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Game Recap: Chargers 33, Eagles 30

Chip Kelly’s offense sparkled for the second straight week, but it wasn’t enough to make up for a putrid defense that couldn’t get San Diego off the field or keep them out of the end zone.

The Eagles offense took a while to get going, and San Diego capitalized by racing out to a 13-3 lead in the second quarter. The Chargers moved the ball at will, both through the air and on the ground. Eventually, the Eagles slowed down RB Ryan Mathews, but they never found an answer for a rejuvenated Philip Rivers. Playing from behind, Chip Kelly deviated from his run-first strategy, giving LeSean McCoy only 11 carries. QB Michael Vick threw for a career-high 428 yards without committing a turnover and showed excellent command of the offense. He led the Eagles back into the game, but the defense simply couldn’t hold up. Aside from two forced turnovers in the red zone, the Eagles did nothing to slow the Chargers down. They were awful on third downs and allowed San Diego to control the ball and pace of the game. Though the Eagles eventually tied the game twice in the second half – once with a long DeSean Jackson touchdown and once with an Alex Henery field goal – the Chargers won with a go-ahead 46-yard-field goal. Here are the individual notes:

  • QB Michael Vick played one of his best career games and looks completely comfortable in Chip Kelly’s offense. He continues to throw the ball with elite arm strength and pinpoint accuracy and made no glaringly poor decisions. He has functioned as the team’s distributor and has gotten all his best playmakers involved. As long as he stays healthy, he will be a productive player in this system.
  • RB LeSean McCoy received only 16 touches, but took them for 167 yards and sprinkled in a few dazzling moves that Eagles fans have just grown to expect from him. He’s a perfect fit in an offense that wants to get players in space.
  • WR DeSean Jackson has finally found a coach that will use him correctly. Instead of acting as a decoy who runs deep patterns all game long, Jackson caught 9 passes for 193 yards and a score. He catches screens, runs intermediate routes, and has found open space on vertical patterns. His presence will make teams think twice about selling out to stop the run. On the down side, Jackson has been a bit of a hot head. He cost the team dearly with an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty and has narrowly escaped other flags after pushing and shoving opponents.
  • TE James Casey dropped a touchdown pass. It was a low throw and he nearly secured it, but he cost the Eagles 4 points and earned himself a spot on the bench. Rookie Zach Ertz replaced him as the ‘move’ tight end and ripped off gains of 31 and 27 yards. Ertz will be the starting tight end in 2014 and may very well lead this year’s group in all receiving categories.
  • Overall, the offensive line afforded Michael Vick plenty of time in the pocket and did an excellent job of sealing the edge in the run game. The left side of Jason Peters and Evan Mathis is potentially the best in the league, but RG Todd Herremans and RT Lane Johnson both have kinks to work out. Herremans has struggled so far this season and was beaten badly by Jarius Wynn in a one-on-one situation. Johnson was whistled for an illegal formation penalty that wiped out a DeSean Jackson touchdown and allowed some pressure from Dwight Freeney.
  • The defensive line had a very quiet game. In the first half, they were completely washed out in the running game but became stouter as the game went on. They applied very little pressure on Rivers on their own, although DE Fletcher Cox was able to get near the quarterback on several occasions.
  • OLBs Connor Barwin and Trent Cole look like the strengths of the defense. Barwin notched a sack while Cole forced his second fumble in two weeks. Cole in particular seems to be adjusting well to his role as a stand-up pass rusher.
  • ILB Mychal Kendricks’ assignment in coverage was Antonio Gates and he was beaten like a drum all day long. Kendricks may have great straight line speed, but Gates exposed his lateral movement skills and set him up with some excellent route running.
  • The true issue with the Eagles roster is clearly their secondary. Nate Allen has predictably looked like a practice squad talent at safety, missing tackles and playing too deep in zone coverage. Patrick Chung is a good tackler, but struggles mightily in coverage.
  • At the cornerback position, Brandon Boykin was one of the few bright spots on defense. He forced a big fumble and had tight coverage all day long. He got lost on a wheel route once, but was clearly the team’s best cover man. On the other side, Cary Williams followed up his solid game against the Redskins with a total dud. He was whistled for three pass interference calls and missed multiple tackles. He was repeatedly toasted when playing in an outside technique, giving the receiver the entire middle of the field to work with. It’s unclear if that technique is his decision or the coaches’, but all it does is invite big plays down the field.
  • K Alex Henery has been money from short distances, but hooked a 40-some yard try badly to end the half. Those points would likely have made a difference in the outcome of the game.
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