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Atlanta Falcons Preparing For Eagles' Rapid-Fire Offensive Attack


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O'Brien Schofield knows what to expect Monday night.

The Atlanta Falcons outside linebacker is one of a handful of players on the roster who have faced a Chip Kelly-coached Philadelphia team. Schofield played in Seattle last year -- where current Falcons coach Dan Quinn was the defensive coordinator -- when the Seahawks defeated the Eagles, 24-14, in Week 14.

In that game, the Eagles' uptempo, quick-strike, no-huddle, spread attack managed just 139 yards and two scores on 45 total plays, which was 257.8 yards, 15.6 points, and 25 plays less than their season averages. The Seahawks won the time of possession battle, 41:56 to 18:04, as Kelly's offense sputtered against Quinn's suffocating unit.

Of course the Falcons don't have the same type of defensive playmakers Quinn had with the Seahawks. The approach shouldn't change, in Schofield's opinion.

"In Seattle, we were really good on first down, and that was able to slow them down as far as how they could go at their pace," Schofield said. "I think we're going to be prepared, man. We've got enough bodies to roll in and substitute however we need to. But we're practicing that pace right now in practice. ... It's nothing we can't practice."

The simulation of the Eagles' uptempo style started Monday.

"Immediately, we're looking at the sideline," Schofield said. "But we have checks. Like Paul [Worrilow] and them know certain calls -- if we don't get a call out at a certain time -- what to call as a defense. But immediately after the play, we're all looking to the sideline.

"Once things get going and we're out there, you have to force the negative plays, which stops the fast-pace offense. To me, they use the fast-paced offensive after they get positive yardage and explosive plays. They try and hurry up and get back on the ball. But if you're going to hurry up after a negative play, that's probably going to be in the defense's favor. ... We have to play well on first and second down and put ourselves in a good position."

Worrilow, the middle linebacker and defensive signal-caller, talked about his role against the Eagles' uptempo offense.

"It's still the same procedure for me, for the most part," he said. "It doesn't matter how fast they go. As the signal-caller, I'm responsible for getting the front lined up and any additional adjustments. It's just going to be a greater emphasis on being ready for the next play when the previous one is over."

There have been some significant changes to the Eagles' offense from what Schofield encountered last season. Sam Bradford is at quarterback now rather than Mark Sanchez, meaning a lot more accuracy and a little more mobility for read-option capabilities. Reigning rushing champ DeMarco Murray is at running back now rather than LeSean McCoy, with Murray having big-play ability but not the same elusiveness as McCoy. And the Eagles no longer have Jeremy Maclin, but still have a pretty dangerous receiver in Jordan Matthews.

Not to mention small wonder Darren Sproles, who is capable of creating mismatches against linebackers and causing fits all over the field.

If the Eagles are able to play their fast style without many interruptions and score touchdowns in the red zone, it could be a long opening night for the Falcons. Bradford was rather sharp in the preseason, completing 13 of 15 passes for 156 yards and three touchdowns in 32 snaps played.

The Falcons have more depth along the defensive line than in recent years, so that could play a major factor in keeping fresh bodies to throw at Bradford. Expect more of the nickel defense to combat the spread. And there should be plenty of energy coming from rookie first-round draft pick Vic Beasley, whose speed and athleticism can help disrupt the Eagles' flow.

"In college, I played against uptempo teams like North Carolina," Beasley said. "I think it's going to be a big challenge because a lot of us haven't had the experience against that type of offense, especially for the first game. So, it's going to be something we're going to have to adapt to. If you get stops, you can limit them. But if they get going, they can be pretty tough."

Schofield believes the fast pace and loud sounds of the Falcons' daily practices also have helped the defense better prepare for the Eagles.

"I think the fast-pace practice and the music make it harder to communicate and really forces you to really be clear with your language," Schofield said. "We're going to be fine. We've got good leadership starting with guys like Babs (Jonathan Babineaux) on the defensive line. When it's all said and done, it's going to come down to us, individually, just applying what we're doing in practice. We can't go out there in the game and start making stuff up because they're going fast. We've got stick to the game plan."

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Much is made about us having the worst pass defense in the league last year but guess what - the Eagles had the second worse. The difference is their secondary was bad and they had a good pass rush. We had no pass rush at all. I like our chances.

Especially since their secondary is still bad and our front 7 is greatly improved.

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I think this depends on how they play Byron Maxwell. Plus they picked up Kiko at LB. if their D is bad, it won't be because of a lack of talent...

Maybe. I remember when they picked up a ton of talent back in 2011 and went 8-8. They've looked good in the preseason, but I'm not sold on them at all.

They may prove me wrong. We'll see.

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When Eagles coach Chip Kelly was asked about the goal of the up-tempo offense, he responded in a flippant manner: "It's trying to get the game over quicker. ... It's all for the fans. I know people shouldn't be paying a lot of money to watch guys stand around." Share©  Share Tweet @Email NFL 3m

Man, I hope Quinn cooks up a gameplan to knock the smirk off his face.

Even if we lose, I'd be really happy knowing we gave them a much harder game than anyone expects. And I think we have a reasonable shot at winning the game, over and against apparently everyone else on the planet. I don't think the Eagles are kryptonite. They can be beaten, and we have a good team.

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