Falcons vs Eagles: Five questions with Inside the Iggles


Ahead of the Atlanta Falcons’ season opener with the Philadelphia Eagles on Monday night, I spoke with Inside the Iggles editor Anthony DiBona to get an Eagles perspective of the game. Here’s my five questions and his answers.

How has Sam Bradford looked through preseason, and is he the man to lead Chip Kelly’s offense?

AD: Sam Bradford has looked outstanding during preseason. Although he only played in just two of the team’s four preseason games, missing the first and fourth games. Bradford showed more than enough in the two games he did play in, especially against the Green Bay Packers during the team’s “dress rehearsal.” Bradford put on a show in Lambeau Field, completing 10 of 10 passes for 121 yards and three touchdowns in the only three drives he took the field for.

Regarding whether or not Bradford is the man to lead Chip Kelly’s offense, I absolutely think he could be. It obviously just comes down to his health, which hasn’t been a problem thus far. Considering his ability to get rid of the ball quickly and accurately, that’s what Kelly cherishes most. If Bradford can stay healthy for a majority of the upcoming season, he could easily be one of the NFL’s best quarterbacks in 2015.

What should the Falcons be worried about in this game?

AD: The Falcons struggled to run the ball effectively during the preseason and I believe that trend will continue against the Eagles’ dangerous front seven. Considering the Falcons have basically pieced together their starting offensive line throughout the offseason, it could be tough for them to match-up with the Eagles up front on Monday night.

It’ll also be interesting to see how the Eagles’ new-look secondary matches up with the Falcons talented group of wide receivers and quarterback Matt Ryan, that will be a huge test for Philadelphia to start the season.

So while I’m confident that the Eagles’ front seven will be able to slow down the running game and get some pressure on Ryan. I’m much less confident in the team’s secondary being able to somehow stop Julio Jones. It’ll certainly be interesting to see if their free agent jewel, cornerback Byron Maxwell, will shadow Jones wherever he lines up throughout the night. That may be the biggest one-on-one match-up of the entire game.

Which Eagles should Falcons fans look out for?

AD: Everyone knows the big names to watch out for so I’ll give you one player on each side of the ball for Falcons’ fans to pay attention to. Up first is second-year wide receiver Josh Huff. Although he failed to make an impression during the preseason that many were expecting, Huff should be one of the team’s starting outside wide receivers on Monday night.

Huff had a strong training camp and seemed to build a relationship with Bradford. Considering his size and speed (basically built like a running back), Huff is an intriguing receiving option that could have a big game to open the season.

On the defensive side of the ball, there is safety Walter Thurmond. That’s right, the former Seahawks and Giants cornerback now starts at safety for the Eagles and he’s had one hell of a preseason. Thurmond managed to intercept two passes during the preseason, despite playing just 62 total snaps. It’ll be fun to watch Thurmond continue his transition to a new-found position that could ultimately pay off big time for both his bank account and the Eagles as a team.

What are your keys to the game?

AD: There are quite a few keys to Monday night’s game. For the Eagles, it will be the play of quarterback Sam Bradford and their secondary. First off, the Eagles’ offensive line will have to keep Bradford clean and upright for the team’s offense to play at it’s highest level. Then on the defensive side of the ball, the Eagles’ new-look secondary will immediately be put to the test by Matt Ryan and star wide receiver Julio Jones. If they can slow down Atlanta’s passing attack, that’ll be a huge accomplishment.

For the Falcons, they’ll have to try and get pressure on Bradford early and often. Although he was able to pick apart the Packers’ defense, he struggled against the Ravens and that was likely due to some rust and also Baltimore’s ability to pressure Bradford. If the Falcons can disrupt Bradford’s timing, that will go a long way in potentially beating the Eagles. On offense, they’ll have to try and get the running game working so they can keep the Eagles’ high powered offense off the field.

Finally, who wins?

AD: Eagles win a close one, 34-30 in the Georgia Dome. It’ll come down to a last-minute effort by the Falcons but ultimately Connor Barwin gets a clutch batted down pass on a fourth and long attempt to close out the game.

Sam Bradford will prove he’s back and better than ever, completing more than 70 percent of his pass attempts while throwing for 300+ yards and three touchdowns. It’ll be a primetime quarterback duel as Matt Ryan will have just as many touchdowns as Bradford but will throw a costly interception.

Thanks to Anthony for speaking with us, and be sure to check out Inside the Iggles for Eagles coverage ahead of the game. Anthony and his staff do a great job of bringing us some of the best Eagles coverage on the web.

Next: Falcons vs Eagles: Tale of the tape

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