PHILADELPHIA — The Eagles and Falcons have grown quite familiar with each other over the past couple years. This is the third time in four years the two teams have met in the regular season. In the one year they didn’t, they met in the playoffs.
So this will be the fourth time in four years the two teams have met. There’s some familiarity here. And these seven Eagles will need to draw on that Sunday to help the Eagles to a victory.
WR Nelson Agholor
In Week 1, DeSean Jackson and Alshon Jeffery were the headliners for Philadelphia. Nelson Agholor was a bit of an afterthought with two catches on five targets for 11 yards. But with the number of weapons the Eagles have on offense, it can easily be Agholor’s turn. Atlanta plays primarily Cover 3 defense, which allows short passes underneath. Agholor was targeted 10 times and had eight catches — albeit for only 33 yards — in the season opener last year. If he can bust a big play with the ball in his hands, it would go a long way for the Eagles.
CB Ronald Darby
The Falcons have targeted star wide receiver Julio Jones with passes 51 times in the past three meetings with the Eagles. Last September, he had 10 catches for 169 yards. But Jones hasn’t found the end zone in any of those games, so part of the task likely will fall to Ronald Darby to help that streak continue. Darby helped break up a potential game-winning touchdown pass to Jones in the opener.
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CB Rasul Douglas
Rasul Douglas will need to rebound after getting burned twice — once for a touchdown — in the opener. He’ll rotate with Darby and Sidney Jones, but if he’s on the field, he could be a target for the Falcons, especially if he is matched up with Jones or Mohamed Sanu. If the Eagles cover better, the pass rush can be more effective, or so defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz says, but that requires Douglas to take a step forward.
DE Brandon Graham
Rookie Kaleb McGary is the nominal starter at right tackle for the Falcons, but coach Dan Quinn indicated that Ty Sambrailo will rotate into the lineup, too. That means that Brandon Graham will get two different looks rushing off the left end, including a green rookie, though he’s a first-round pick. Graham was able to get some pressure last week, so he could have a prime opportunity against a rookie.
S Malcolm Jenkins
The Eagles have had plenty of success against Falcons MVP quarterback Matt Ryan in the past three meetings. They’ve held him to a 73.07 passer rating and forced some uncharacteristic mistakes. The Eagles will need to do that again, and Malcolm Jenkins should play a key role. The veteran safety is the quarterback of the defense, and it’ll be his job to help make sure that the aforementioned Douglas and Darby don’t get gashed by the Falcons wide receivers.
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C Jason Kelce
The Eagles are expecting Mercedes-Benz Stadium to be loud. The past three wins against the Falcons have come in the confines of Lincoln Financial Field, so things will be a little different here. And while quarterback Carson Wentz is in charge with the silent count and the like, center Jason Kelce has to make the protection calls. Falcons defensive tackle Grady Jarrett is a load in the middle, so he’ll have his hands full.
LT Jason Peters
The Minnesota Vikings had some success against the Falcons last week with running back Dalvin Cook bouncing plays outside. Miles Sanders, Jordan Howard and Darren Sproles all have the skill set to make similar plays, so it’ll be up to Jason Peters and right tackle Lane Johnson to help keep the Falcons edge rushers at bay and let the runners get to the second level. Cook had 21 carries for 111 yards and two touchdowns. That 5.29 yards per carry mark looks pretty tantalizing.
Daniel Gallen covers the Philadelphia Eagles for PennLive. He can be reached at [email protected]. You can follow him on Twitter and Facebook. Follow PennLive’s Philadelphia Eagles coverage on Twitter, Facebook and YouTube.
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