Eagles-Falcons Week 10: What they're saying

Eagles-Falcons Week 10: What they're saying

With Week 10 on the horizon, the Eagles (4-4) need to start piecing together some wins if they have any hopes of playing well into January.

A 28-23 loss to the Giants last week dropped the Eagles to 0-3 in the NFC East and three games off pace of the division-leading Cowboys.

After beginning the season with two layups in the form of the Browns and Bears, the Eagles have gone on a six-game stretch where they've faced opponents with a combined 30-18-1 record. The Birds have gone 2-4 over that stretch and the schedule isn't softening up anytime soon. 

On Sunday the Eagles will return to the friendly confines of the Linc, where they are 3-0 this season, but, in doing so, will welcome an imposing Atlanta Falcons (6-3) team that is capable of putting up points in a hurry.

Matt Ryan and company currently pace the NFL in both passing and total offense, as well as points per game (33.9). Atlanta is winners of two straight, most recently taking down the Buccaneers last Thursday night in Tampa Bay, 43-28.

To find out more about the Eagles' Week 10 opponent, here's what they're saying about the Falcons heading into Sunday's matchup.

Keep the slow starts going
One of the main reasons that the Eagles have trended downward over the past month has been their slow starts on both sides of the ball. 

On defense, the Eagles have surrendered 14 first-half touchdowns this season compared to just three total touchdowns in the second half. On the offensive side of the ball, Carson Wentz has thrown four picks, compared to one touchdown, and has posted a 63.4 quarterback rating in first quarters.

In their four losses, the Eagles have been outscored by a combined 36 points in the first quarter.

According to Khadrice Rollins of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, if the Falcons want to leave Philadelphia with their third straight win, ensuring the Eagles continue their slow starts will be a solid place to begin

"If Atlanta is going to keep those trends going, getting Philadelphia’s offense off balance early will be a big help," Rollins wrote. "Eagles’ quarterback Carson Wentz has been at his worst in the game’s opening period. Of his five interceptions this season, four have come in the first quarter. Last week a pair of early picks helped put Philadelphia behind 14-0 just more than five minutes into the game."

Trying to find the end zone in the red zone
The scariest thing about the Falcons' high-octane offense may not be how many points they've put on the board, but how many they've left off it.

Atlanta has been able to boast the league's top scoring offense despite having the 15th ranked red zone efficiency, finding the end zone on 56.76 percent of its trips inside the opposing 20.

But, according to Vaughn McClure of ESPN.com, the Falcons may have found a simple solution to their struggles in the red zone. In their previous win over the Bucs, Ryan connected with star wideout Julio Jones on a fade route for a three-yard score. It was Jones' first touchdown in the red zone across his surprisingly-low five targets.

According to McClure, even if it fails at times the Falcons should continue to go to that well when they reach the red zone.

"Those misses shouldn't discourage Jones and Ryan from continuing to try the fade when the chances arise," McClure wrote. "Imagine how much more potent the league's highest-scoring offense at 33.7 points per game will be if such completions to Jones become a regular part of the repertoire. The two have non-verbal communication on the play depending on if Ryan is under center or working out of the shotgun."

Beware of Beasley
Since his shaky NFL debut against the Redskins Week 6, Halapoulivaati Vaitai has settled in and remained out of the headlines with his steady play. 

Vaitai will get arguably his toughest draw of the season on Sunday as he'll have to deal with the dynamic Vic Beasley. The eighth overall selection in the 2015 draft has broken out in his sophomore season, totaling 7.5 sacks and three forced fumbles through nine games. 

The combination of Beasley's dominance and Vaitai's inexperience is why D. Orlando Ledbetter of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution has the Falcons' young defensive end as the game's X-factor. 

"Falcons defensive end Vic Beasley, who’ll have a favorable matchup against rookie right tackle Halapoulivaati Vaitai, will be the X-factor against the Eagles," Ledbetter wrote. "... Beasley, who has 7.5 sacks, has sparked the revival of the pass rush. Adrian Clayborn and Grady Jarrett have joined the party while veteran Dwight Freeney recovers from a thigh injury."

The Eagles have been dominant in their three games at home this season, but the national experts aren't expecting that dominance to continue against the Falcons.

ESPN: Seven of nine experts picked the Falcons
CBS Sports: Seven of eight experts picked the Falcons
FOX Sports: Three of five experts picked the Eagles   

Andre Dillard's switch from left tackle to right tackle is like trying to write left-handed

Andre Dillard's switch from left tackle to right tackle is like trying to write left-handed

How challenging is it for Andre Dillard to move from left tackle to right?

"Think about it like this," Dillard said. "You probably write with your right hand, right? So all of a sudden, say you had to write a big essay with your left hand. Right now. That's basically it. Write with your left hand. Think about how that would feel."

Dillard, a left tackle since he was 14, will make his first lifetime start at right tackle on Sunday when the Eagles face the Seahawks at the Linc.

Dillard said he's never played right tackle in a game on any level.

"Your brain kind of acts like a muscle in this case," he said. "You do one thing one way for 10 years, like I have, then everything about you is geared toward that. You flip it, your brain's like, 'Oh heck.' But this week's been a good week of preparation."

Dillard replaced injured left tackle Jason Peters in the second quarter of the Vikings game and stayed there through the Bills game, making his first three career starts and playing at a high level. Peters returned for the Patriots, but when right tackle Lane Johnson got hurt in the second quarter, it was Halapoulivaati Vaitai that entered the game at right tackle.

That didn't go so well. The Eagles, up 10-0, didn't score another point.

So Dillard spent this past week practicing at right tackle, and unless Johnson is somehow cleared through concussion protocol before Sunday, the rookie first-round pick will make his first career start on the right side against the Seahawks.

"Anytime you go from left to right side, it's a lot harder than people think," right guard Brandon Brooks said. "Not only are you flipping all the plays completely opposite but the muscle memory, your stance, everything's completely different. I have nothing but faith in Andre Dillard. Everything he's done, busting his ass out there, all the reps, all the extra time I've seen him after practice and stuff? It's different obviously. You don't replace Lane Johnson. He's a one-of-a-kind talent, a one-of-a-kind player. But at the same time, Dillard has more than enough talent. He's more than capable of handling his own out there."

The Eagles went with Vaitai to finish the Patriots game since Dillard hadn't taken any right tackle reps other than "a couple" in training camp and has never played the position.

"In the heat of the game I think Stout (offensive line coach Jeff Stoutland) for sure felt that Big V had more work on the right side," Jason Kelce said. "Andre, he's a tackle by trade and there's a little bit of a difference and a little bit of balance and body control that you have to get used to going on the right side, but he'll be able to get it done. He's a really athletic kid."

Now Dillard has had a full week of work on the right side, and he said the process of transitioning to a new position will continue up until game time as he watches film, works on his technique and talks to his teammates and coaches.

But so far?

"Smooth as can be," he said after practice Friday. "It's obviously going to be a challenge, but I'm up for it. I'm perfectly capable."

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Eagles vs. Seahawks 2019: TV schedule, storylines, game time and more

Eagles vs. Seahawks 2019: TV schedule, storylines, game time and more

The Eagles (5-5) are hosting the Seahawks (8-2) at the Linc on Sunday.

Here’s everything you need to know:

12 p.m.: Eagles Pregame Live on NBCSP
1 p.m.: Eagles vs. Seahawks on FOX
4 p.m.: Eagles Postgame Live on NBCSP
6:30 p.m.: Birds Outsiders on NBCSP

The FOX broadcast crew for this game is Kevin Burkhardt (play by play), Charles Davis (analyst) and Pam Oliver (sideline).

Merrill Reese, Mike Quick and Howard Eskin will have the call on 94WIP.

The Eagles opened up as 2.5-point home favorites against the Seahawks.

The referee for this game is Walt Anderson. Anderson has been the ref for two Eagles games in the Doug Pederson Era: A win over the Giants in November 2018 and the first game under Pederson in 2016, which was a win over Cleveland. Oddly enough, the Eagles had seven penalties for 46 yards in each of those games.

You’ll get to sleep early

This game was initially scheduled to be an 8:20 p.m. start, but the Packers-49ers game was flexed into that spot, so the Eagles and Seahawks got bumped to 1 p.m. That’s good news for anyone who values their sleep going into a new work week, but bad news for out-of-town fans who were relying on a national broadcast.

Russell Wilson is a problem

Wilson was already a Hall of Fame quarterback before this year, but now he’s having the best season of his career. Lamar Jackson is probably the front-runner to be the league’s MVP, but Wilson is right in the mix.

In three career games against the Eagles, Wilson is 3-0 and the Seahawks have outscored the Eagles 74-39 in those games. Wilson has thrown six touchdowns with no interceptions in those three wins.

Things get easier from here

After this game, the Eagles’ schedule gets much easier. Coming off their bye week against the Patriots and Seahawks was a tough task. But check out the rest of their schedule after this:

Week 13: at Miami (2-8)
Week 14: vs. New York Giants (2-8)
Week 15: at Washington (1-9)
Week 16: vs. Dallas (6-4)
Week 17: at New York Giants (2-8)

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