The Philadelphia Eagles dropped their home opener against the San Diego Chargers on a late field goal, losing 33-30. The point difference in the game was a missed field goal by Alex Henery in the first half, but the entire burden of the loss rests squarely on the shoulders of the defense.
The Eagles’ defense confirmed our concerns heading into the season. The first half of the Week 1 game against Washington was clearly an aberration due to the quality of the offense they were playing.
The Chargers just picked up where the Redskins left off in the second half of Week 1.
In the last six quarters of play, the Eagles’ defense has only forced one punt. In that same span, they’ve given up a whopping 846 yards of offense and 53 points. That equates to 141 yards and 8.8 points per quarter!
If they continue at this rate, that projects to an average of giving up roughly 35 points and 564 yards of offense per game this year. And to that I give my first big WTF!
However, there were some bright spots and positives to take away from the game. On to the WTG! awards first…
- DeSean Jackson! He posted nine catches for 193 yards and a TD and is well on his way to having a career year. He burned the San Diego secondary with his speed as he was able to consistently get behind the coverage.
- LeSean McCoy had another good game with 167 total yards on 11 carries and five receptions.
- Michael Vick played well in completing 23 out of 36 passes for 428 yards and two TDs. He also scored on the ground and posted a 123.4 QB rating. Vick continues to shine in Chip Kelly’s offense and as long as he stays healthy, he looks like he’ll have a pro bowl caliber year.
- Brandon Boykin was the only defensive player to stand out against the Chargers. He played extremely well on the outside while filling in for Bradley Fletcher. He had tight coverage most of the game and came up big with the forced fumble on Antonio Gates inside the 10-yard line.
- The special teams again played well, even though Alex Henery missed a 46 yard field goal. In terms of measuring how much improvement was made, this is easily the most improved area on the team.
- Chip Kelly changed-up his offensive game plan as compared to Week 1. It worked like a charm and if not for a few crucial errors, they would have scored more than 30 points.
- The Eagles won the turnover battle for the second consecutive week and finally had a game without committing one of their own.
Now, on to the much lengthier WTF list…
- Nate Allen had another brutal game. It was just embarrassing when he was stiff-armed by Ryan Mathews in the first quarter and then grabbed his face mask as he struggled to make the tackle. He was victimized repeatedly in the game and always seems a step late and slow.
- After an excellent Week 1, Cary Williams had a seriously bad Week 2. He killed the team with three costly pass interference penalties.
- The pass rush was non-existent against a Chargers offensive line that had a rookie at right tackle and King Dunlap at left tackle.
I think Eddie Royal just scored another touchdown.
- Speaking of Royal, did you see how wide open he was on his third quarter touchdown even though the defense dropped eight into coverage?
- The defense could not make a stop to save their lives. The Chargers had a 75% success rate on third down. Then, on only what would have been their second third down stop, Patrick Chung gets called for defensive holding to give San Diego a fresh set of downs, which led to a field goal on that drive.
- Alex Henery missed a 46 yard FG before halftime. The problem I had with that is that they had nine seconds on the clock when they sent him in. Nine seconds is enough time to try a quick play to the sideline to possibly get a couple more yards…which could have made a difference.
- DeSean Jackson had a great game, but he also had a huge blunder when he was penalized for unnecessary roughness after Vick scored on a two-yard TD run to put the Eagles up 27-23.
That penalty caused the Eagles to have to kickoff from the 20 which allowed for a return that, with the help of a fumble, ultimately gave the Chargers killer field position at the Eagles’ 39 yard line to start their next drive. In essence, that was a 41-yard penalty that gave the Chargers an easy TD drive.
- Lane Johnson was called for an illegal formation penalty that wiped out a touchdown. They ultimately had to settle for a field goal on that drive.
- Bill Davis. Why do I mention him specifically? Because of these quotes from Cary Williams and DeMeco Ryans (courtesy of Tim McManus):
“Phillip Rivers just seemed to know everything that we were trying to throw at him,” said Cary Williams.
“They understood some of our calls or whatever was going on, it looked like he knew exactly what DeMeco [Ryans] was calling to a degree. He knew exactly what we were in to a degree. It was unfortunate. Sometimes you get outwitted, sometimes you get outplayed and I think today was one of those days.”
If an offense consistently recognizes your defensive looks, that’s bad coaching and game-planning. We heard very similar things during the Sean McDermott and Juan Castillo eras.
- Penalties. The Eagles were charged with nine on the day and many of them directly correlated to the scoreboard.
Over all, the good news is that Chip Kelly’s offense is the real deal. It’s only been two weeks, but Vick, McCoy and Jackson are exploding and are on pace for a record-setting season.
The bad news is that the defense is who we thought they were entering the season. They will continue to be a “work in progress” all season and we’re likely in store for another long year of watching teams score at will against us.
Fortunately, the entire NFC East has problems. The Eagles arguably look like the best team in a crappy division at this point. If the offense keeps up their current pace, the Eagles should find themselves in the mix for the division crown by the end of the year.