Philadelphia Eagles News

Season Preview: The Opener In Atlanta


The 2015 schedule for the Philadelphia Eagles has been announced. The schedule features six nationally televised games and a second consecutive Thanksgiving Day game ...

Eagles fans will have to wait one more day for the start of the regular season.

Head coach Chip Kelly's NFL debut came on a Monday night in 2013. He will begin his third NFL campaign on a Monday night, but against a first-time head coach in Atlanta's Dan Quinn.

The Atlanta Falcons stumbled to a 6-10 finish in 2014, but they have some pieces in place that would make other teams jealous. The Falcons have a franchise quarterback in Matt Ryan. Julio Jones is a star wide receiver. Last year, the Falcons got their left tackle in Jake Matthews in the draft.

The question now is whether Quinn, who takes over for the franchise's all-time winningest head coach in Mike Smith, can spruce up the defense to get the Falcons back to the top of what was the NFL's worst division in 2014.

Quinn manned the Seattle Seahawks' defense for the past two seasons. In 2013, the Seahawks were the first team since the 1985 Chicago Bears to lead the league in fewest point allowed, fewest yards allowed and most takeaways en route to the Super Bowl. This past season, the Seahawks led the league once again in yards and points allowed on the way to the NFC Championship. Quinn got to see the Eagles' offense up close last season as the Seahawks beat the Eagles, but it's a much different squad now with Sam Bradford at quarterback and DeMarco Murray and Ryan Mathews leading the charge out of the backfield.

The Falcons also aren't quite as good on defense as Seattle. Atlanta ranked 27th in points allowed (26.1) and dead last in yards allowed (398.3). Atlanta was also next to last in sacks with just 22. Atlanta has re-tooled with edge rusher Vic Beasley, the eighth overall pick, as the centerpiece. In free agency, the Falcons signed pass rushers such as defensive end Adrian Clayborn and outside linebacker Brooks Reed. Quinn also brought in linebacker O'Brien Schofield, who played in the Seahawks' system the past two seasons.

New offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan is quite familiar with Kelly's Eagles after spending four years in Washington in the same role from 2010-13. Shanahan's offenses have been known for their rushing attack. Devonta Freeman might be atop the depth chart now, but the Falcons spent a third-round pick on Tevin Coleman, who was second in the nation in yards per game last season with over 169.

Ten years ago, the Eagles opened their defense of the NFC Championship on what turned out to be a forgettable Monday night in Atlanta. On September 14, the Eagles will look to spoil Quinn's debut and welcome the start of the 2015 season.

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