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Falcons Outmuscled By Tough Eagles’ Side – Week 10 Recap

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The Atlanta Falcons were dominated in the trenches as Ryan Mathews ripped through the defense for two touchdowns and the Philadelphia Eagles claimed a 24-15 victory.

Having navigated a tough schedule, Falcons fans would have been forgiven for being optimistic about a game against a struggling Eagles side before heading into their bye week.

Doug Pederson’s side had lost their last two games and had struggled to move the ball on offense, but some impressive blocking from their offensive line was enough to rejuvenate Ryan Mathews and keep them in contention for a wild card spot in the NFC.

Dan Quinn will be disappointed that his Falcons team, who he has constructed to fit his “fast and physical” vision, were second best in both aspects for the majority of the game. They still lead the division at 6-4, but it’s got to be seen as an opportunity to extend their lead missed.


It’s difficult to say too much about the offense due to the fact that they seemed to spend so little time actually on the field. The Eagles ground out first downs and were able to control the clock, possessing the ball for 38 minutes and 10 seconds, which was almost twice as long as the Falcons, who were only in possession for 21 minutes and 50 seconds.

Matt Ryan didn’t play badly and was let down by some crucial drops, most notably a pair of 4th quarter passes which the normally clutch Julio Jones let squirm through his hands that would have given the Falcons first downs. That said, Ryan has shown that he is at his best when spreading the ball around and he looked much more like his 2015 self on Sunday, staring Jones down and trying to force him the ball when there may have been open players.

The running game, spearheaded by Devonta Freeman, looked good when given the opportunity but was largely underused. Given how few yards after catch the Eagles were allowing and how well they restricted the Falcons in the passing game, it perhaps would have made sense to give one of the league’s most elusive runners more than just 12 carries, especially considering the game script. Even when the Falcons were ahead in the 4th quarter, they continued to force the pass and left too much time on the clock, which the Eagles ultimately exploited.

The offensive line, which, in a breath of fresh air, had looked solid for the majority of the season, struggled to contain Fletcher Cox, Brandon Graham and Connor Barwin, who provided a constant stream of pressure. Matt Ryan was pressured 17 times during the game, with right guard Chris Chester allowing 7 of them on just 37 pass protection snaps. Chester was a good stopgap signing for the Falcons in 2015, but he’s in the twilight of his career and the bye week could give a perfect opportunity for the Falcons to see what they have in rookie Wes Schweitzer.

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Going into the game, the focus was on star cornerback Desmond Trufant’s injury and how inexperienced second year player Jalen Collins would fill in. The game didn’t provide many answers, as the Eagles did the vast majority of their damage through the center of the field.

Neither Collins or Robert Alford were challenged on the perimeter; instead, the Eagles looked to exploit the Jordan Matthews vs. Brian Poole battle in the slot and largely succeeded. While Matthews’ 6 catches for 73 yards may not look like top level production, quarterback Carson Wentz was able to rely on him as a safety blanket of sorts with Matthews moving the chains in pressure situations.

Ultimately, the damage was done on the ground. The Eagles’ stable of running backs, lead by Ryan Mathews rushed for over 200 yards behind a dominant offensive line. Center Jason Kelce, who had struggled for large parts of the season, imposed his will and opened up huge holes, looking far more like he did in 2014 when he made the Pro Bowl.

The Falcons’ defensive line struggled throughout, looking like a unit in need of investment in the offseason. Despite his ineffectiveness on Sunday, Grady Jarrett has been a bright spot since being drafted in the 5th round in 2015, but it wouldn’t be a surprise if he had a new partner at defensive tackle with Ra’Shede Hageman, Jonathan Babineaux and Tyson Jackson all looking as if their roster spots for 2017 are vulnerable.

Pass rusher Vic Beasley looks to have taken the next step this season, with a pair of sacks taking him to 9.5 for the season and the Falcons will be delighted with his progress and, in particular, his ability to force fumbles when he gets to the quarterback. The Falcons will be looking for Dwight Freeney to show the form that he did prior to injury and support him down the stretch.


The Philadelphia Eagles had a clear game plan and they executed it perfectly. They knew that they had to keep Matt Ryan and company off the field and they did just that with a tough, physical display.

The offense was held to their lowest points total of the season by far and their remaining schedule features a strong slate of running backs. David Johnson, Spencer Ware, Todd Gurley, Carlos Hyde, Jonathan Stewart and Mark Ingram are all capable of shouldering heavy workloads and the Falcons will hope that the Eagles haven’t found the blueprint to victory against them.

With the Panthers defeating the Saints to kick off week 11, the Falcons will be able to enjoy a weekend off and will hope that, when they travel to Arizona to face the Cardinals, they will do so with Tevin Coleman, Desmond Trufant and others at full health.