It wasn’t the smoothest Week 1 for the Eagles’ offense, which did enough to beat the Falcons but certainly struggled most of the night in the 2018 opener.
Offensive coordinator Mike Groh met with the media Tuesday afternoon to go over it all, and here are five takeaways from his chat.
• Let’s start with Nick Foles, who struggled mightily to get into a rhythm Thursday night.
Foles has always been a rhythm passer, and that’s true of a lot of QBs, but with him, if he doesn’t find a rhythm early, it’s often hard for him to ever find it.
Groh: “I think just try to find him easy completions. Not unlike a lot of the quarterbacks, you like to get in the flow of the game, get a completion, or to use a basketball analogy, find a nice, easy open shot or a layup. Kind of find your rhythm early and get going. We've got to do a good job of that and try to present him those kind of opportunities early so he can get in the flow of the game.”
• Groh was asked about Mike Wallace, who was targeted three times by Foles but didn’t catch a pass. He appeared to be held on one play, another was underthrown and the third was thrown out of bounds. Still, it wasn’t the debut the Eagles were looking for from the veteran wide receiver.
Instead of talking only about Wallace, Groh spoke about the entire receiving corps, which managed just 43 yards in the 18-12 win over the Falcons, and Groh didn’t shy away from the fact that the wideouts need to be better.
Groh: “Obviously, we want to improve, and I think that we will. We've got veteran guys here that know the expectation level. We need to improve our execution. There are a lot of the things we can get better at. I am confident that we'll get back to work here when we get on the grass (at practice Wednesday) and start that process.”
• It was a weird day for Jay Ajayi, who ran just three times for 11 yards in the first half but was 12 for 51 with two touchdowns in the second half.
At first, Groh said it was just the way the game went.
He later conceded that concerns about Ajayi’s health — he missed some practice time with a foot injury — were also behind the decision not to play Ajayi much early.
Groh: “Any time you have a lower-body injury it's hard to keep your conditioning where you would like it to be. I think that was something that factored in.”
It’s no secret the offense didn’t get rolling until Ajayi became a focal point. The offense had 68 yards and three points in the first half but 164 yards and 15 points after halftime. No coincidence. The Eagles need to get to Ajayi a lot sooner moving forward.
• It’s remarkable what Jason Peters was able to do Thursday night in his first game of any kind since Oct. 23, 2017. Peters didn’t play at all in the preseason, so the Falcons game was his first in 10½ months.
Peters was the 10th-oldest starter in the NFL in Week 1 and the second-oldest offensive lineman, behind only Andrew Whitworth of the Rams, who’s about two months older.
Never take this guy for granted. What he’s doing at his age coming off that injury in his 15th season is crazy.
Groh: “Pretty amazing that a guy could miss all that time and step right back into one of the premier positions in the National Football League like he did for us. We know he's just going to keep getting better week in and week out now that the games have started and he gets back out there and knocks a little bit of the rust off. For Week 1, he played really well.”