The Philadelphia Eagles are hosting the Los Angeles Chargers at Lincoln Financial Field on Sunday afternoon. In order to preview this Week 9 late game, I reached out to our enemies over at Bolts From The Blue. The magnificent Michael Peterson kindly took the time to answer my questions about this upcoming tilt. Let’s take a look at the answers.
1 - Much has been made of the Chargers’ poor run defense, especially following a big Eagles win where Philly ran the ball all over Detroit. To what extent do the Chargers invite the run by design and do you think Brandon Staley will adjust to make Jalen Hurts beat the Chargers with his arm?
To stop the Eagles rushing attack, I expect Staley to potentially use Joey Bosa all across the line in the same manner they used against the Ravens. Bosa normally plays in a two-point stance on the edge but saw around 20 snaps at an interior position in Baltimore. It obviously wasn’t enough though since they still got rail-roaded. If the Eagles are able to run the ball while spread out, the Chargers will attempt to get Bosa, Kyler Fackrell, and Uchenna Nwosu all on the field at the same time to maximize athleticism while not sacrificing a ton of size up front.
2 - Brandon Staley has gotten some Coach of the Year buzz. To what extent are you satisfied with him thus far?
Staley, certainly through the team’s first five games, deserved all of the buzz he got for Coach of the Year. However, these past two games really dampened those warm fuzzies. While he’s not calling the offense directly, his inability to work with offensive coordinator Joe Lombardi in getting this unit prepared for what they saw against the Ravens and Patriots is worrisome. John Harbaugh and Bill Belichick are insanely good coaches so I’m not surprised to see them get the best of Staley, it was just surprising how MUCH they were able to out-coach him at the time.
Still, it’s early enough in the season that we could all be singing a completely different tune by the end of the year. If Staley bring the Chargers to the postseason in his first year at the helm, all of these struggles will be forgotten immediately.
3 - What’s the confidence level in Justin Herbert right now? He’s coming off two not so good games.
I’d still say the confidence in Justin Herbert is fairly high. You could argue that the two interceptions he threw against New England should never have happened and then we’d be probably be talking about the 5-2 Chargers instead of the 4-3 team coming to Philadelphia. The ball to Ekeler on the tip-drill pick was a bit high but the miscommunication with Jared Cook on the dagger pick-six was just incredibly frustrating. Lombardi’s seat is already starting to get hot. If things look that bad this weekend, he won’t last long with this team.
4 - What is the Chargers’ biggest strength? How should they be attacking the Eagles?
The Chargers’ biggest strength this year has been the pass defense. They’re currently fifth in that category, allowing 203.0 yards per game through seven games. Apart from that, it’s tough to point at anything else being a real “strength” of this team. The offense has been incredibly lackluster with neither the passing game nor rushing attack being all that noteworthy. A major strength used to be their efficiency on money downs, but that’s been thrown out the window ever since the Ravens game three weeks ago.
With the Eagles allowing quite a few yards on the ground (123.5 per game), I could see the Chargers trying to alleviate some pressure off of Herbert by getting the ground game going behind Austin Ekeler and their group of young backs. I still believe Herbert is at his best when he’s able to go up-tempo and sling it around the yard, but Joe Lombardi’s lackluster play-calling as of late just hasn’t put the Chargers in the position to stay ahead of the chains. Who would have thought that asking your young quarterback to consistently throw the team out of third-and-long situations wouldn’t work every single week?
5 - What is the Chargers’ biggest weakness? What should the Eagles be looking to exploit?
Run defense, run defense, run defense. The Eagles are among the league’s best in running the football and they’d be insane not to follow the same formula used by the Ravens and Patriots. Run the football, shorten the game, and then play games on defense early and often. The right side of the offensive line is the next biggest issue. Storm Norton and Michael Schofield are having a rough go of things as of late. Norton’s allowed an immense amount of pressures the past two games which means there’s a chance for someone on the Eagles defensive line to have a good day.
6 - Who wins this game and why? Score prediction? And what are your expectations for the rest of this Chargers season?
I believe the Chargers will finally get back to their winning ways with what should be the easiest game on their schedule thus far. The matchup with Philly’s run game worries me, but it looks like that unit runs through their quarterback’s legs and I believe that will be easier to contain in the end. Hurts is good, but he’s not Lamar Jackson. I think the Bolts let up over 100 yards on the ground but the Eagles will have to earn it. The woes on offense for the Chargers has to end at some point and I believe this will be the game in which things get back on track. Let’s call it Chargers 27-20.
As for the rest of the season, I think things really do lighten up on their schedule following next week’s game against the Vikings. Again, another run-first team is bound to give them fits. But after that, they’ve got two games against the Broncos along with matchups against the Steelers and Giants. If they can run the table in the AFC West, that will go a long way in solidifying their place in the postseason.