 in the red zone, conjuring up memories of last year's struggles.
Keeping all that in mind, here's the player-by-player analysis after having re-watched the game:
Jason Babin - Babin did not play a particularly good all-around game. As a pass rusher, he had a sack and two QB hits, but Babin was also called for three penalties - two offsides and a holding. The Falcons had a lot of success running right at him. Michael Turner picked up 8 yards running at Babin on the first play. And he got blocked by Tony Gonzalez on Turner’s 15-yard run. The Falcons ran right at him on Turner’s 6-yard gain in the first. And it looked like Babin got pinned inside by Gonzalez on Turner’s game-winning TD run.
Trent Cole - It's hard to imagine an Eagles defensive lineman this year playing better than Cole played on Sunday. Normally, we talk about him as a pass-rusher, but let's start with Cole's effectiveness against the run. He blew past left tackle Sam Baker and tripped Turner up after a gain of 1 in the second. He and Mike Patterson later stopped Turner after a 2-yard gain. He was unblocked and dropped Turner for a 1-yard loss in the third. He blew right by Baker, dropping Turner for a 1-yard loss in the third. The Falcons inexplicably tried to block him with a tight end in the third, and Cole dropped Turner for a loss of 1. I only saw one run play where he didn't hold up. Cole got caught upfield on Turner’s 9-yard run in the first. As a pass rusher, he got one of his easier sacks in the second as Matt Ryan stepped into Cole after Patterson pressured him on a stunt. Cole pressured and hit Ryan, forcing an incompletion late in the first half. His pressure on Ryan forced an incompletion to Gonzalez in the third. His pressure forced Ryan to get out of the end zone as Cullen Jenkins tackled him after a 1-yard gain in the third. In the I bet you didn't notice category, the Eagles actually did drop him back into coverage once, but the play was called back because of offsetting penalties. By the way, Cole played 90 percent of the Eagles' defensive snaps.
Cullen Jenkins - He was very active as well. Jenkins made an outstanding play, dropping Turner for a 2-yard loss in the first. He did a good job of getting into the backfield down near the goal line late in the first half, but missed the tackle on Turner. He stopped the fullback after a 1-yard gain when the Falcons were pinned back at their own 1 in the third. He met Cole in the backfield, and they crushed Turner for a 1-yard loss at the end of the third. There were a couple issues against the run though. When Eagles defensive linemen get into the backfield, but don't tackle the ballcarrier, chances are the offense will hit on a big run. That happened on Jacquizz Rodgers' 10-yard run in the fourth. Jenkins also got blocked on Turner’s 61-yard run. And he was called for a personal foul penalty on a Turner run in the red zone in the first. As a pass rusher, he abused the right guard and absolutely crushed Ryan for a sack on the Falcons’ first possession. He tackled Ryan after a 1-yard run with the Falcons pinned in their own end zone in the third.
Mike Patterson - Patterson had a few standout moments. He and Cole stopped Turner after a 2-yard gain. He disrupted a Turner run in the third that resulted in a 1-yard loss. And Patterson's pressure on a stunt forced Ryan to step up into the Cole sack in the second. Not nearly as active or disruptive as Jenkins or Cole though. Patterson played about two-thirds of the snaps.
Antonio Dixon - He played about 22 snaps and was in the middle of a couple run stops, but I didn't really notice Dixon much this week.
Trevor Laws - Same for Laws. He played 18 snaps, but wasn't really in on any plays.
Juqua Parker - He played mostly left defensive end before getting injured, but I did see at least a snap or two with him at right defensive end. Parker did a good job of getting to Turner on his 1-yard carry in the first. He later read the toss to Rodgers at the end of the first half, but didn’t have the speed to make the tackle on what ended up being a 5-yard gain. We'll see if Parker's injury will keep him out. He looks to be better against the run than Babin.
Phillip Hunt - He only played four snaps and didn't get into the game until the fourth quarter. But give Hunt credit. He actually had a couple good pass rushes, and it looked like the offensive tackle clearly got away with holding him. On one, Hunt's pressure forced Ryan to throw the ball away.
Casey Matthews - I wouldn't say he played well, but Matthews improved from his Week 1 performance. Let's start with the bad: He was blocked by the center on Turner’s 8-yard run in the first. It looked like he was out of position on Turner’s 15-yard run. He was nowhere near the ball on Turner’s 9-yard run in the first. He was blocked by the right tackle on Turner’s 61-yard run. He was blocked out of the play on Rodgers’ 10-yard run that set up the final touchdown. And it looked like Jason Snelling was his responsibility on the 8-yard completion in the fourth. Now, the good: He read the play, shed a block and tackled Turner after a 4-yard gain in the first. He made a good play on Turner’s 1-yard carry in the first. He and Chaney combined to stop Turner short of the end zone on a run from the 2. He was in the middle of a Turner stop at the goal line on the next play. He hustled to bring Turner down after a gain of 2 on a carry inside the 10 late in the first half. He made an excellent play in the third, dropping Turner for a 1-yard loss. I'm guessing the coaches will praise his improvement and continue to play him next week against the Giants.
Jamar Chaney - I can't remember Chaney struggling like this since he started to get significant playing time as a rookie. The big play was the 61-yard Turner run in the fourth. Chaney was in position, but failed to make the play. He got off the block of the pulling guard and got one hand on Turner, but that was it. Other run plays where he struggled: Chaney was blocked mostly out of the play on Turner’s 8-yard run in the first. He was blocked before eventually recovering on Turner’s 9-yard run in the first. He missed a tackle on Turner’s game-winning touchdown run in the fourth. Chaney wasn't so good in coverage either: He got beat by Gonzalez for 15 yards in the first. He got beat by Gonzalez on the 4-yard touchdown in the second. The ball went right over Chaney’s head, and Gonzalez made a great one-handed grab. He gave up a 7-yard completion to Gonzalez on 3rd-and-4 in the fourth. The good? He and Matthews combined to stop Turner short of the goal line on a carry from the 2 in the first. He tackled Turner after a 5-yard gain in the second. And he stopped Turner after a gain of 2 in the fourth. Overall, not a good showing from Chaney.
Moise Fokou - Fokou played a little more than half the snaps, but didn't really have an impact. He was blocked by the pulling guard on Turner’s 15-yard run in the first. And he missed a tackle on Turner’s 32-yard catch and run in the third.
Brian Rolle - It was mostly Chaney and Matthews in nickel situations. Rolle only played seven snaps and was not in on any plays. Still not ruling out the possibility that he'll see an increased role in the coming weeks though.
Keenan Clayton - I had to rewind a few times to make sure I was really seeing No. 57 on the field in a non-special teams role. For the second week in a row, he got in the game in a goal-line situation. But Clayton also played as the only linebacker when the Eagles went to their dime package with six defensive backs and three safeties.
Asante Samuel - It seems clear through two games that Samuel is going to get targeted quite a bit this year. Ryan went after him five times and had limited success. Ryan targeted him early on a deep ball to Julio Jones, but Samuel had good coverage, and it was incomplete. He had excellent coverage on Jones in the second on the play that was initially ruled a catch but then overturned. He was playing behind Jones on the third-quarter interception. Samuel’s decision to just take a seat on the return when he was face-to-face with tight end Reggie Kelly was pretty funny. The biggest completion Samuel gave up was to Roddy White, who picked up 17 at the end of the third quarter. Overall, he played very well.
Nnamdi Asomugha - Asomugha had a good game too. He was targeted three times, but one of the completions he gave up was costly. Jones beat him for 14 yards on a big 3rd-and-2 completion in the fourth. Asomugha's coverage was good, but Ryan made a good play out of the pocket. Earlier, Ryan targeted him on a 3rd-and-14 in the second, but Asomugha had excellent coverage. Same thing in the fourth when Ryan took a shot at him deep. On the Falcons’ final drive of the first half, Asomugha played in the slot on Samuel’s side. Ryan was looking for Gonzalez, but Asomugha made a good read, and Ryan made a bad throw.
Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie - He saw time at right cornerback, left cornerback and in the slot. He played LCB after Samuel went out with the injury. Ryan took a shot deep to Jones on that side, but Rodgers-Cromartie ran with him step for step and broke it up. He later played in the slot and chased Harry Douglas across the field, but Ryan made another good play out of the pocket, hitting the wide receiver for a 15-yard gain in the fourth.. Rodgers-Cromartie dove in front of the pass, but couldn’t get his hands on it. Good hustle by Rodgers-Cromartie to chase down Turner on the 61-yard run. He was in a full sprint. Overall he played 32 snaps (just over half) and did a good job.
Joselio Hanson - He got into the game on a 3rd-and-11 play in the third when Samuel was injured and the Eagles used their dime package. Only two snaps though for Hanson, and he wasn't targeted.
Jarrad Page - Not a very good game for Page, who had trouble staying with Gonzalez. He got beat in coverage on the 17-yard touchdown to Gonzalez in the third quarter. But maybe the bigger play came when the Eagles lined up in dime with three safeties on 3rd-and-12 in the fourth. That allowed them to put Page, instead of a linebacker, on Gonzalez. But he got beat for a 13-yard gain on what turned out to be a big conversion. The Eagles have had huge holes in their zone coverages the first two weeks. Ryan hit Gonzalez for a 14-yard gain in the fourth to set up the fourth touchdown. He got behind Chaney and in front of Page. Page wasn't much better against the run. Turner ran right by him on the 61-yard gain. It could have been more like a 20-yard gain if Page had been able to make a play. And White effectively blocked him on Turner’s game-winning touchdown run.
Kurt Coleman - He had a good camp and a good preseason, but has not impressed through the first two weeks. Even after watching the replay several times, I’m not sure how Ryan’s pass went right by him and into the hands of White on the Falcons’ first touchdown. On another play, it was difficult to tell what kind of coverage the Eagles were in, but Ryan floated one over Coleman’s head and into Gonzalez’s hands for a 13-yard gain. He missed a tackle on Turner’s 32-yard catch and run in the third. Coleman had a few good plays, including a stuff on Turner on a rushing attempt from the 1 in the fourth.
Nate Allen - Had to rewind to make sure I was seeing No. 29 also. He got into the game in the third when the Eagles went with three safeties and one linebacker on a 3rd-and-11 play. Overall, he was on the field for three snaps in that same package. The Eagles could really use him if Allen gets healthy.
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