The Eagles home opener is Sunday at 1pm. Has there been this much hype for a home opener in recent years? I sure can’t recall a situation like this unless you go back to TO’s debut. Let’s set the excitement aside and talk football.
WHEN EAGLES HAVE THE BALL
Many analysts speculated this week about how the Chargers would defend the Eagles. Most feel SD will load the box and blitz. Better to be aggressive and try to dictate than to sit back and let the offense control you.
I do think the Chargers will do a lot of this. It does make sense. And WAS had their best results when attacking. There is a difference. The OL has now had a week to work together. They also won’t be on the road dealing with crowd noise. There will be music, but that’s different than 70,000 fans.
I think the Eagles will use 2 TEs more this week. The Chargers base defense has some holes. Better to deal with that than getting them in Nickel, Dime looks. Keep Dwight Freeney at OLB and run at him. Attack ILB Bront Bird as much as possible. He had a bunch of tackles last week, but many were downfield.
If the Chargers do plan to crowd the box and blitz, the Eagles will have to respond by throwing the ball vertically. Not one pass last week went more than 30 yards in the air. Expect that to change. DeSean Jackson caught several short passes in the opener. He’ll be asked to stretch the defense vs SD.
That’s obvious, though, so you know Kelly will have some other ideas. Maybe Zach Ertz is a downfield target. Riley Cooper? Kelly will have some smart wrinkles that will stretch the SD defense.
Kelly believes in moves and counter-moves. He won’t run the same stuff as last week. He knows the Chargers will have studied that tape thoroughly. Expect Kelly to run a different offense. There will be 2 TEs. Maybe Damaris Johnson gets touches.
And I’m fairly certain that the backup RBs will get touches. I’m excited to see what Bryce Brown can do.
The real key is for the OL to control the LOS. Jason Peters will have his hands full with Freeney on some plays. Dwight has moments when he’s exceptionally quick. There are other plays when he’s easily blocked. The Texans were 28-120 on the ground last week. Their OL was able to get movement on run plays.
The Eagles should be able to move the ball and score points.
WHEN THE CHARGERS HAVE THE BALL
Very different opponent. The Chargers look like more of a passing team. I’m interested to see how Bill Davis attacks them. With WAS, there was no question. You needed to crowd the line and stuff the run.
Davis may still focus on stopping the Chargers run game and then forcing them into known passing situations.
It will be very interesting to see if Vinny Curry is active. He is one of the Eagles best pass rushers. There was logic to not playing him vs a running team. This would seem to be the week to get him on the field, at DE, OLB and DT. I’m not saying you play him 40 snaps, but he can be a helpful role player if the game goes as expected.
The Chargers saw the Skins light up the Eagles for parts of the 2nd half. The defense was somewhat passive, since they were protecting a lead. There were also some backups on the field. The starters played good pass defense early on. Will the Chargers think passing the ball is the way to attack? Will they think back to the preseason, when the Eagles had some struggles with run defense?
CB Bradley Fletcher is out. Brandon Boykin will start in his place. Boykin is short at 5-9 and you can bet the Chargers will try to use WR Malcolm Floyd (6-5) against him. Boykin is a terrific slot corner, but we don’t know how he’ll play on the outside.
I’m excited to see what Mychal Kendricks will do. Chase Philip Rivers is a lot more fun than chasing RG3.
The Eagles front seven should have a major advantage on the Chargers OL. I will be very disappointed if Trent Cole doesn’t get the best of King Dunlap. Trent doesn’t have to get a sack, but he needs to be disruptive. I would expect Cole to use power rush moves and try to drive Dunlap straight back to Rivers.
Is asking for more takeaways just being greedy? The Eagles only had takeaways in consecutive games twice in 2012. Rivers threw an INT last week and 15 last year. It would be great to see Nate Allen make a play in the passing game.
I don’t have major STs thoughts. If the Eagles want to go for a FG block, expect them to attack the right side of the Chargers line. Rookie Ladarius Green (#89) is the wing there and isn’t overly keen on blocking. He could be beat with a hard rush off the edge.
I did have a dream last night that the Eagles blocked a free kick after a safety. Dave Fipp is a terrific coach, but that might be asking a lot even for him.
The one thing about this game that makes me the most uncomfortable is how confident everyone is. I agree that the Eagles are the better team. They should win this game.
The Eagles lost some games like this over the years. Arizona in recent years. The Raiders. The Bengals. And so on.
Chip Kelly always had his Oregon teams focused. If Kelly can keep the Eagles focused when the whole world is trying to blow sunshine up their collective skirt, that will be a great sign and the Eagles will likely win. If all the hype gets through to the players, then all bets are off and we won’t know what to expect.
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I’ve got a couple of great links up at ScoutsNotebook. Check them out.
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The Jags cut LB Chris McCoy. Would be great to see the Eagles add him to the practice squad.
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Sheil Kapadia wrote a couple of previews.