October 4, 2023

Eagles beat Falcons in blow out fashion


AP Photo/Brynn Anderson

That’s a good way to start a season.

The Eagles destroyed the Atlanta Falcons 32-6 in Nick Sirianni’s head coaching debut.

Here’s three takeaways from week one win.

Brilliance from Hurts and Smith

What a brilliant performance from Jalen Hurts in his first opening-day start and his first game under Nick Sirianni.

He played such smart football and saw the field so well. Responded beautifully to pressure, didn’t force anything when it wasn’t there, took what the defense gave him, spread the ball around, used his legs when it was the right thing to do, threw the ball accurately, and just showed terrific poise and command of the offense throughout the game.

You still think he can’t throw the football? Hurts was 27-for-35 — that’s 77% — for 264 yards, three TDs, no turnovers, and 62 rushing yards on seven carries.

It didn’t take long for DeVonta Smith to show why there’s been so much hype around this kid.

Terrific body control, real talent for getting open, and catches the ball effortlessly.

You can see the chemistry he and Hurts have. Smith had the early 18-yard touchdown, making him the first Eagles rookie with a TD catch on opening day since tight end Keith Jackson’s 8-yarder from Randall Cunningham in Tampa in 1988. He finished 6-for-71, and only DeSean Jackson (106 vs. the Rams in 2008) has had more yards for the Eagles in a career debut. This franchise has been waiting for a kid like this for a long time.

Great debut for Sirianni

Sirianni called an exceptional game in his debut as an NFL play caller and did a very good job getting Hurts into a rhythm with the high-percentage short passes we saw so much of in training camp.

Sirianni’s best work came on the two-minute drill at the end of the first half, when the Eagles got the ball back on their own 38-yard-line with 1:44 left before halftime and just chipped away down the field, getting 12 plays in those 104 seconds and taking a 15-6 lead on Hurts’ brilliant roll-out TD pass to Dallas Goedert and Miles Sanders’ two-point conversion run.

He used the short passing game to build the lead and then unleashed a fresh Sanders on the Falcons in the second half.

I also liked how he mixed in Kenny Gainwell and really did a terrific job keeping the Falcons off balance.

It’s always fun seeing deep shots, but the Eagles didn’t need them Sunday; why run low-percentage plays when you’re moving the ball without them? All in all, a promising debut for Sirianni.

Defense turns around in 2nd half

You got to give a ton of credit to Jonathan Gannon for not just making adjustments after the first couple Atlanta drives, but also just getting his guys to calm down and stop trying to do too much.

Early on, the Eagles were getting gashed on the ground, allowing long third-down conversions and missing tackles. The Falcons’ offense was really out-physical-ing the Eagles’ defense early. The Falcons piled up 144 yards on those first two drives, and only some very good deep red-zone work kept them out of the end zone.

Maybe it was the lack of preseason game action or live training camp reps, but the defense just didn’t look ready.

After that, it was like we were watching a different team.

Once the Falcons had to throw, the Eagles’ defensive line took over and dominated.

After those first two field goals, the Eagles pitched a shutout.

The Falcons were 13-for-86 rushing in the first quarter and 11-for-25 the rest of the game. Overall, they netted 178 yards on their first three drives and 69 yards on their next seven drives.

That’s incredible. Tremendous work by Gannon and his staff.

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