Chargers Preview: Getting To Know The Philadelphia Eagles
The Los Angeles Chargers are coming off an awful back-to-back stretch of games after losing big to the Baltimore Ravens and getting handled by Bill Belichick and the Patriots this past Sunday. Thankfully, the upcoming matchup with the 3-5 Philadelphia Eagles could be just what the doctor ordered. Let’s dive in.
2020 Season In Review
From 2016-2019 the Philadelphia Eagles experienced a lot of success as an organization. They of course won the Super Bowl in 2017 after going on a Cinderella-type postseason run. They also won a playoff game the following year and made the playoffs again in 2019. Then came the disastrous season of 2020 where they tied a game in week three, tanked a game in week 17, which resulted in a four-win season, the firing of their Super Bowl-winning head coach, and subsequent trade of their former franchise quarterback.
Doesn’t get much worse than that for an NFL franchise. Still, I think the Eagles fans and franchise would do it all again knowing that they’ll always have the 2017 Super Bowl win.
Key Additions And Departures
The Eagles obviously are in a transition phase at the two most important roles in the sport. After firing Doug Pederson, they decided to hire Nick Sirianni as their next head coach – after they missed out on Brandon Staley. They then decided to hand the keys (at least temporarily) to Jalen Hurts, after they traded Carson Wentz to Sirianni’s former employer.
They also entered into a transition phase in terms of cap space. Their only real additions in free agency were safety Anthony Harris and cornerback Steven Nelson. Both have been starting for them and have been solid additions, but they came over on one-year deals at very cheap prices, which really was a trend league-wide.
They were also rumored to be trading Zach Ertz all offseason long, something the Chargers flirted with before the draft, and finally did so a few weeks ago after agreeing to a deal with the Cardinals.
The Eagles’ draft picks from this past year have been pretty solid. DeVonta Smith was their first-round selection and is currently their leading receiver. Landon Dickerson (second-rounder) and Kenneth Gainwell (fifth-rounder) are currently starting and playing well after becoming starters due to injuries in front of them. Milton Williams (third-rounder) has been a solid rotational player behind Fletcher Cox and Javon Hargrave. The rest of the class included defensive back Zach McPhearson, defensive tackle Marlon Tuipulotu, edge rushers Tarron Jackson and Patrick Johnson, and defensive back Jacoby Stevens. They also received rookie cornerback Tay Gowan from the Cardinals in the trade for Ertz.
From a roster-building standpoint, the Eagles were in a tough spot heading into the season. Most of their core players are old, injury-prone, or extremely young. The season needed to be about player development above all else. Players like Hurts, Smith, Dickerson, Andre Dillard, Jalen Reagor, Dallas Goedert, etc. need to prove that they could take over for the players like Ertz, Jason Kelce, and Lane Johnson. In the same vein, Sirianni needs to show that he can be the guy to lead the franchise into the next era.
They are armed with a lot of draft capital for the future and are currently projected to have three top ten picks in next year’s draft courtesy of the Colts and Dolphins failing to meet expectations. They’ll be involved in all the Rusell Wilson and Aaron Rodgers rumors next spring because of those picks, but Howie Roseman and company need to be playing the long game here. Any wins they experience this season are just gravy
History Against The Chargers
The Chargers have played the Eagles 12 times in their history and lead the all-time series 7-5. They’ve played each other five times since 2000, with the Eagles winning three of the five. The Eagles won the last matchup 26-24, which came in October 2017 in Carson.
The Chargers offense had a good day moving the ball, Philip Rivers threw for 347 yards and two touchdowns. Keenan Allen and Tyrell Williams combined for 10 catches, 253 yards, and one score. Rivers threw his second score to Hunter Henry with 6:53 seconds left in the fourth quarter, but the defense was unable to stop LeGarrette Blount and the Eagles rushing attack in order to give the offense the ball back.
The Eagles’ three wins are a little misleading. They blew out the Atlanta Falcons on opening weekend, when they were mostly healthy, and blew out the Lions this last week. Other than that they barely beat the Panthers, and have mostly been getting beat pretty handily by the good teams that they have played. They’ve lost to the Cowboys, Buccaneers, Chiefs, and Raiders by a combined 49 points, and each of those defeats would have been worse if not for garbage time touchdown drives by Hurts.
The Chargers’ offense has been exposed by two very experienced and creative defensive minds in Wink Martindale and Belichick over the last two games. That’s not what’s been happening in Philadelphia, where Eagles defensive coordinator Jonathan Gannon is running one of the most static defenses in the league. Justin Herbert and company should be able to get back on track in this one, and I think they’ll win pretty easily. For now, I’ll predict 30-20 in favor of the Bolts.