Depending on who you ask, the Atlanta Falcons will either face the same defensive schemes that Philadelphia has been running all season long, or some new wrinkles mixed in.
According to this AJC piece, the Falcons don’t expect the Eagles to do anything out of the ordinary, anything unusual in comparison to what they’ve been doing so far this season.
It really only makes sense. Philly has came up with a specific scheme and defensive philosophy in the offseason, implemented it in training camp, and used it through the pre-season and the first six weeks of this season. Given the style of players that the Eagles have on defense, it really wouldn’t make too much sense for them to completely change their philosophy. Philly will likely continue running out a Wide-9 defensive front and lots of man coverage, and mostly daring teams to beat them.
But we’re not getting the exact same message from Philadelphia. In this piece from the Inquirer, several Eagles players made comments that Bowles was going to keep this team from ‘[being] predictable anymore’. They expect Bowles to bring a few new wrinkles to the team, such as switching from man coverage to zone coverage from time to time. Simple things that they probably do already, but may do slightly more often.
Apparently Philly isn’t messing with its defensive front. The Wide-9 that the Eagles use isn’t going to change. They have the perfect personnel to use it, and that’s one thing they will not change. It should be interesting to see how an inflexibility up front will mesh with a new flexibility in defensive philosophy at the linebacker and secondary levels.
I wrote about this last week. The Falcons will not have film on whatever changes Bowles may make to the defense, but given the philosophy of the team and what they are trying to accomplish it wouldn’t make sense to do anything drastically different. They may, and it may catch the Falcons by surprise; but it could backfire. Philadelphia hasn’t practiced any new schemes, and it could take time for any new plays or schemes to take hold in the Eagles locker room. Hopefully the Falcons will be able to take advantage of any and all confusion from the Eagles coaching staff, and dole out significant damage offensively. We will all watch with anxious anticipation to see what ends up happening on Sunday.