Both the Eagles and Buccaneers go into week two of the NFL season coming off one-possession wins in week one. Philly’s defense held off the Falcons late in the game while backup quarterback, Ryan Fitzpatrick, shined in a shootout win against the Saints. I’m expecting another good game in week two.
Notes from week 1:
The play of Nick Foles was meh
Foles did not play at the level that he did last February in the Super Bowl. As I noted in the week one blog, Foles has been either great or terrible throughout his career. Statistically, this performance would go in the category of terrible as he completed just 19/34 passes for 117 yards with no touchdowns, an interception, and a passer rating of 50.7. Thankfully for the Eagles, the defense was on its game and Jay Ajayi played well enough to get the win.
Jay Ajayi showed he can be the Eagles workhorse
Ajayi carried the Eagles’ offense with Nick Foles off his game. After seeing just three carries in the first half, Ajayi had a great second half with 12 carries for 51 yards and two touchdowns. Darren Sproles looked a little rusty in his first game back from a knee injury as he saw 5 carries for only 10 yards. Corey Clement had 5 carries for 26 yards with most of those coming from a 21-yarder he broke off in the fourth quarter. Assuming Nick Foles is under center for the Eagles in week 2, the Eagles should lean on Ajayi more than they did in week one.
The Eagles’ defense shined in the win
Just as they did back in their playoff win against the Falcons back in January, the Eagles shut down the Falcon’s offense. The Eagles created pressure all game as they recorded four sacks: 1.5 apiece by Chris Long and Hicks, and 1 by Fletcher Cox. Even more impressive was the Eagles’ red zone defense as they held the Falcons to just 9 points in five red zone appearances. The Eagles’ defense will get Nigel Bradham back in week 2 after he was suspended for week one.
Thankfully for the Eagles, no one was seriously injured in week one. Jason Kelce left for a few plays but returned later in the game. Carson Wentz is not expected to be ready yet and his return date is still unknown so the Eagles are most likely preparing to have Nick Foles under center again. Alshon Jeffery is also out for week two and the Eagles’ receivers need to do better than they did last week.
They pulled off the upset of the week
The Buccaneers pulled off the upset in week one in a shootout 48-40 win over the New Orleans Saints. The Bucs’ offense clicked on all cylinders as they won on the road despite being the heavy underdog. Even more notable was the fact that starting quarterback, Jameis Winston, is suspended for the first three weeks. With Winston out, Harvard alum, Ryan Fitzpatrick, stepped in and had a great performance.
The Veteran Backup QB got the job done
Throughout his career, Fitzpatrick has been a low level starter, high level backup at quarterback. The former Bills and Jets starter, Fitzpatrick stepped in and completed 21/28 passes for a career-high 417 yards, 4 touchdowns, and a near-perfect passer rating of 156.3. It’s almost as if Fitzpatrick had his Foles Super Bowl performance. But like Foles, Fitzpatrick has dealt with inconsistency in his career and the Buccaneers will need a repeat performance in week 2 to pull off another upset.
The Defense was shaky
The other half to a shootout win is that despite the great offense, it means a team’s defense did not show up. This was certainly the case as the Saints’ passing attack chewed up the Buccaneers’ secondary. The Bucs couldn’t handle Michael Thomas as he caught 16 of 17 targets for 180 yards and a touchdown. Ranking dead last in sacks last season, the Bucs’ defensive line struggled again to create pressure with just one sack. To be fair, the Saints have a top offense but the Bucs cannot expect to win if their defense plays the way it did on Sunday.
Former Eagle, Desean Jackson, was knocked out of Sunday’s game in the fourth quarter after he sustained a concussion. Jackson was having a huge game with 5 catches for 146 yards and two touchdowns. Jackson will have to pass the NFL’s concussion protocol to be able to play on Sunday.
Who will come out on top in week 2
Ryan Fitzpatrick has been too inconsistent throughout his career for me to believe that he’ll be able to keep up the level of play he had in week one. The Eagles’ defense is much better than the Saints’ defense. The Eagles will get Nigel Bradham back and that is a huge win for their defense. I expect Nick Foles to looker sharper in week two and I expect the Eagles to move to 2-0 on the season.
Final Score: Philadelphia 24, Tampa Bay 13