Good morning, Eagles fans. Week 2 of the NFL season is in full swing, and the Eagles continue their preparation for Sunday night’s road game against the Atlanta Falcons. The team will practice at 1:30 p.m. today and players will be available afterward.
— EJ Smith (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Falcons coach Dan Quinn and the rest of the organization are all too familiar with the Eagles, and vice versa. The two teams are going into their fifth game against each other in as many seasons, which is rare for two teams not in the same division.
The Eagles have won the last three matchups, including the NFC divisional round game en route to winning Super Bowl LII.
After seeing all that midnight green over the years, Quinn has developed an appreciation for Eagles defensive tackle Fletcher Cox.
“Fletcher’s been a guy, man, we’ve really admired his style and attitude and how he plays,” Quinn said on a teleconference Wednesday. “Inside, when you have a guy who has the kind of quickness that he does, that’s when it becomes difficult matchups, whether it’s against a center or a guard. And then when you combine that with the power [he has], that’s what gives him uniqueness.”
The Falcons will be without starting right guard and 2019 first-round pick Chris Lindstrom for the foreseeable future after he suffered a foot injury against the Minnesota Vikings in Week 1, further complicating the team’s plan for blocking Cox.
Quinn’s familiarity with some of the Eagles’ players goes beyond just the scouting they’ve done while game-planning, though. In the last two drafts, the Eagles and Falcons have both been toward the back of the first round, and therefore have scouted a lot of the same players.
In last April’s draft, the Falcons drafted an offensive tackle, a running back, and a wide receiver, which led to them taking extensive looks at Eagles rookies Andre Dillard, Miles Sanders, and J.J. Arcega-Whiteside.
Even with Derek Barnett, whom the Eagles chose No. 14 overall in the 2017 draft, the Falcons did their due diligence. Despite having a pick in the later part of the round, they brought the Tennessee edge rusher in for a private workout.
“A number of the guys that are there, we had chances to look at and evaluate, too,” Quinn said. “What we saw [with Dillard], at that position, playing left tackle, he’s got the quickness and the length to defeat the guys flying off the edge. That’s the trait that we saw first.
“We felt, probably like they did, that this is a guy that has all the traits to play left tackle in our league.”
Great question. First, if you want to dive deep into what went wrong on Sunday, read Jeff McLane’s film breakdown here. The Eagles defensive line and its ability to put pressure on the quarterback is a strength. They have one of the best defensive tackles in football in Cox, and they have solid depth at defensive end. I would give it a few more games before jumping to too many conclusions about the line’s ability to get home. Remember, a lot of these guys saw limited preseason time — if any — and it will likely take some time for them to get back into their full form.