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Week 2 Game Recap: Philadelphia Eagles 20, Atlanta Falcons 24


What you need to know

Philadelphia Eagles

The Eagles lost a tough road battle to the Falcons, a game which featured a roster-clearing number of skill position injuries. Dallas Goedert, Alshon Jeffery, and DeSean Jackson all missed most of the game (and did not return) and Carson Wentz even missed time but did return to action. Miles Sanders took a step forward in Philadelphia’s intent for him as their starter and Nelson Agholor, by necessity, had one of his bigger games in recent memory. Carson Wentz battled, ultimately to the loss, through tough circumstances as the Eagles look to rebound at home against the Lions in Week 3.

Atlanta Falcons

Atlanta lost starting right guard Caleb McGary in the middle of the second quarter to a knee injury but McGary returned in the fourth quarter. Despite the injury, Atlanta’s offensive line played slightly better despite a heavy Eagles pass rush and Matt Ryan found Julio Jones and Calvin Ridley for multiple big plays, including a fantastic fourth-down screen play to Julio Jones where Jake Matthews redeemed himself from last week’s debacle with a great block to set up Jones for the 54-yard score that would be the game winner. Ryan is beginning to trust Ridley enough to target him deep between two defenders. Ito Smith and Devonta Freeman and both had strong moments. Freeman out-touched Smith 14-6 this week.

Philadelphia Eagles

QB Carson Wentz, 75 offensive snaps, Pass: 25 - 43 - 231 - 1 TD / 2 INT, Rush: 3 - 3 - 1
Wentz missed the late second quarter but returned in the third against the Falcons, a strange game where the Eagles were gutted by in-game injuries of DeSean Jackson, Alshon Jeffery, and Dallas Goedert. Wentz battled but was questionable with his accuracy throughout the game. Wentz had two interceptions, one largely a punt as it floated downfield on third down, with the other an ugly decision to no one in particular. Despite being down by multiple scores in the second half and a shell of their typical weapons, Wentz brought the Eagles back with multiple touchdowns including a goal line laser to Nelson Agholor on fourth down and a goal line sneak to take the lead with three minutes left. More than Wentz’s own injury status, the health of his supporting cast is the watch list heading into Week 3.

RB Miles Sanders, 35 offensive snaps, Rush: 10 - 28 - 0, Rec: 3 - 9 - 0 (4 targets)
Sanders’ touch total was similar to his Week 1 debut, but the intent of the Eagles to have Sanders moving towards clear lead back status was different in the Week 2 loss in Atlanta. Sanders saw time as the hurry-up back late in the first half and showed nice cuts on a third-and-short conversion. It has been tough sledding for the rookie through two games, partly due to offensive line play and partly due to Sanders’ vision not optimizing lanes when available. Sanders has shown clear upside with an evolving at his best with Jordan Howard ideally as a power-centric closer role and Darren Sproles sprinkled in for ancillary snaps.

RB Jordan Howard, 18 offensive snaps, Rush: 8 - 18 - 0, Rec: 1 - 8 - 0 (1 targets)
Howard struggled in Week 2 after bludgeoning Washington in Week 1 with his after-contact acumen. Howard added a dump-off reception to his rushing role, one which included a nice cut on the inside which was called back by penalty. Howard is the clear secondary option to developing rookie Miles Sanders.

RB Darren Sproles, 28 offensive snaps, Rec: 2 - 5 - 0 (3 targets)
Sproles barely played against Atlanta, a stark drop from his active role in Week 1. Sproles converted a third down in the closing minutes as his notable contribution but also dropped a pass. With Miles Sanders and Jordan Howard clearly ahead of Sproles in the backfield pecking order, Sproles is relying on optimal targets to log a decent game going forward.

WR Nelson Agholor, 78 offensive snaps, Rec: 8 - 107 - 1 (11 targets)
With DeSean Jackson and Alshon Jeffery in-game injuries, Agholor was thrust into a critical role against Atlanta. Agholor was peppered with targets (11) on a myriad of different routes. Agholor controlled a laser fourth-down touchdown pass from Carson Wentz and kept the Eagles alive in the closing minutes with a fourth-and-long heave downfield by Wentz. Agholor took a huge hit on another end zone target to break up a potential touchdown and dropped a long sideline target in the close game as missed opportunities. Agholor’s viability is connected to the health of Jackson and Jeffery in future weeks, but Agholor performed admirably in necessity Week 2.

WR Alshon Jeffery, 6 offensive snaps
Jeffery left the game with a calf injury.

WR DeSean Jackson, 11 offensive snaps
Jackson left the game with a groin injury.

TE Zach Ertz, 81 offensive snaps, Rec: 8 - 72 - 0 (16 targets)
Ertz easily led the Eagles in targets (33% market share) against the Falcons as they lost DeSean Jackson, Alshon Jeffery, and Dallas Goedert in-game to injury. Ertz mired through tight coverage and defensive attention overall, however, as he rarely found open field at, or after, the catch point. Ertz did not find any touchdown opportunities but did convert a two-point attempt. On the biggest play of the game, Ertz was stopped just short of the sticks on fourth down to end the Eagles’ last gasp comeback effort.


Atlanta Falcons

QB Matt Ryan, 66 offensive snaps, Pass: 27 - 43 - 320 - 3 TD / 3 INT, Rush: 2 - 3 - 0
Ryan faced pressure throughout the first quarter but it wasn’t as intense as the Vikings game. He managed to move Atlanta downfield with throws to Austin Hooper, Calvin Ridley, and Mohamed Sanu that led to a field goal early. Fletcher Cox nearly intercepted Ryan in the middle of the second quarter on a zone blitz. Ryan followed up with a deep fade to Julio Jones for 27 yards. Soon after, Ryan lost starting right tackle Caleb McGary in the middle of the second quarter to a knee injury but Ty Sambrallo held up in relief. Ryan overthrew two receivers in a row on targets in the endzone to Ridley and then Justin Gage on a post route. This led to a 50-yard field goal attempt that Matt Bryant missed. Still, Ryan showed emotional resilience. He delivered a good pump fake to set up a completion Ridley for the second of two passes to the receiver to get across midfield. A few plays later, Ryan found Ridley for a deep post for a 34-yard score. With 0:41 left in the half, Ryan threw the ball behind Sanu and Sidney Jones intercepted the pass. However, Ryan found Jones for the score on the third play of the third quarter on a designed roll and scramble drill in the back of the end zone. Ryan underthrew a deep go route up the right sideline while under pressure against an all-out blitz, leading to his second interception and a return into Atlanta territory. Ryan threw an interception in the end zone on a red zone play at the end of the third quarter when he tried to fit the ball into coverage he didn’t see because he was throwing over a line that had compressed Ryan’s pocket and a defender hit his arm during the release. Ryan threw off his back foot to Freeman on a third and three late in the game while fading away from pressure. Late in the game, Ryan connected with Jones on a screen pass for a game-winning, 54-yard play.

RB Devonta Freeman, 41 offensive snaps, Rush: 11 - 22 - 0, Rec: 3 - 42 - 0 (4 targets)
He picked up nine yards on his first two plays, including six on outside zone where he veered away from penetration and cut downhill. He earned another nine on a reverse pivot pitch before leaving the game for a breather. He returned during the drive but tight end Luke Stocker missed his crack-back block and Brandon Graham dropped Freeman in the backfield for a loss of six. He another lost five on a run to the left tackle where Graham also penetrated deep into the backfield. He then earned a minimal gain on a check-down thrown with Ryan under pressure, forcing a punt. Freeman took a shovel pass on the opening play of the second half for 29 yards to get inside the five. Freeman earned a nice run on first down early in the fourth quarter, spinning off contact at the edge of the line and earning four. Freeman began a late-game drive with a slant from a wide spot for nine yards.

RB Ito Smith, 25 offensive snaps, Rush: 4 - 32 - 0, Rec: 2 - 13 - 0 (3 targets)
He weaved his way for a first down on a 2nd and 1 during the first drive after Freeman earned four carries early on. Smith dropped a high throw in the flat on 2nd and 16 during the first drive after taking a hit. He earned a quick five yards leaking from the backfield to begin the second drive with the offense backed up at its one yard-line. Smith later weaved his way through traffic for four yards on a screen pass late in the second quarter. Taking over for Freeman inside the 5 after Freeman’s 29-yard shovel-pas-and-runs to open the third quarter, Smith had the best run of the night late in the third quarter on a draw play where he made multiple defenders miss.

WR Calvin Ridley, 42 offensive snaps, Rec: 8 - 105 - 1 (10 targets)
He earned a first down on 3rd and 5 on an out to the opposite side of the field. Ridley dropped a diving go route off a double move in the end zone on 2nd and 9. Ridley made the first man miss after running a short out and got the first down in the middle of the second quarter. He then caught a route crossing the middle for a first down and took a hard hit to his hip on the play that forced Ridley to leave the game (on his own volition) for a break. He scored a few plays later on a deep post where he sold the dig effectively to the coverage to run past. He worked back to the ball with an excellent extension to the ball over the middle for a first down with a minute left. Late in the game, Ridley nearly pulled down a post route between two defenders in the end zone.

WR Julio Jones, 54 offensive snaps, Rec: 5 - 106 - 2 (10 targets)
Rasul Douglas tightly covered Jones throughout the night, thanks to the added confidence of having a safety playing over top with help. Douglas broke up a short out during the first drive and a slant late in the game. Jones and Ryan also had trouble connecting early for other reasons early on. Jones dropped a high-thrown skinny post on third down at the end of the first quarter after Rodney McCloud knocked the ball loose. However, Jones and Ryan rebounded. He caught the skinny post during the first quarter on a 1st and 20. He then made an excellent leaping grab at the right sideline for 27 yards, getting both feet in bounds. Jones came alive in the second half, scoring on the third play of the third quarter on a designed roll and a scramble drill in the back of the end zone and later, a receiver screen on fourth and three and found open field for a 54-yard game winner.

WR Mohamed Sanu, 55 offensive snaps, Rec: 4 - 16 - 0 (7 targets)
He made two men miss on a quick throw-out during the initial drive to earn a first down near midfield. He recovered a Luke Stocker fumble late in the third quarter and later made two men miss to earn a first down on a short pass later in the drive. Sanu worked back to the ball late in the game over the middle to set up a third and three.

WR Russell Gage, 9 offensive snaps (1 targets)
He dropped a slant thrown high and behind him during the second drive of the first quarter.

TE Austin Hooper, 50 offensive snaps, Rec: 4 - 34 - 0 (6 targets)
He earned a first down on a quick out route on the second offensive play of the game against tight coverage. Hooper’s second catch was a seam route with a half roll to the right by Matt Ryan to create the open area. His next catch came on a flat route with a little more than a minute left for seven yards. Hooper ran around the first man on a tight end screen, but then took a huge hit at the end of a four-yard gain

TE Luke Stocker, 30 offensive snaps, Rec: 1 - 4 - 0 (1 targets)
He fumbled a play action reception late in the third quarter and Sanu made a great effort to recover it. He also missed a crack back on a pitch play that led to a six-yard loss early in the game on a carry for Freeman