You've got to give Moonbeam credit (begrudgingly)… He's said all along the 2012 Eagles were deficient on both the defensive and the offensive lines, and at the safety positions… and last Sunday, he was proven correct.
The Eagles (3-4) were beaten and worn down off the snap on both sides of the ball, albeit by a very good Falcons team that is for real at 7-0…
It was a tragic outing by the Eagles. They played from behind the 8-Ball from the moment they won the coin-toss and deferred the opening possession to the Falcons.
It made for a long, dreary afternoon as the Eagles couldn’t stop the Atlanta Falcons on offense and they couldn’t keep pace when they had the ball in their 30-17 loss Sunday.
Todd Bowles’ debut as defensive coordinator in place of Juan Castillo, who was fired Oct. 16, did not go well. The Falcons scored on their first six possessions through 3 ½ quarters. Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan picked apart the defense at will, completing 22 of 29 passes for 262 yards and three touchdowns.
By the time the fourth quarter started, the Eagles trailed by 20, the rain was falling and the stands at Lincoln Financial Field were nearly empty.
It was the first time the Eagles had lost their first game back from their week off in Andy Reid’s 14th season as head coach. If the Eagles (3-4) don’t turn around their season soon, it might be Reid’s last season.
At least the Eagles ended their three-game drought without a sack as Cedric Thornton tackled Ryan behind the line of scrimmage in the third quarter. It was their first sack since Sept. 23 against Arizona. The Eagles even got a second sack late in the fourth quarter.
It was way too little, too late as the Eagles started out dreadfully on defense and never really got much better.
Instead of making a good first impression for Bowles, the Eagles allowed the Falcons to methodically march down the field on a 16-play drive that used up 8 minutes, 44 seconds which ended with a 15-yard touchdown pass from Ryan to Drew Davis. Atlanta converted on all three third-down conversions, getting help on one of them by a holding penalty on Jason Babin.
Rookie linebacker Mychal Kendricks didn’t play in that first series, reportedly because of an undisclosed disciplinary issue. Casey Matthews replaced him for that drive.
Kendricks' return didn’t make much of a difference as the Falcons embarked on another time-consuming drive that was kept alive twice by Eagles’ penalties, including the first of two pass interference penalties by Kendricks.
This, too, ended in a Falcons’ touchdown, not to mention a torrent of boos from the crowd.
The Falcons had the ball for 13:02 of the first quarter to just 1:58 for the Eagles. Atlanta outgained the Eagles 108-5 in the period and ran 24 plays to the Eagles’ 4.
The slow starts have been a recurring theme for the Eagles this season. By falling behind 14-0, the Eagles have been outscored 40-7 in the opening period.
The Eagles briefly got back in the game with a 13-play drive that lasted 7:14, culminating in LeSean McCoy’s 2-yard touchdown run.
The Eagles, however, couldn’t stop the Falcons.
Atlanta answered right away when Ryan connected on a 63-yard pass to Julio Jones, who blew by Eagles’ cornerback Nnamdi Asomugha on single coverage. A Falcons' field goal with 2 seconds left in the half put the Eagles behind by 24-7… and the team was serenaded with boos as the players ran off the field.
The teams traded field goals to start the third quarter. And when the Falcons got another field goal on the first play of the fourth quarter, the Eagles were down by 30-10.
By then, the rain had started falling and the stands were more than half empty.
Vick’s 7-yard touchdown pass to McCoy with 7:18 left in the game was little consolation in a game that was lost long before that.
It doesn’t get any easier for the Eagles, who will face the Saints in New Orleans next Monday night.
I don't usually quote ex-Eagle Garry Cobb, but today I will go to him…
"The Eagles organization was out-played and out-coached today by the Atlanta Falcons. There’s no other way to explain what Atlanta did to Andy Reid and his ball club. This was a total domination by the Falcons. They controlled the football for nearly the entire first half and converted third down after third down."
Cobb got that right…
“That was an embarrassing performance”, Reid said afterward. “We obviously didn’t start fast enough. We didn’t get off of the field on third downs early. We’ve got to be able to do that and then they got some big plays on us. We did not have big plays offensively. We started slow again, at least through the first few series there. I’m stating the obvious [that] we need to get better. I need to do a better job.”
The Falcons came into the game with the idea of controlling the game with a dominating ball control attack. They used the bunch formation to successfully attack the Eagles secondary. They used the bunch formation on four of the first five third down situations to keep the ball for nearly all of the first quarter.
The Eagles ran only four plays in the first quarter as the Falcons built themselves a 14-0 lead.
It took the Falcons 16 plays to move the ball from their twenty-yard line, 80-yards for the first touchdown of the game.
On the second offensive play of the game for the Falcons, Matt Ryan hit Eagles rookie defensive tackle Fletcher Cox right in the hands, but he dropped the ball. Looking back, it was the Birds’ best chance of stopping the Atlanta offense in the first half of the game.
On the first third down play on the first drive of the game, Atlanta came out in a bunch formation and somebody left Falcons wide receiver Drew Davis wide open on their left flat. Safety Nate Allen came over to make the tackle, but it was well after Davis had picked up the first down.
On the second third down play on the first drive, defensive end Jason Babin was caught holding Falcons running back Jacquizz Rodgers. The Birds were blitzing some of their defensive backs, so they had Babin in coverage on the play.
The Falcons got into the bunch formation again for the third third down play. Atlanta’s number one receiver, Roddy White simply went downfield about fifteen yards and hooked up. Ryan put the ball on his numbers as the Eagles defensive backs looked on.
Birds cornerback Nmandi Asomugha dove to try and knock the ball down, but to no avail.
The fourth third down situation was a third and one. This time the Falcons handed the ball off to Michael Turner and he gained the yard to keep the drive going.
The fifth third down situation occurred with the ball on the Eagles fifteen yard line. Atlanta quarterback Matt Ryan fooled Kurt Coleman and Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie by faking a quick screen. Coleman and Rodgers-Cromartie left wide receiver Drew Davis. He was running all by himself in the end zone. He ran a fade route into the end zone and nobody covered him.
Ryan hit him in stride and the only thing in question was whether he got his feet down. He got them down by dragging his right foot when he caught the football. Falcons had themselves a 7-0 lead.
Things got worse for the Birds when the offense went three plays and out.
Michael Vick threw a pass to Brent Celek which should have been caught, but wasn’t placed very well. On the next play, LeSean McCoy tried to run outside to his left, but saw no room. He brought it back to his right and lost a yard on the play. Vick was sacked on the next play and the Birds had to punt the ball back to the Falcons.
Atlanta put together another scoring drive. They had the ball for all but 1:52 seconds of the first quarter.
I know things look and feel bleak right now… This one was a stinker in the tub. But a shot at New Orleans next Monday night to get to 4-4… There is still hope.
We have simply got to get a quicker jump-step off the snap of the ball—-on both sides. The Eagles are getting beat on both sides of the point of attack.