PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — The Eagles had a rusty start in Week 1 against the Redskins, but the offense came out firing in the second half. The offense is looking to stay hot and the defense is preparing for a challenge as they head to Atlanta to face the Falcons on Sunday Night Football in Week 2.
CBS3’s football experts have your weekly breakdown and predictions for Week 2.
It was a tale of two halves for the Eagles as another slow start nearly ruined the season opener. What do the Birds need to do differently to get out of the gate faster against the Falcons?
Sports Director Don Bell: This week Lane Johnson joked that they’ve emphasized fast starts for a “a hundred years.” He’s right. Sluggish starts have been an issue since the 2018 opener when they were booed at halftime of Super Bowl banner night. Maybe they should set their alarm clocks earlier. Just a thought.
Sports Anchor Lesley Van Arsdall: I’m going to stand by what I said last week — I’m not concerned about the slow starts as long as they win games. Stick to the offense. Stick to the plan. Eventually everything will work out.
Reporter Dan Koob: I expect the Eagles to get the ball first, so my answer is to get a first down. The offense opens up and you get to develop a rhythm early. Whether it ends in points or not, a good first drive allows the nerves to settle for the first road game of the year.
Reporter Pat Gallen: If they win the toss, maybe they should keep the ball instead of deferring — give the offense a chance to start hot. I know the numbers say otherwise, but I think in this instance, getting that “7” on the board early is crucial on the road.
And on offense, take some big shots early. That can be a tone-setter.
Defensively, I’ve got nothing. Just don’t give up 70-yard touchdowns to no-name receivers and they’ll be fine.
Sports Producer Andy Wheeler: I think they just needed to get that game out of the way. They were going to be rusty and it was clearly the inactivity of the preseason more than anything Washington did. Nothing really different is needed other than maybe establishing the run quicker.
Case Keenum torched the Eagles’ secondary in the first half as the front four had trouble pressuring the quarterback. How concerned are you about this defense facing Matt Ryan, Julio Jones and company?
Bell: Be afraid. Be very, very afraid. The secondary and defensive line are dependent units. If the line doesn’t pressure Matty Ice, the corners will be toast. If the corners don’t cover off the line of scrimmage, Julio will get open immediately and the defensive line will be rendered useless. Honestly, they ALL need to play better.
Van Arsdall: Very concerned. Ryan and the Falcons’ offense looked awful last week and I don’t expect a repeat performance. The Eagles’ secondary needs to get things figured out and fast, because the Falcons are a dangerous team.
Koob: Julio will get his. In five regular season games against the Birds in his career, Jones is averaging seven receptions and nearly 120 yards per game. Last time the Eagles saw the Falcons in 2018, he had 19 catches for 270 yards in two games.
They can’t stop him. They won’t stop him.
He will be force-fed against an underwhelming Eagles’ secondary whether they can pressure Ryan or not.
However, as much as Julio lines your fantasy football pockets, the Eagles have won the last three meetings with Atlanta.
Gallen: Slightly concerned. They’ve done a good job of limiting Julio (sorta) but also pressuring Ryan in their last few matchups. I do think they’ll give Ryan some fits again, but I think Julio is good for at least one big play, and that could be the game-changer.
It looked like it was 2017 Wentz at Lincoln Financial Field on Sunday as he threw for 313 yards and three touchdowns.
Wheeler: I’m legitimately concerned. The Eagles’ defense looked horrible last week in the first half. If they have a half like that again against the Falcons, there may be no coming back like they did last week. The team will have its hands full this week.
After he tossed three touchdowns vs. Washington, is it too soon to declare that Wentz is back?
Bell: Nope! He’s back. That doesn’t mean he’ll coast into January. It just means that he’s confident in his abilities and physically capable of making all the plays.
Van Arsdall: It’s never too soon to get excited about Carson Wentz’s performance like that. But the key with Carson is health. I want him BETTER than “back.” He’s got to stay healthy and win some playoff games.
We’ve seen plenty of great games from Wentz in the past. What we haven’t seen is him playing in January. That’s the goal.
Koob: Not at all. As I mentioned in my Sunday KoObservation column — please click here so they keep asking me to do it — Carson is finally back.
He’s always had elite arm strength, but the win over Washington showed he’s regained his ability to manipulate the pocket freely without fear of his knee or back.
Some of those throws and adjustments were playground level, clear indication.
Gallen: Not at all. He got his one half to shake off the rust and then beat up on an inferior team. There may be some ups and downs, but he did what he was supposed to do one week in. He looks healthy, the arm is strong and the weapons are there. I’m all good with him.
Wheeler: Yes, the Redskins aren’t a proper test. He looked great and he looked healthy. I’m excited about how good he looked but I’m not ready to declare anything definitively with him yet.
Who on the Falcons concerns you the most?
Bell: Jones, Calvin Ridley and Mohamed Sanu. They have the potential to wreck the game in every way imaginable for the Eagles. Jones has 405 yards in his last three games against the Birds with no touchdowns. Is he due? We hope not.
Van Arsdall: I’ll say Jones. Malcolm Jenkins called him “the best receiver in the league,” earlier this week. With the Eagles’ secondary coming off a questionable game, Jones could be a big problem.
Koob: It’s not who but what.
Washington appeared to play a lot of two-high (two safeties) defensive looks in the first half against Philly to limit long balls and squeeze the passing offense underneath. It’s not exactly classified information that Wentz likes to hit the home run ball.
They tested his ability to be patient and conservation with his passing attempts and it worked. Wentz threw one pass over 15 years and the offense sputtered.
Zach Ertz confirmed that in the locker room, saying Washington started playing one-high (one safety, more vulnerable to deep balls) and DeSean Jackson went off.
I expect the Falcons to learn from Washington’s mistake and play two-high to limit big plays and continually test Carson’s patience by working the field.
Gallen: Julio, that’s it. And that’s no disrespect to anyone else, but he is one of the greatest in the game.
Wheeler: Jones. The Eagles have nothing to stop him.
Final score prediction?
Bell: Call me crazy, buuuuut … I like the Eagles, better roster, better coaches. Eagles 33, Falcons 27.
Van Arsdall: Eagles 31, Falcons 28.
Koob: Winning on the road is the toughest thing to do in the NFL. The Eagles win, but they only do it by committing to the run and Wentz remains composed.
Eagles cover (+1.5 for those interested) and win 24-21.
Gallen: I think the Falcons are a playoff-worthy team. I actually believe they sneak this one out after a really bad effort last week. Falcons win 28-26.
Wheeler: Eagles 35, Falcons 31.