What an excellent offensive outing the Eagles had yesterday. But on the other hand, what a pathetic defensive outing they had. Sure, they managed to compile 511 offensive yards, but they gave up even more than that on defense. They may have had zero turnovers, but they had 9 penalties for 82 yards, many of them coming on defense. They may have only been sacked one time, but their defense only got one sack as well. If the Eagles want to actually win some games this year, they need to be able to perform on both offense and defense.
QB Michael Vick threw for a career high 428 yards yesterday, had 2 passing TDs, a rushing TD, and zero total turnovers. Vick looked like he did two years ago, creating offense at will and leading the team to 30 points. RB LeSean McCoy had 167 yards on 16 touches, which is a phenomenal average of just over 10 yards per play. WR DeSean Jackson had his second-highest receiving total for one game yesterday, gathering 193 yards and a TD on 9 receptions. Jackson already has two 100-yard receiving games this year, which is equal to the total he had in both 2011 and 2012. Even TE Zach Ertz and WR Riley Cooper pitched in, the latter of whom had a TD. There was no doubt in my mind that the Eagles played an excellent offensive game yesterday. But the scary part is, the Chargers did even better on offense…
The Chargers outperformed the Eagles yardage-wise 539-511, were an astounding 10/15 on third down conversions, ran 79 plays (compared to the Eagles’ 58), and more than doubled the Eagles in time of possession. Those stats prove that the Chargers deserved to win that game. Some might argue that the Eagles were just able to score more quickly, which may be true given their 8.8 yards per play, but the inability to use up a lot of clock could come back to haunt them. Because if they’re not using up clock, it gives the opponents flexibility to score when they want and have enough time to come back if necessary, which is exactly what the Chargers did. Philip Rivers looked amazing out there and totally took apart the Eagles defense.
Actually, it’s hard to tell if the Eagles defense even exists. They’re giving up the third most YPG, 30.0 PPG, and the fifth most total points. Those are not indications of a good defense, and are not any better than the horrific stats of last year. I understand that the switch from the 4-3 to the 3-4 are going to lead to some early struggles as players get used to the new system, but this seems a little extreme. They really shouldn’t be playing this bad, no matter what their excuse is. They have some great defensive talent such as Fletcher Cox, Trent Cole, DeMeco Ryans, Connor Barwin, and Patrick Chung. But the majority of their secondary is suspect at best, and is even worse without one of their starting CBs (Bradley Fletcher missed the game due to a concussion). If this is what the defense is going to look like for the whole year, it doesn’t matter how good the offense is. They can’t win games on offense alone…they need some help defensively.
The Eagles also need some help from their special teams. While Alex Henery is doing a fine job at kicker, I’m a little unsure how good punter Donnie Jones really is. Sure, he was an All-Pro punter last year, but he actually has the second lowest yards per punt average in the league at 41.5. This stat may be a little skewed because the Eagles actually have the least amount of punts in the league with only 4, and they’ve never given up a punt return, but it still seems a little alarming considering only 1 of those 4 punts was either a touchback or inside the 20 (which are cases that may cause the punt yard average to decrease). Plus, the Eagles are in the bottom half of the league for kick and punt return yards too. They rank 20th and 21st respectively in average yards per return, which is something that they’ve never been too good at. If they want to improve overall, the special teams needs to get better as well.
I think it’s absolutely outstanding that the Eagles are 2nd in the league in total offensive YPG, 2nd in rushing YPG, and 3rd in PPG, but it’s just not going to be enough. Losing to the Chargers is not acceptable, and it makes sense that they did so well on offense because while the Eagles have the 3rd worst overall defense, the only two defenses that are worse are the Redskins and Chargers, the two teams they’ve played so far. So I wouldn’t look into this offensive domination too much yet; there’s still a lot of football to be played. Anyone saying that they’re a playoff contender needs to sit back and wait until they play a good defensive team. Then they can decide if their offense is still so great. I’m not saying the Eagles offense actually isn’t good, I’m just saying that the numbers need to be taken with a grain of salt because they haven’t played good defenses yet.