Patience might be a virtue, but it was an absolute necessity as the first Sunday of the 2015 regular season did not feature an Eagles game. Well, Eagles fans had to wait one more night to see their team take flight for the first time in the 2015 regular season. The wait is over. Almost.
Our live coverage begins this evening at 6 PM with a full hour of the Kickoff Show as Joe DeCamara and I will delve into the key matchups and we'll get the latest updates from the Georgia Dome. Kickoff is set for 7:10 PM on ESPN. You can always eschew the TV broadcast for the SportsRadio 94WIP feed with Merrill Reese and Mike Quick which can be heard on PhiladelphiaEagles.com as well as our app. Following the game, Ike Reese and I will break down the action on the Post-Game Show presented by Ricoh featuring Chip Kelly's live press conference.
Let me help you finish off the final hours before kickoff in the 5 Things to Know Today. The Eagles have won their last three Monday night contests. A win tonight will tie the team's longest MNF consecutive victories streak. The Eagles have also won six straight road openers including the last two that were on Monday Night Football.
1. Sam Bradford Is Ready For Prime Time
This is a chance to look back at some of the big storylines from the offseason. There were plenty of changes on both sides of the ball, but the one that will have the biggest impact on the 2015 season is the addition of quarterback Sam Bradford. After missing the past year and a half with ACL injuries, Bradford is set to make his return to regular season action for the first time since October 20, 2013.
Bradford was brilliant in the preseason guiding the Eagles to a touchdown on each of his four drives at quarterback. He is going against an Atlanta defense that ranked last in passing yards allowed in 2014. Bradford is also no stranger to the Georgia Dome. In the 2013 season, Bradford passed for 352 yards and three touchdowns against the Falcons.
How will Bradford fare in his regular season debut for the Eagles? It's one of the (many) things we're watching tonight.
2. Bradford Is Not In This Alone
Bradford is not the only new face on offense. The NFL's rushing champion, DeMarco Murray, joined his former college roommate in Philadelphia along with another Pro Bowl back in Ryan Mathews. How will the Eagles deploy the three-headed monster when you include Darren Sproles?
Murray has recorded at least one rushing touchdown in each of his past seven games, including playoffs. It's the longest active streak in the NFL. The division of the workload will be interesting because of this note from NFL Network researcher Bill Smith - 15 teams did not have a running back carry the ball at least 15 times on Sunday.
There's also the role of Sproles, who set a Monday Night Football record for the most receiving yards by a running back in a single game with 152 in last year's win at Indianapolis in Week 2. With just 2 yards receiving tonight, Sproles will surpass Brian Westbrook for the eighth place all time in receiving yards by a running back on Monday Night Football.
3. Listen To Our Podcasts And The Wait Will Nearly Be Over
Fran Duffy, Alex Smith and I previewed the Eagles-Falcons showdown featuring the game "Peachy or Reachy" in honor of the location of the Monday night opener on the Eagles Insider Podcast. Jason Peters also stopped by to discuss Sam Bradford, the rushing attack, being a mentor to the rookies and Falcons first-round pick Vic Beasley.
Fran also hosts the Eagle Eye in the Sky Podcast featuring an in-depth X's and O's breakdown of the game with NFL Films senior producer Greg Cosell.
4. Can The Eagles Put Matt Ryan On Ice?
The Eagles' new secondary features two new starters at cornerback, including Byron Maxwell, as well as a new safety in Walter Thurmond. They will be tested out of the gate by an Atlanta Falcons offense that features three-time Pro Bowl quarterback Matt Ryan.
The Falcons are 38-5 in Ryan's career when the quarterback posts a passer rating of 100 or better. Ryan is one of only four quarterbacks to post at least 4,000 yards in each of the past four seasons. He is also 7-0 in home openers in his NFL career, including a 35-31 win over the Eagles in Week 2 of the 2011 season.
5. Who Is Going To Play For Dallas?
Lastly, there was simply too much news that came from the Sunday night game between the Giants and the Cowboys that directly impacts the Eagles' home opener next Sunday against Dallas.
After the Giants were unable to put the game away with a late touchdown or milk the clock, Tony Romo led the Cowboys on a 72-yard drive that ended with a touchdown pass to Jason Witten with just seven seconds left to give Dallas a 27-26 win.
The win was costly for Dallas, however. The Cowboys will already be without defensive end Greg Hardy and linebacker Rolando McClain due to suspensions. Now, wide receiver Dez Bryant and defensive end Randy Gregory will miss the Week 2 matchup due to injury. Bryant suffered a broken bone in his right foot that will sideline him and Gregory suffered a high-ankle sprain.