Editor's note: Archer's Take is a weekly series in which Falcons analyst Dave Archer provides insight and analysis of each Falcons game.
Julio’s game-winning touchdown was the perfect call executed perfectly
Julio Jones’ game-winning touchdown was a really well designed and well executed play, a timely call. Philly ran a lot of zero blitz, by that I mean they don’t have anybody in the backend to defend other than the guy you are locked on. The Eagles ran a ton of zero blitz and had some success throughout the game. But Ryan had hit them down the field on some deep throws, but in this situation the best play you could possibly go to is a jail-break screen.
While they had some success coming after quarterback, the Eagles decided to blitz on fourth down. Ryan checked to the tunnel screen, which allowed the rush to come through on the play side. Jake Matthews makes a quick fake pass set, steps right by defensive end Brandon Graham and steps outside to block the first force out there. Mohamed Sanu does a really good job by not going immediately to block Eagles cornerback Rasul Douglas who was covering Julio, but goes towards Avonte Maddox. That held up Maddox for Matthews to come in for a physical block and allowed Sanu to block Douglas. The design was cool in one way, but the execution was off the charts and was perfectly blocked.
Tackling was key to this game, and Keanu Neal drove that point home
On the fourth down play to seal the game, I had an idea that Zach Ertz was going to be the intended receiver. He mostly had matchups with a linebacker or safety on him throughout the game. He got right to the sticks and that is on him. A lot of times the route depth matches the timing of when you have to get the ball out. Ertz got to whatever depth he thought he needed to get to, turned around and Keanu Neal made an excellent tackle.
The Eagles force the ball to Ertz and tried to get the ball to Sproles once and went back to Ertz – I believe nobody from the Atlanta defense was fooled by the play call. Keanu made a good solid tackle at the point to put him on the ground for the stop. Tackling was the overall takeaway from the Falcons defense. This was a short passing attack game – the Eagles had planned to throw mostly horizontal in their passing attack. Therefore, if the defense tackles well, the Eagles would have to orchestrate a number of plays to score. Teams while most likely make a mistake, which can lead to them not moving the chains and will result in a punting situation.
Desmond Trufant’s best training camp is coming to life on gameday
I believe Desmond Trufant had a really good camp. I had the chance to call every game of his career and I believe this is by far the best training camp he’s had – certainly his best since his injury and trying to get back on the field a couple years ago. This was cool game for him because the ball was thrown to him to where he needed to make the play, he didn’t do that last year. He worked extremely hard this offseason on catching the football, getting his eyes on the ball and being able to make the quick reaction.
The one play that stood out to me was when the Falcons came with a pass rush and Trufant was where he was supposed to be in the seam, splitting two receivers who were going up the field. The ball was under thrown and he was tracking the ball in the air while he was running, slid and caught the ball on the ground for the interception. Those are just plays that Trufant didn’t make last season.
Falcons unleashed a relentless pass rush and it had impact beyond the number of sacks
The Eagles starting offensive line is very well decorated, but Atlanta was really relentless when it came to the pass rush. The Falcons ran a lot of stunts up front that the Eagles were unable to handle at times.
Adrian Clayborn and Grady Jarrett were both getting after it with their pass rushes. The best way to describe the night for Carson Wentz was under siege all night. It was one of those nights for Wentz where he could just never be too comfortable and that was due to Atlanta’s pass rush. Takk McKinley also came away with some key plays and brought that needed energy on defense.
Julio scored two touchdowns, and cleared a path for a third
Calvin Ridley quietly got after the Eagle’s secondary on a lot of plays, but the post route was the most effective. If you go back and look at the play, once again – Julio Jones drags the corner and the safety out of the middle of the field while running a go route. The defender on that side is shallow and with Cal’s speed he went over the top of the defender on the post route with a corner outside of him. So now Ryan has a place to throw the football and Cal simply goes up and makes the catch.
This is a number one draft pick, elite receiver going up to make a play and I believe that is all you need to say about Calvin, that’s who he is. There’s not a lot of teams in the league where you can safely say there are three No. 1 receivers. Mohamed Sanu does a lot of work that usually doesn’t get credit for. He made a number of plays and catches underneath, stiff armed guys and picked up first downs. But Cal has the ability to track the football, go get it and make a play.
Eagles cover zero forces risks, but requires caution
The biggest issue Atlanta had in this one was the three interceptions by Matt Ryan. Whenever you play a team that blitzes and plays zero coverage, you are probably going to have to live with a lower completion percentage, but you are also going to get a chance to torch them down the field with big plays. You are going to have to put the ball in harm’s way at times. He got hit on two plays – the first interception, he got hit while releasing the throw and just didn’t get enough air on it.
The second interception, he’s throwing the ball to Austin Hooper, he gets hit underneath his arm and the ball stays high. And the throw to Sanu was just a bad throw. Matt’s just going have to compartmentalize and study the game film to understand when he will be able to take those shots. It will be tough for Atlanta to have a successful season with 3 picks thrown in the game. Fortunately, Matt threw three touchdowns as well. So he simply has to find a way to take care of the football.