Eagles Hangover: What to remember (and forget) from the Birds’ season-opening loss to Atlanta

Wide receiver Jordan Matthews reacts after making a key drop.

Wide receiver Jordan Matthews reacts after making a key drop.

After sitting around all off-season watching Chip Kelly effectively blow up the Eagles’ roster, fans finally got a chance to see the new Birds in regular season action. Sort of makes you nostalgic for the preseason, doesn’t it?

The Eagles fell during Monday night football to the Atlanta Falcons, 26-24, after even a second-half jolt couldn’t overcome a sluggish first one marked by an average-looking Sam Bradford, who finished off the first half with interception that led to an Atlanta touchdown.

There were, of course, some weird calls and head-scratching decision-making along the way, from a missed late field goal rather than a seemingly-obvious-Kelly-going-for-it-on-fourth-and-1, or the largely-sidelined Cowboy and one-time league-leading running back Demarco Murray.

Here’s a recap of the performance and the first regular season game of the year:

The turning point

Probably in the fourth quarter when the Eagles foiled a chance at taking the game with only three minutes to go. But more on that later. The part of the game that set the Eagles on course to lose was the first half. That’s when, importantly, the Eagles actually scored less points than the Phillies had at the same point in the evening.

Even though Citizen’s Bank Park looked something like this:

The first half sluggishness was enough to set the Eagles back 17 points at the half, a Falcons lead that proved *just* too much for the Eagles to overcome later in the night.

What to be happy about

Everyone was all up in arms when Kelly traded Shady McCoy to the Buffalo Bills. And for good reason. But as part of that trade, the Eagles got linebacker Kiko Alonso, who showed a flash of brilliance Monday night with an incredible one-handed (and left-handed) interception of Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan. Here’s what the pure beauty looked like:

The head-scratcher

Demarco Murray was a prolific runner while he spent years in Dallas. So why’d he only record eight carries for nine yards and four catches for another 11 yards? Instead, Sam Bradford used his arm and went 36 of 52 for 336 yards. Obviously Murray, who averaged some 115 yards a game last season in Dallas, said he probably would have preferred to have played more.

“Obviously you want to get more opportunities,” Murray said after the game. “Not only myself, everyone wants to get the ball as many times as they can to help this team.”

Best Chip Kelly-ism

“I told those guys it was a tale of two halves,” Kelly said after the game.

And that it was. The Eagles offense couldn’t seem to get anything productive going on first or second down throughout the first half and were down 20-3 to Atlanta by the end of the second quarter. The pundits were wondering if Kelly traded away too many of his most explosive offensive playmakers during the offseason — ahem, Shady McCoy — but those voices were eventually tamed when the O turned it around later in the game.

But still, we agree with @FanSince09 that pro bowl guard Evan Mathis, who was dumped by the Birds in the offseason, might have been doing something like this while watching the team flop in the first half:

The ‘d’oh’ moment

Eagles fans were all riled up by the fourth quarter when the offense was efficiently moving the ball — but Chip Kelly then did something unexpected on fourth-and-1 while his team was on the Falcons’ 26 and was down by two points. Instead of a chance at a TD, which wouldn’t have allowed the Falcons to answer with only a field goal, Kelly took a long while to make a decision without calling a timeout, which led to a rushed field goal attempt.

Annnnnnd kicker Cody Parkey sent the field goal wide of the uprights. The Eagles got the ball back with plenty of time left to get back in position and try for a second field goal, but Bradford threw an interception on third down while the Eagles were at the 29. Game, basically, over. D’oh.

Weird thing that happened

Look, we’re not saying one of the Eagles’ sideline coaches is definitely a monkey making a lewd gesture with his hand and his mouth. But he’s not… not.

Tweet of the game

Nooooooo, you’re so….. right.

Quote of the day

“We were horrible.”

Yep, we already quoted him, but Chip Kelly gets the quote of the day. He clearly wasn’t mincing words when it came to how the Eagles responded to the Falcons’ defense, especially in the first quarter. Yep, they were horrible, and Kelly was just going to be straight-up about it.

Hot take

I mean…

Insane Eagles fan commentary

What’s happening next week

Just so you can stop thinking about last night forever, the Eagles take on Dallas at home this Sunday at 4:25 p.m. The Cowboys are currently 1-0 after beating the New York Giants, 27-26, on Sunday.

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Mark Sanchez