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September 07, 2018

Handing out 10 awards from the Eagles-Falcons game

The Philadelphia Eagles pulled out a simultaneously sloppy but thoroughly entertaining opening game against the Atlanta Falcons, and are now 1-0 to start the season. As always, we hand out 10 awards.

1) The 'Master Troll' Award: Doug Pederson

In the third quarter, with the Eagles badly needing a spark offensively, Pederson called "Philly Philly," which was the sequel to "Philly Special." It was a near-identical play to the one the New England Patriots ran against the Eagles in the Super Bowl, with the only exception being that the the Eagles were in 12 personnel, while the Pats were in 11 personnel.

Here's the version the Pats ran in the Super Bowl:

And here's the version the Eagles ran Thursday night.

That is simply awesome. Doug, take a bow.


2) The 'Get Well Soon' Award: Carson Wentz

Foles can certainly catch the football, but he had trouble throwing it. On the night, Foles was 19 of 34 for 117 yards (3.4 YPA), and a QB rating of 50.7. And he's lucky it wasn't worse, as Robert Alford somehow dropped a gift-wrapped INT, like Keanu Neal did a year ago in the playoffs.

3) The 'Home Dogs' Award: Vegas

The Eagles-Falcons line opened with the Eagles favored by 4.5 points. By the time the game had begun, it had swung all the way back the other way, with Falcons favored by 1. This time around, Lane Johnson didn't have time to break out his dog mask, but it's interesting that bettors continue to doubt this team, especially at home.

Going back to the 2016 season, if you take out the Eagles' meaningless Week 17 loss to the Dallas Cowboys last season, the Eagles have won 12 straight games at Lincoln Financial Field. In chart form:

 OpponentScore Win/Loss 
 Falcons18-12 Win 
 Vikings38-7 Win 
 Falcons15-10 Win 
 Cowboys6-0 Loss 
 Raiders19-10 Win 
 Bears31-3 Win 
 Broncos51-23 Win 
 49ers33-10 Win 
 Redskins34-24 Win 
 Cardinals34-7 Win 
 Giants27-24 Win 
 Cowboys27-13 Win 
 Giants24-19 Win 

In those games, the Eagles have outscored their opponents 351-168.

4) The 'He's Back' Award: Jordan Hicks

Jordan Hicks returned from a torn Achilles, and he didn't look at all like a player still hampered by that injury. On the night, he had 7 tackles, 1.5 sacks, a tackle for loss, and a pass breakup. Here he is running right through Devonta Freeman for one of his sacks.

If Hicks can stay healthy, he and Nigel Bradham can be one of the best linebacker duos in the NFL.

5) The 'Empty Stats' Award: Julio Jones

The last three times the Eagles have faced the Falcons, Julio Jones has put up huge numbers.

 Julio Jones vs. EaglesTargets Recs Yards TD 
Week  16 10 135 0 
 Division round, 2017 playoffs16 9 101 0 
Week 1, 2018 19 10 169 0 
 TOTAL51 29 405 0 

Despite Jones' big performances, the Falcons were unable to score more than 15 points in any of those games.

6) The 'Bail Out' Award: Derek Barnett

Barnett had two bad offsides penalties. 

The first negated a Chris Long sack on 3rd and Goal, giving the Falcons another shot at the end zone. The Eagles woud hold the Falcons to a field goal anyway.

The second negated a Fletcher Cox sack that would have ended a drive. The Eagles regrouped from that penalty when Rasul Douglas picked off Matt Ryan. Actually, on that drive, the Falcons might have tried a long field goal within Matt Bryant's range, so maybe Barnett's penalty was a blessing in disguise.

7) The 'NOOOOOOOOOOOO' Award: Tre Sullivan

With a ball just kind of bouncing around after a Falcons punt, Sullivan wandered a little too close, and the Falcons pushed him into it, resulting in a muffed punt, which Atlanta recovered. That was the most egregious of the many dumb errors the Eagles made Thursday night, which need to be cleaned up.

8) The 'Tiebreaker' Award: The Eagles' Future Playoff Seed

Yes, it's only Week 1 and talking about playoff seeding seems ridiculous, but when you're a team as stacked as the Eagles, the regular season goal should be home field advantage throughout the playoffs. This was such a potentially huge game in terms of tie-breaker implications.

  1. It was a game against an NFC Super Bowl contender that will give the Eagles a head-to-head advantage. 
  2. It's a game that will count toward the Eagles' NFC record, for general playoff tie-breaker purposes. 
  3. And, finally, it could also be an underrated tie-breaking differentiator in terms of record against "common opponents," of which the Eagles and Falcons have six.

I swear I'm not crazy for pointing this out.

9) The 'Beast Without Stats' Award: Fletcher Cox

Cox's stat line won't wow anyone. If you look at the box score, it will tell you that he had 2 tackles and a sack. Meh.

But he was clearly dominant all night long. He had 4 hits on the quarterback, he had a sack taken away, and he consistently pushed the pocket all night, which led to sacks for some of his teammates.

Cox looks like a different guy this year, and I think he is going to be a legitimate Defensive Player of the Year candidate. I'm looking forward to watching his play when the All-22 comes out.

10) The 'New Year' Award: The 2018 Eagles

On a night when the Eagles' Super Bowl banner was unfurled, it was almost fitting that the team wasn't on the field to see it. A rain delay forced the team inside, so they missed the festivities. That sort of jibes with the players' decision to have a large Super Bowl sign removed from the locker room this week, on the premise that it is a new year, and past accomplishments are exactly that.

The 2018 Eagles are off to a sloppy, but positive start. They're 1-0, with a few bad opponents on the horizon.

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