Double Coverage: Chargers at Eagles
September, 13, 2013
By Phil Sheridan | ESPN.com
USA TODAY Sports, Getty ImagesSan Diego will have to rotate Dwight Freeney to keep him fresh against Michael Vick and the Eagles.PHILADELPHIA -- The similarities were striking, and then everything was completely different.
New head coaches made their debuts Monday night for the Philadelphia Eagles and the San Diego Chargers. Both teams held big leads early in the third quarter.
Chip Kelly’s Eagles hung on for the win. Mike McCoy’s Chargers lost on a field goal as time expired.
As a result, the mood in Philadelphia is downright giddy as the city prepares for Kelly’s home opener Sunday against the Chargers. The mood in San Diego is a bit different.
Let’s start there.
Phil Sheridan: How are the Chargers handling that dispiriting loss?
Bill Williamson: I think we will see the answer to that question on Sunday. The Chargers are saying the right things and they are going about their business. But this loss was devastating. San Diego led Houston 28-7 in the third quarter before being outscored 24-0 to end the game. San Diego was known for blowing leads in the Norv Turner era. To start the Mike McCoy era the same way has to sting badly. The Chargers looked really good for most of this game. But they have to wallow in the defeat. I wouldn’t be surprised if it takes them a while to get out of the funk Sunday.
Are the Eagles in any danger of being overconfident?
Sheridan: Actually, I think they are. There has been a lot of talk this week about how they showed the world they’re a legitimate contender now, and that Kelly’s offense can work and so forth. Meanwhile, they have former coach Andy Reid coming back Sept. 19 for a much-hyped game against Kansas City. This is a bit of a trap game, for sure.
Can the Chargers handle Kelly’s no-huddle, high-pressure offense?
Williamson: This is not the easiest team to prepare for after such a painful defeat. One of the reasons the Chargers fell apart Monday night was because the defense wore down. It was a nice, comfortable night in San Diego against a normal-paced offense. What is going to happen on a hot day in Philadelphia against Kelly’s amped offense? San Diego has a decent defense but it lacks depth, especially on the line and in the secondary. Keeping bodies fresh could be an issue.
Did the Eagles wear down themselves on Monday night?
Sheridan: They definitely did. It was very humid at FedEx Field. Center Jason Kelce said he needed to hit the oxygen tank for the first time since college (in fairness, it was only Kelce’s 19th NFL game). Kelly said he would be more careful to rotate players in order to keep them fresh. But this will be an issue all season for the Eagles.
Is Dwight Freeney the player he was in Indianapolis?
Williamson: In short, no. But he’s not bad. Freeney, 33, was very active against Houston. He had a half sack, but he was in the backfield often. The question is, can Freeney handle the Kelly attack on a regular basis? He is more of a rotational player. Keeping him on the field against the Eagles may be difficult. I could see his effectiveness wearing down late in the game if he doesn’t get a chance to rest much.
Is the Eagles' defense as good as it appeared against Robert Griffin III?
Sheridan: That is very much up in the air. RG III was not at all himself in his first live action since blowing out his knee last season in the playoffs. He found a rhythm in the second half, and the Eagles were not able to stop him. Philip Rivers is obviously a very different kind of quarterback. This Eagles secondary could be vulnerable to a smart, accurate passer -- especially if starting cornerback Bradley Fletcher (concussion) isn’t able to play.