The Philadelphia Eagles were considered underdogs heading into their Week 1 matchup with the Atlanta Falcons.
Now, the Eagles are no strangers to being labeled underdogs. If you remember, back during their 2017 Super Bowl-winning season, they weren’t favored in any of the three playoff games they played. However, this year’s team had a bit of a different vibe.
Doug Pederson was fired. Carson Wentz got traded. The Eagles didn’t sign any massive free agents, and their new head coach (Nick Sirianni) had never called plays during an NFL game before. Throw in the fact that it was Jalen Hurts’ first year as a full-time starter in the NFL, and most experts had the Eagles pinned for a rough Week 1 experience.
However, that wasn’t the case.
The Philadelphia Eagles always prioritize the trenches
For as long as football has been around, the importance of the “trenches” has been emphasized. Having the biggest, strongest, and meanest guys on the offensive and defensive line has almost always led to wins in the NFL.
The Eagles’ general manager, Howie Roseman, lives and dies by this philosophy. He’s prioritized using high draft picks on offensive and defensive linemen and never shies away from handing out a massive contract to a well-performing trench member.
Roseman signed defensive tackle Javon Hargrave to a $39 million deal in 2020 and gave left tackle Jordan Mailata a $64 million extension just a few days before the 2021 season began. Roseman loves him some big boys up front.
With all of this in mind, it was the Eagles’ staunch belief in their linemen that allowed them to coast to a dominant 32-6 blowout win against Atlanta. The Falcons’ linemen were simply no match.
Philadelphia dominated the line of scrimmage
It was an absolute bloodbath for the Falcons at the line of scrimmage on Sunday. The Atlanta offensive line allowed six tackles for loss and three sacks. Matt Ryan spent most of the second half lying on his back while the Falcons’ running backs struggled to find open grass.
The before-mentioned Hargrave, in particular, had an impressive game. He recorded two of the Eagles’ three sacks.
On the flip side, Philadelphia’s offensive line only allowed one sack. Hurts stood upright in the pocket, navigating freely while keeping his eyes downfield.
Despite all of Philly’s doubters heading into the Week 1 matchup, it ended up being a comfortable victory for the Eagles. Winning the battle in the trenches is almost always a recipe for major success.
What to expect from the Philadelphia Eagles moving forward
It’s unclear how sustainable this level of success is moving forward for Philadelphia. Atlanta is an awful football team, and Hurts is still largely unproven. In fact, most of his pass attempts during Week 1 were short-to-intermediate. Most successful teams in the NFL need a QB who can connect downfield consistently.
However, the team’s strong line play will unquestionably make life easier for the Eagles. Hurts will have time to complete said deep passes, while the defensive line will make life uncomfortable for opposing QBs.
The Eagles might not be realistic contenders in 2021, but they’ve already sent a big-time message to the rest of the NFL: It pays to have good linemen.
All stats courtesy of ESPN.