Heading into Sunday, the perception is that the Philadelphia Eagles are one of the league's top teams and the San Diego Chargers are one of the league's worst teams. However, as we all know, one game and one week does not make an entire season. So, I decided to ask Brandon Gower from Bleeding Green Nation his thoughts on the team he covers and their new head coach.
John Gennaro: The Eagles had an up-and-down game in Week 1, much like the Chargers but with a happier ending. What strengths did you see in the first half and what weaknesses were exposed in the second half to let the Redskins shrink the Philly lead?
Brandon Gowton: I actually wrote about this topic on BGN. If you look at the Eagles' win probability chart during that Washington game, you can see that they were never in serious danger of losing. The offense's tempo was an obvious strength for the Eagles in the first half. Philly moved the ball down the field seemingly at will. The Redskins defense did not have an answer for the Eagles attack. On defense, the Eagles forced turnovers which led to good field position and more scoring opportunities.
Taking their foot off the gas in the second half was the weakness that we saw. The Eagles were content with dropping back in coverage and allowing the Redskins offense to dink and dunk down the field while running time off the clock. It is surely possible the Eagles decided to dial back their aggressive first half nature too early, but I maintain that the Eagles had more control of that game than the final score indicated.
JG: Without a real star, the Chargers passing offense looks to spread defenses out and force them to try and defend four or five receivers at a time. Is the Eagles secondary good enough, and deep enough, to handle that?
BG: In short: no. This is the Eagles game day depth chart at cornerback: Cary Williams, Brandon Boykin, Brandon Hughes, and Jordan Poyer. Recently acuqired Shaun Prater doesn't have the playbook down yet and Bradley Fletcher, the Eagles starting CB opposite Cary, is out with a concussion. Williams had a nice game against the Skins (an interception, a sack, and a clutch 4th down deflection) but I still see him as an up and down player. Boykin is better than people know. Hughes is a veteran depth CB, and Poyer is a 7th round rookie who does not look like a reliable NFL player at this time.
The safeties aren't exactly inspiring either. Patrick Chung can tackle but isn't known for his coverage skills. Nate Allen is better in coverage but not as great of a tackler. This could be a tough matchup for the Eagles secondary. Generating pressure on San Diego could go a long way to help hide the Eagles' issues in the secondary.
JG: Is it fair to say that Michael Vick, like Philip Rivers, is expected to make a few bad decisions in each game?
BG: Absolutely. Chip's offense has seemed to lessen those bad decisions for Vick, but there are still errant throws and questionable moments. At this point in his career, much like Rivers I suppose, for the most part Vick is who he is. You have to live with the good and bad.
JG: What is the Eagles' weak point defensively: D-line, linebackers or secondary?
BG: Secondary. There is a lack of talent and depth. For more, revisit answer number 2.
JG: How much of an advantage do you think is now lost with a regular-season game's worth of film of Chip Kelly's Eagles offense being available for other teams to study?
BG: Minimal. Chip Kelly's offense isn't just about tricking the other team. It's about creating mismatches and simply executing. Kelly isn't always trying to hide what's coming. He's daring the opposition to stop it.
JG: Alright, bonus question time. Geno's, Pat's, Jim's or Ishkabibble's?
BG: Huh? The Pats beat Geno and the Jets Thursday night. Wasn't that obvious? Jokes aside, I say sure, you have to go to Geno's and Pat's. Even if they really are just tourist traps, you just have to do it. As for which cheesesteak place is the best, I'll leave that up to the Philly commenters to make their case...