With high expectations entering the new NFL season, the Eagles disappointed against the Falcons, leaving Monday night with a 0-1 record.
After an exciting preseason, everything seemed set for the Eagles to make a run at the Lombardi Trophy. New quarterback Sam Bradford was making great throws, the defense looked like the best in the league, and the running game of Demarco Murray appeared unstoppable.
But, then again, the preseason doesn’t count.
The Eagles had their season opener September 15 on Monday Night Football, and they looked anything but the team that fans watched rout the Green Bay Packers on August 29.
Coming out flat in the first half, the Eagles were held to only 3 points and found themselves in a 20-3 deficit heading into halftime.
Many fans were shocked by the early ineffectiveness of Chip Kelly’s offense, including sophomore Drew Brady. “My expectations before the game was for the Eagles to come out scoring a lot of points because of all the hype about their offense,” Brady said.
Most Eagles fans, like Brady, were disappointed by the slow start of the offense. However, several people had their doubts about the defense.
“Honestly I expected a lot of what happened,” junior Amir Webb ‘17 said. “Julio Jones is one of the top receivers in the league, and I knew he would probably be too good to cover.”
One of the many new Eagles acquisitions, cornerback Byron Maxwell had the tough assignment of covering the 6’ 3”, 220 pound Jones and other Falcons receivers such as Roddy White.
But he did a poor job allowing 10 of the 11 passes targeted his way to go for 179 yards, according to sports writer Andrew Siciliano.
“I thought Sam Bradford came out and did what he needed to do,” said Brady. “But I was really disappointed in Byron Maxwell.”
Maxwell, who was signed away from the reigning NFC champions, the Seattle Seahawks, is in the first year of a six year, 63 million dollar deal to be the Eagles shutdown corner.
“He came out and couldn’t cover anyone,” said Brady.
Despite all the woes of the Eagles on both sides of the ball in the first half, they managed a comeback in the second half.
“The defense did start to make some key plays, turnovers, and stops, and the offense put up points,” said Webb, “but ultimately missed too many opportunities to win the game.”
Defensive back Malcolm Jenkins dropped two passes that would have been interceptions that would have given the Eagles good field position for the offense to score points.
Another key missed major opportunity was Cody Parkey’s missed 44 yard field goal attempt late in the fourth quarter. It was on fourth and 1 with the Eagles only down by two. The relatively short field goal would have given the Eagles a late lead.
“I think Parkey is on a downhill slope,” said Brady. “I think it’s time for the Eagles to find a new kicker.”
But the play that sealed the loss for the Eagles was a potential first down throw by Sam Bradford to wide receiver Jordan Matthews. With about a minute to play in the game and the Eagles trailing 26-24, the pass bounced off the hands of Matthews and was intercepted by the Falcons.
After that, Falcons Quarterback Matt Ryan was able to take a knee and end the game.