The Falcons’ run defense, which didn’t show up in the opener, will be the X-factor when they face the Eagles at 8:20 p.m. Sunday at Mercedes-Benz Stadium.
The Falcons gave up 172 yards rushing and the Vikings, who only had to pass the football 10 times. The Eagles rushed for 123 yards on 31 carries in their 32-27 win over the Redskins.
Falcons free safety Ricardo Allen didn’t mince words about what happened in the season opener.
“We were soft on the outside,” Allen said.
The Falcon didn’t turn the run plays back inside to the help. Falcons coach Dan Quinn is expecting a better effort against the Eagles.
“It wasn’t one thing or one scheme,” Quinn said. “We made the corrections that we needed to. We obviously talked (about) it, identified, walked through it, went through it to make sure that’s not part of what we are.”
The Falcons know they are going to see a constant stream of running plays until they show they can stop the run.
The Eagles feature running backs Darren Sproles, Jordan Howard, who was acquired in a trade with Chicago, and rookie Miles Sanders, a second-round pick out of Penn State.
Sproles rushed nine times for 47 yards against the Redskins. Howard had six rushes for 44 yards and Sanders had 11 rushes for 25 yards and had a 21-yard touchdown run called back because of a holding penalty.
Sproles is the outside speed back, while Howard is used to run inside-zone plays.
Sanders, who was heavily scouted by the Falcons, can also catch passes out of the backfield.
“Like most teams, they feature the running backs in their own unique ways and do the things they do best,” Quinn said. “For a long time, they’ve had a good screen package in Philadelphia and I thought the screen game, their red-zone packages were things that have jumped out to me through the years.”
But if they can just line up and run the ball, it will be another long day for the Falcons.
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