Falcons expect some Eagles surprises

Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan is 0-2 at Lincoln Financial Field, with losses in 2008 and 2010.
Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan is 0-2 at Lincoln Financial Field, with losses in 2008 and 2010. (ASSOCIATED PRESS)
Posted: October 25, 2012

THE LEGIONS of Eagles fans who are not sure what to expect out of their defense this weekend are not alone.

The Falcons don't have much of an idea, either.

"It's a lot like a first game of the year," Atlanta quarterback Matt Ryan said. "There will be some similar things to what they've done in the first 6 weeks of the season. I'm sure they will have a wrinkle or two for us; some things that are a little bit different. We'll just have to adjust and adapt to it during the game."

Ryan, a Penn Charter product, is 0-2 at Lincoln Financial Field. He lost in 2008 when Jim Johnson was the Eagles defensive coordinator and in 2010 when Sean McDermott had the job. His only win over the Eagles was last year in Atlanta when Juan Castillo was running the Birds' defense.

Castillo, of course, was replaced last week by secondary coach Todd Bowles.

"We're going to get some unscouted looks, I'm sure of that," Atlanta coach Mike Smith said. "We're not anticipating that they're going to change from a 4-3 to a 3-4. But the way the game is going to be called may be different . . . or it may not."

Bowles has been an NFL defensive assistant since 2000, but he has never been a coordinator. He was the Dolphins' interim head coach at the end of last season and went 2-1 after Tony Sparano was fired.

"I think in what I call situational football - the third-down plays, the red-zone plays, the plays that really make a difference in a game - I'm sure are going to have a little different philosophy with coach Bowles," Smith said.

Atlanta wide receivers coach Terry Robiskie and Bowles were on the Cleveland staff from 2001-03.

"A couple of guys on our staff are familiar with coach Bowles," Smith concluded, " . . . although not as a defensive coordinator and calling a game."

Falcons facts

A victory on Sunday would make Mike Smith the Falcons' all-time winningest coach. Smith is 49-21 since 2008. He is tied with Dan Reeves, who went 49-59-1 from 1997-03. Reeves brought the Falcons to their only Super Bowl, a loss to the Broncos following the 1998 season . . .

Former Eagle Asante Samuel had his first interception as a Falcon 2 weeks ago, scoring on a crucial 79-yard return in the fourth quarter of a 23-20 win over the Raiders. Samuel played for the Eagles from 2009-11 and has assisted in the game-planning for this week. "Asante can give us some insight on the roster, that's probably the biggest thing," Smith said. "He's practiced against those guys. He's a very intelligent football player" . . .

Atlanta (6-0) is the NFL's last undefeated team. Like the Eagles, they had a bye last week. The Eagles are 13-0 coming off a bye under Andy Reid. Atlanta is 3-1 under Smith, with wins each of the last 3 years.

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