We have a jam-packed edition of our weekly “Five Questions” segment and it’s all thanks to our very own Brandon Lee Gowton over at Bleeding Green Nation. Brandon is one of the best out there so you know you’re getting the high-quality content you deserve whenever he’s involved.
Without further ado, let’s get right to it.
1.) The Chargers just can’t seem to get away from teams who love to run the football. In this specific case, the Eagles are sixth in rushing offense this year with quarterback Jalen Hurts leading the way in both yards and touchdowns. How do you feel about this matchup knowing the Chargers’ run defense is at the bottom of the league? How much does that raise the confidence level of the fan base despite the Eagles sub-.500 record coming into this game?
Definitely the number one matchup that jumps to mind. For once, Nick Sirianni actually decided to run the ball consistently. And it resulted in the Eagles’ offensive line asserting their will on the Detroit Lions. Boston Scott and Jordan Howard took advantage of good blocking to contribute to a big day on the ground. Jalen Hurts had some really good runs as well.
Now, can the Eagles keep it up? One would expect them to try. But I’m also expecting the Chargers to adjust. I can understand Brandon Staley’s desire to invite the run because it’s typically a less efficient method than passing. But the Chargers should be looking to put this game on Jalen Hurts’ arm and not give the Eagles what they want on the ground.
But even if the Chargers are *intentionally* bad against the run, one would think they can’t just flip the switch to suddenly having one of the league’s best defenses in that regard. Thus, the Eagles should have some opportunities to run the ball efficiently.
2.) The Eagles offense is called by former Chargers offensive coordinator Shane Steichen. How would you say he has performed thus far in his first season with Philadelphia? Is there anything you would change about his play-calling tendencies?
Nick Sirianni handles the play-calling but Steichen does obviously hold influence as the OC. It’s hard to parse exactly how much blame/credit he deserves. I remember you telling me that Chargers fans were “relieved” that he left for Philly. Based on that and his obvious connection to Sirianni, I can’t say I was thrilled by the hire. It would’ve been nice to see the Eagles head coach add an OC from a different background — not just his buddy — for the sake of diversification.
I suppose it’ll be interesting to see if Steichen’s familiarity with the Chargers will help the Eagles at all in this game. Perhaps he can give them some extra insight on Justin Herbert and other offensive players.
3.) If you were Chargers’ offensive coordinator Joe Lombardi, how would you go about game-planning against this Eagles defense? Are there any concepts that give them problems? What players would you try to stay away from?
For most of the season, the Eagles have been content with sitting back in their Cover 2 defense. They’ve prioritized preventing the big play. While that’s all well and good in theory, it hasn’t played out so well in reality. The Eagles’ soft looks have been picked apart by non-terrible quarterbacks such as Dak Prescott, Patrick Mahomes, Tom Brady, and Derek Carr. Those guys were able to successfully executive long scoring drives. Against lesser quarterbacks, though, Jonathan Gannon’s defense has been more successful. It’s been harder for them to sustain drives without making mistakes somewhere along the way.
Justin Herbert’s been struggling recently so I’m not sure what to make of where he’s at right now. He might not be helped by the hand injury he’s dealing with. But if he can get back to his top form, he should be able to have success by taking what the Eagles defense is giving him underneath. That is, assuming the Eagles go back to their Cover 2 and don’t carry over their adjustments from the Lions. Gannon was much more aggressive in Detroit, sending blitzes as a high rate and showing more single-high looks.
The two Eagles defenders I’d say the Chargers especially need to account for: defensive tackle Javon Hargrave and cornerback Darius Slay. Hargrave got off to an All-Pro start with six sacks in his first five games. He hasn’t had a sack in his last three games, though, and it’s possible that’s related to the shoulder injury he’s playing through. Still, Hargrave has shown the ability to create a lot of interior disruption. As for Slay, he obviously has a reputation as one of the best corners in the league. I would guess he’ll be following Keenan Allen. It’s not like the Chargers should be expected to not target Allen entirely but they might have to be more selective about that approach as opposed to running the entire passing offense through him.
4.) Same question as above but flip sides of the ball. If you were Chargers defensive coordinator Renaldo Hill, how would you try to attack this defense? Are their any weak points up front? Which players should they worry about the most?
Touched on this earlier but I would sell out to stop the run and make Hurts beat the Chargers with his arm. Hurts is a limited talent as a passer. He lacks superior arm strength, he doesn’t even bother to target the middle of the field, he bails the pocket too early, and he holds on to the ball for too long. If Hurts beats the Chargers because he has a sensational day through the air, that’s something the opposition should be willing to live with.
As far as weak points up front go, the Eagles have a pretty solid offensive line. There aren’t any total liabilities up there. That being said, starting left tackle Jordan Mailata is banged up right now between a knee issue and an elbow injury. I’d look to move Joey Bosa over to his side and test him out.
5.) Go ahead and give us a final score prediction along with a few sentences on how you think this game will play out.
I’d be lying if I said I feel amazing about the Eagles just because they blew out the Lions. I still think this team has a number of flaws. That being said, it’s also hard to had a ton of confidence in the Chargers right now. Philly might very well be able to take advantage of them on the ground.
And I just know the Eagles are ready to spite me for wishing they could’ve had Brandon Staley instead of Nick Sirianni. And for how I thought Herbert was going to be MVP and a talent the Eagles should aspire to have instead of Hurts.
So, I’ll take the Eagles to win this one. It’ll be close but the Birds will ultimately pull it out, 27 to 24.