December 9, 2023

What to watch as Eagles kick off season against Falcons


Photo by Mitchell Leff/Getty Images

The Eagles are back.

This time with a new coaching staff, a new WR1, and high hopes.

The Birds head to Atlanta to face the Falcons to kick off the 2021 season.

Here’s three storylines for Sunday afternoon’s game.

Old Ryan

Matt Ryan has been sacked 131 times over the last three years, or once every 15 dropbacks, and that’s the seventh-highest percentage in the league.

If the Eagles can get to the 36-year-old Ryan, they have to pressure him, sack him, hit him, and make him move.

The Eagles will try to generate pressure with their edge rushers, but the biggest mismatch in this game is d-tackles Fletcher Cox and Javon Hargrave against the interior of the Falcons’ offensive line — guards Colby Gossett, Chris Lindstrom, and center Matt Hennessy.

Gossett has started four games in his career and hasn’t played since 2018 with Arizona, and Hennessy, a one-time Temple Owl, is a second-year pro who started two games as a rookie. Lindstrom is solid, but overall the Eagles have a huge advantage with the interior of their line against the Falcons’ front. They’re going to need to take advantage of it if they’re going to get out of Atlanta with a win.

Injury report

Eagles injury report:


OL Landon Dickerson (knee)
S Rodney McLeod (knee)


LB Davion Taylor (calf)


TE Jason Croom
T/G Jack Driscoll
TE Tyree Jackson
CB Josiah Scott
WR Michael Walker


DT T.Y. McGill

Falcons injury report:

Atlanta’s 53-man roster is healthy.


OL Josh Andrews
TE Ryan Becker
TE Jaeden Graham
QB AJ McCarron
DL Deadrin Senat
DB Kendall Sheffield


OT Matt Gono


TE Parker Hesse

Dismal secondary

Jalen Hurts Nick Sirianni will likely target the Falcon’s secondary a lot, being amongst the worst in the NFL this season. Atlanta spent a combined $3.3M on their secondary this offseason — CB Fabian Moreau, S Duron Harmon, and S Erik Harris are all on one-year deals — and AJ Terrell is still young in his second year. The Eagles’ shiny new receiver DeVonta Smith should have a productive debut.

The Eagles stack up better on paper, but things could get shaky with a new coach and system during the first week. However, if Jalen Hurts stays composed in the pocket and looks like he did earlier this preseason, the Eagles should be able to come out of Atlanta with a win.

Game information

When: 1:00pm ET
Where: Mercedes-Benz Stadium
Broadcast: FOX
Radio: 94.1 WIP

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