Falcons Wire behind enemy lines: Previewing Week 1 with Eagles Wire

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The Atlanta Falcons and Philadelphia Eagles were two of the NFL’s bottom feeders in 2020, combining for a record of 8-23-1. Both teams hired new coaching staffs and added top-10 draft picks over the offseason. Philadelphia brought in Nick Sirianni to replace Super Bowl-winning head coach Doug Pederson, and Atlanta hired Arthur Smith to replace Super Bowl-losing head coach Dan Quinn.

To help you get more familiar with this weekend’s opponent, we went behind enemy lines with Glenn Erby, the managing editor of Eagles Wire, for some insight.

What is biggest difference from Doug Pederson to Nick Sirianni?

Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports

Erby: I think the overall intensity has picked up within this team, along with the overall premise that competition rules on a daily basis. Whether it's sprints, basketball, or ball drills, Sirianni has instilled a sense of competition and urgency for this team. Doug Pederson carried himself like a veteran coach and the team rarely had any significant roster competition.

Who was Philadelphia's biggest offseason acquisition?

(AP Photo/Kirk Irwin)

Erby: Definitely a tie between Steven Nelson (CB) and DeVonta Smith (WR). Both players addressed a vital need, with Nelson finally giving the Eagles a solid cornerback opposite Darius Slay. The selection of DeVonta Smith in the draft helps erase the sting of passing on names like DK Metcalf, Terry McLaurin, and Justin Jefferson via the draft.

What should we expect from QB Jalen Hurts?

Tim Heitman-USA TODAY Sports

Erby: Hurts has answered all the questions thus far in his second season and I think his biggest jump will come in his accuracy as a passer. Hurts will eliminate negative plays with his legs, while DeVonta Smith, Zach Ertz, and Dallas Goedert. Look for Hurts to challenge every single season Eagles' passing record.

How has rookie WR DeVonta Smith looked in preseason?

Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Erby: Smooth and fluid, while already running routes like a veteran pass-catcher. He missed about a week with a knee sprain but returned to dominate the Patriots during two days of joint practice sessions. Smith has put on weight, he's the leader of the wide receiving corps and he's shown the ability to win one on one matchups at the line of scrimmage.

Defensively, who's stood out the most at training camp?

Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports

Erby: Another tie between two game wreckers upfront in Josh Sweat (DE) and Javon Hargrave (DT). Sweat is a veteran pass rusher who'll be a free agent next spring and he's trending towards a double-digit sack season. Hargrave looks comfortable in his second season and he'll likely help Fletcher Cox return to his dominant form.

Who wins/final score prediction?

Brett Davis-USA TODAY Sports

Erby: Philadelphia is stout up front on both sides of the ball and I think that offensive and defensive line depth gets the Eagles over the hump. Final score: Philadelphia 24 Atlanta 17.

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