The Atlanta Falcons’ 26-24 win over the Philadelphia Eagles Monday night in the Georgia Dome wasn’t a perfect game by any means, nor is it likely to be the finished product of either team’s 2015 roster. But it does give us a decent barometer for where the Falcons are right now, new head coach and all.
Here are five takeaways from Atlanta’s Week 1 win. Be sure to let me know what you thought of the performance as well.
(Also read: 2015 Atlanta Falcons preview)
1. The Dan Quinn era started on a positive note, but …
After leading 20-3 at halftime, the Falcons essentially folded in the second half like they did many times during the past regime. We had seen it before, and we were sure this game, like so many in the past, would end with the opposing team celebrating a come-from-behind win.
For all the talk about how this was a step in the right direction, if Cody Parkey’s 44-yard field goal late in the fourth quarter was true, and the Falcons were unable to come back and win, the postgame discussion would have been very different. Quinn will need to figure out a way to keep this team from folding late in games or they won’t win too often this season.
We were dangerously close to seeing that hypothetical situation come true on Monday night.
2. Tevin Coleman looks like a legitimate NFL running back
We haven’t seen an Atlanta running back that runs as hard as Coleman since Michael Turner was in his heyday. In his first pro game, Coleman ran the ball 20 times for 80 yards – 20 of which were picked up in a single scramble.
Several of Coleman’s runs were sustained despite very small openings created along the offensive line that gave him virtually no room for error. He continued to fight after contact, using his size to pick up extra yards. Coleman appears to have all the skills to be a good NFL running back if the line can create holes for him to work with.
3. Vic Beasley looked stellar at times
The rookie defensive end’s stats look puny – three tackles, one pass deflection, one hit on the quarterback – but Beasley was big at times. Lining up against veteran offensive lineman Jason Peters, Beasley was sure to have his work cut out for him, and he responded quite well.
Eagles quarterback Sam Bradford was uneasy for most of the first half because of the pressure Beasley and other Falcons put on him. His passes were all over the place, as he was rarely able to set his feet, take his time and deliver a decent throw.
But in the second half, Peters seemed to adjust and keep Beasley away from his quarterback. Nearly every play, I watched Peters push Beasley to the outside and continue to run him away from Bradford, keeping his blind side unharmed for the most part. That’s just part of the game, and the rookie will learn and get better.
4. Julio Jones embarrassed a really good cornerback
If you didn’t already know, Julio Jones is a really good receiver. His performance Monday night – 9 catches, 141 yards, 2 touchdowns – likely won the game for the Falcons. But the way he treated Eagles cornerback Byron Maxwell was just rude.
In the offseason, Philadelphia signed Maxwell to a really big contract: $63 million, $22 million of it guaranteed, according to Deadspin. He was part of that vaunted Seattle Seahawks secondary that had been to two consecutive Super Bowls.
But on Monday night, Maxwell was all alone, and there was nothing he could do to stop Jones.
5. Fatigue was a real problem on defense
If the Eagles looked unstoppable in the second half, it’s because there wasn’t a defense on the other side of the ball that was ready to stop them. Because Chip Kelly runs a fast-paced offense, once it gets rolling, it’s hard to stop.
Although some blamed poor conditioning on the Falcons defense for why they faded so hard in the second half, I don’t believe that was the case. Kelly just started running his offense the way he wanted, and the Eagles’ offensive line stepped up to the challenge, giving Bradford plenty of time to throw.
The good news is not many NFL offenses run Kelly’s style, so now that the Falcons have weathered this storm, they should be fine.
Photo: AP/Brynn Anderson