Well, now that the Eagles’ dreams of an unbeaten season have been dashed, how about we break down Sunday’s loss to the Chargers:
Brace yourself, because this is the kind of season it’s going to be. An explosive offense. A bad defense. A lot of 33-30 games like Sunday. Some they’ll win. Some they’ll lose. My preseason prediction of 8-8 still looks like a good bet.
If you’re looking for hope, focus on the 2008 Cardinals, who beat the Eagles in the NFC Championship Game. They managed to make it to Super Bowl XLIII with a defense that gave up 26.7 points per game.
THE PASS DEFENSE
Yes it was awful. After the game on Sunday, Chip Kelly said his team has to do a better job of generating a pass rush than it did against the Chargers. And that’s certainly true. The Eagles managed just one sack and six hurries against Philip Rivers.
But a much bigger problem was/is the coverage.
Rivers attempted 47 passes Sunday. Just five of those throws took longer than 2.6 seconds to get out of his hand. Twenty-nine of them were out in 2.2 seconds or less. Eight were out in 1.5 seconds or less.
Rivers threw three touchdown passes against the Eagles, all to slot receiver Eddie Royal. On the first one, an 11-yard catch-and-run, defensive coordinator Bill Davis sent the house – seven rushers. But Rivers got the ball out in 1.56 seconds to Royal, who ran a “hot’’ route to the outside.
Safety Nate Allen, who had one of the worst games of his career, was slow to come up and react to Royal and got caught behind wide receiver Vincent Brown, who ran an inside route. By the time Allen got to Royal, he already was at the two-yard line with the ball. Allen failed to prevent Royal from scoring.
Allen was again at fault on Rivers’ second touchdown throw to Royal early in the third quarter. On a third-and-10 at the Philadelphia 11, the Eagles only rushed three – Fletcher Cox, Cedric Thornton and Trent Cole. None of the three rushers got anywhere close to Rivers, who held the ball for 3.8 seconds and could have hung on to it for another five.
Royal, who lined up in the right slot, came across the field toward the left sideline. He should have been Allen’s responsibility, but for some reason, the safety elected to go with rookie Keenan Allen, who already was covered by cornerback Cary Williams. That left Royal wide open for an easy catch and score.
On Royal’s third touchdown, a 15-yarder off a quick screen, the Eagles’ other safety, Patrick Chung, lined up in the slot on Royal, but then blitzed. Royal again was the “hot’’ receiver, and Rivers got the ball out to him in less than a second.
Allen came up to cover Royal, but was late getting there. He seemed to hold up just as he got to the receiver, which allowed Chargers left tackle King Dunlap to block him out of the play.
Allen had problems all day, which is why rookie fifth-rounder Earl Wolff played 49 snaps against the Chargers after playing just eight against the Redskins in Week 1.
--He was called for a facemask penalty on the Chargers’ very first offensive play after the Eagles’ punt coverage unit had pinned them at their own 10.
--On a third-and-seven play at the San Diego 43 early in the third quarter, with the Eagles rushing six, Royal ran and out-and-up route. Cornerback Brandon Boykin, who was initially covering Royal, let him go, thinking he was passing him off to Allen. But there was an obvious miscommunication. Royal ended up with a 21-yard completion.
--He had a costly missed tackle on tight end Antonio Gates on the Chargers’ game-winning scoring drive. What should have been a three-yard catch turned into a 21-yard gain when Allen failed to bring him down. That gave the Chargers a first down at the Philadelphia 43 with 1:04 left.
As I mentioned earlier today, the Eagles couldn’t stop the Chargers on third down. They converted 10 of 15 third-down opportunities and 9 of 12 in the second half.
Rivers completed 12 of 13 passes for 122 yards and one touchdown on third down.
The Eagles sent five or more rushers after Rivers Sunday on 28 of 79 snaps. The Chargers quarterback completed 21 of 27 passes for 220 yards and 2 touchdowns when the Eagles blitzed. They were much more effective with the blitz in Week 1. The Redskins’ Robert Griffin III was just 8-for-21 for 78 yards, no touchdowns, an interception and two sacks when the Eagles sent five or more rushers.
--DeSean Jackson had nine catches for 193 yards and a touchdown. But that total could have been much higher. He had his way most of the day with Chargers cornerback Shareece Wright and the rest of the San Diego secondary.
He beat Wright deep late in the second quarter, but Michael Vick had to hurry his throw because of pressure from Dwight Freeney and overshot Jackson. That possession ended with Alex Henery sending a 46-yard field goal attempt wide right with four seconds left in the half.
In the third quarter, Jackson beat both Wright and safety Eric Weddle deep. But Vick’s throw went off his fingertips. Four plays later on that same possession, Vick and Jackson connected on a 37-yard touchdown pass. But rookie right tackle Lane Johnson was flagged for lining up off the line of scrimmage. The Eagles had to settle for a Henery field goal on that possession.
In the first two games, Jackson has 16 catches for 297 yards and 2 touchdowns. He’s already been targeted 24 times, which is 14 more times than the Eagles’ second most targeted receiver, Jason Avant. He already has six catches of 20 yards or more, which is just three fewer than he had all last season.
THIS AND THAT
--For the second straight week, Chip Kelly went with mainly “11’’ personnel (3 wide receivers, 1 running back, 1 tight end). He went with multiple tight ends on just 11 of 59 plays against the Chargers. Twice he used a three-tight end set – in the first quarter on a third-and-goal play at the two, and in the third quarter on a first down play at the San Diego 37. On the first one, Vick had James Casey open for a touchdown. But his throw was low and Casey couldn’t maintain control when he rolled over with the ball. On the second one, Vick hit rookie Zach Ertz on a cross for a 31-yard gain. In the first two games, the Eagles have used “11’’ personnel on 113 of 136 offensive plays.
--Damarus Johnson has played just four offensive snaps in the first two games. Part of that is he’s returning punts and kickoffs. And part of it is that Kelly isn’t crazy about the idea of putting the 5-8 Johnson on the field with the 5-9 ½ Jackson.
--So much for thinking the Eagles were going to feast on King Dunlap. The ex-Eagle did a pretty good job against his old team. Let Trent Cole get around him in the second quarter and strip the ball from running back Ryan Matthews. Got called for a hold and a false start. But held his own in protection – albeit often with help – and had that big block on Nate Allen to spring Eddie Royal on the fourth-quarter screen pass that he took in for a touchdown.
--Rookie right tackle Lane Johnson had a tough day. Got flagged twice for lining up off the line of scrimmage, including one that negated a Vick-to-Jackson touchdown pass. And struggled against Chargers edge rusher Dwight Freeney.
--If you appreciate great run-blocking, watching Jason Peters seal off two tacklers and open a hole for LeSean McCoy on his 17-yard run late in the first half was a thing of beauty.
--Imagine how many yards Rivers would have thrown for if Malcolm Floyd didn’t get hurt early in the third quarter.
--McCoy did a nice job of sealing off the outside for Vick on his two-yard touchdown run with a block on safety Eric Weddle.
BY THE NUMBERS
--In the last five quarters, opposing quarterbacks have completed 51 of 68 passes for 578 yards and five touchdowns against the Eagles. That’s a 75 percent completion rate. That’s 8.5 yards per attempt. That’s a 124.5 passer rating.
--The Chargers had just one three-and-out the entire game. They punted once, in the third quarter.
--The Eagles already have five takeaways in the first two games. They had 13 all last season. That’s the good news. The bad news is they’ve only scored twice off of those five turnovers.
--Vick is ranked third in the NFL in passing with a 119.0 rating behind Peyton Manning (131.0) and Aaron Rodgers (127.2).
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