5 initial observations on Eagles-Chiefs this Thursday

Eagles wide receiver DeSean Jackson. (Clem Murray/Staff Photographer)

1) More gaudy numbers could be in store for DeSean Jackson Thursday night. Jackson leads the NFL in receiving yards, receptions of 20+ yards, receptions of 40+ yards, and 1st down catches. He's 4th in receptions, and 10th in yards per catch among receivers who have caught at least 6 passes. And he even had a 37 yard TD called back last week because of a Lane Johnson illegal formation penalty.

In other words, DeSean Jackson is the man.

The Chiefs have a pair of good CBs in Brandon Flowers and Sean Smith. However, both players are at a matchup disadvantage against DeSean Jackson. Flowers has gotten every little bit out of his less than impressive measurables, but the bottom line is that he is simply not a fast player. At the NFL Combine in 2008, Flowers ran a 4.55, a terrible time for a CB playing on the outside. Here is how his measurables compare to all CBs who have worked out at the Combine since 1999, via mockdraftable.com:

Oftentimes, whenever Combine numbers are brought up, the retort is to say that football is not played in spandex shorts. However, Flowers' lack of speed is evident on tape. Against the Cowboys last week, Dez Bryant ran a straight go route against Flowers. There was nothing deceiving about his route, and Flowers did not even try to jam him at the line (which can often lead to open routes down the field if the CB misses his jam). Flowers merely turned and ran with Bryant, but he was blown away:

Should the Eagles search for safeties now?

  • 1071 (78.5%)
  • 293 (21.5%)
  • 1364

On the other side, the Chiefs have 6'4 CB Sean Smith. That is incredible size for a CB, but what Smith has in size he often lacks in speed and agility. Here were Smith's Combine numbers in 2009, again, via mockdraftable.com:

Look for Jackson to have another long gainer or two Thursday night.

2) In Week 2, the Eagles could not keep the Chargers from having long, sustained drives. The Chargers had 7 drives of longer than 50 yards last Sunday. By comparison, the Chiefs have had 3 drives of longer than 50 yards in their first two games combined. The Chiefs are 2-0, but it has mainly been because of their defense. The offense has not looked very impressive. The Eagles' defense need to put their Week 2 stinkfest in the rear view mirror, and the Chiefs' offense may afford them that opportunity.

3) The Chiefs are +4 in turnover differential. They are tied for 2nd in the NFL in that category. The Eagles are +3. They are tied for 4th. Chiefs QB Alex Smith isn't going to "wow" anyone with 30 yard lasers down the seam, but he has done a tremendous job of learning not to turn the ball over. Smith's INT % from 2011-2013 is 1.36%.

To put in perspective how low that percentage is, Aaron Rodgers is the all time career leader at 1.71%. Here are the all-time leaders in that category:

While he isn't going to make many big plays, Smith isn't going to make many unforced errors either. The Eagles have won the turnover battle in each of their first two games this season. Winning that battle for the 3rd straight week will be difficult.

4) The Chiefs had 4 players on their defense who made the Pro Bowl last year, despite a 2-14 record. Those 4 players are S Eric Berry, LB Derrick Johnson, LB Justin Houston, and LB Tamba Hali. The Chiefs have a number of other talented players on their defense, including the aforementioned Brandon Flowers, and a player who stood out to me in the Dallas game, DL Dontari Poe. This is by far the best defense the Eagles will face so far this season.

5) The Chiefs have the 2nd youngest starting offensive line in the NFL (projected starters as of July 2013):

Rank Team Avg days on Earth Avg age
Oldest Jets 10,808 29 years, 7 months, 3 days
2 Giants 10,622 29 years, 30 days
3 Rams 10,576 28 years, 11 months, 16 days
4 Patriots 10,562 28 years, 11 months
5 Chargers 10,547 28 years, 10 months, 16 days
6 Saints 10,538 28 years, 10 months, 7 days
7 Texans 10,527 28 years, 9 months, 27 days
8 Eagles 10,488 28 years, 8 months, 18 days
9 Redskins 10,459 28 years, 7 months, 20 days
10 Panthers 10,417 28 years, 6 months, 6 days
11 Bears 10,294 28 years, 5 months, 5 days
12 49ers 10,256 28 years, 29 days
13 Bucs 10,228 28 years, 1 day
14 Broncos 10,223 27 years, 11 months, 27 days
15 Titans 10,214 27 years, 11 months, 18 days
16 Lions 10,214 27 years, 11 months, 18 days
17 Raiders 10,203 27 years, 11 months, 6 days
18 Colts 10,192 27 years, 10 months, 26 days
19 Ravens 10,175 27 years, 10 months, 9 days
20 Bills 10,141 27 years, 9 months, 5 days
21 Jaguars 10,086 27 years, 7 months, 12 days
22 Dolphins 10,045 27 years, 5 months, 30 days
23 Bengals 10,044 27 years, 5 months, 29 days
24 Seahawks 9,943 27 years, 2 months, 20 days
25 Browns 9,873 27 years, 11 days
26 Vikings 9,857 26 years, 11 months, 26 days
27 Cowboys 9,808 26 years, 10 months, 7 days
28 Falcons 9,688 26 years, 6 months, 7 days
29 Cardinals 9,491 25 years, 11 months, 25 days
30 Packers 9,481 25 years, 11 months, 15 days
31 Chiefs 9,349 25 years, 7 months, 5 days
Youngest Steelers 9,097 24 years, 10 months, 27 days

Here are those Chiefs offensive linemen, and their individual ages (rank is based on age of 160 starting offensive linemen, league wide):

The Chiefs have a good defense, a QB who does not turn the ball over, a great RB, and a very young, promising OL. With the Raiders turning over their entire roster, the Broncos eventually losing Peyton Manning, and the Chargers defense looking the way it did on Sunday against the Eagles, the Chiefs are in a prime position to rule the AFC West within the next 2-3 years.

But for now, that is a lot of inexperience along the OL. The Eagles' secondary is getting most of the heat for the defensive debacle against San Diego, but the pass rush was non-existent. They absolutely must do a better job creating some pressure against this very young group of blockers.