Eagles Expect Different Falcons Team in Atlanta
PHILADELPHIA (973espn.com) - Doug Pederson isn't caught up in any recent success against the Atlanta Falcons.
While Pederson is 3-0 against Atlanta as the Eagles head coach, including a 15-10 divisional playoff round win back in 2017 during the run to Super Bowl LII, he's also aware that all three of those games were at Lincoln Financial Field and the Falcons are a very different team on the fast track at Mercedes-Benz Stadium.
"We have been fortunate to have all those games here since I've been here, they’ve home games for us," Pederson acknowledged. "They're a different team obviously when they’re playing at home in front of their crowd."
A four-time Pro Bowl selection and former league MVP, Matt Ryan has generally struggled as well against Jim Schwartz's defenses, compiling just a 73.5 passer rating in those games.
Ryan is an Exton native who played his high school ball at William Penn Charter School in Philadelphia and Pederson believes some of the stress from coming home may have affected Ryan in a negative fashion.
"I think there is something to the fact -- and he's a great quarterback. I love watching Matt Ryan, I’ve been following his career and everything. For him, too, it's coming back home and playing in front of family and friends and relatives and stuff when he comes here," Pederson assessed.
Then there is the Eagles defense, one which entered the 2019 season allowing the fewest points per game (15.8) at home in the NFL since 2016, the start of the Pederson/Schwartz era.
Similar success has not always followed on the road.
"Our guys just -- I don't want to say they play differently -- but they just get after him and they put pressure on him," Pederson said of his defense vs. Ryan. "Any time you do that to quarterbacks and disrupt their timing, you can cause turnovers, incomplete passes, move him off his spot, whatever it is, and we have been able to do that."
Another good defense -- Minnesota -- was able to do exactly that last week against the Falcons but that game was also in Minneapolis, not Atlanta.
At 34 Ryan has settled in as a QB who will pick you apart if he's clean but is susceptible to making more and more mistakes as you speed him up and get him off those spots.
"He’s very dynamic and electric and they do some great things in that dome," Pederson said. "So now it's going to be a challenge down there, loud place, trying to do it again."
-John McMullen covers the Eagles and the NFL for 973espn.com. You can reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @JFMcMullen