Eagles look to keep defensive intensity against Chargers
After re-establishing a fierce look on defense, the Philadelphia Eagles will look for even more growth Sunday when they play host to the Los Angeles Chargers.
On the other side, the Chargers are looking to hit their own reset button after their impressive start to the season was followed by consecutive defeats to the Baltimore Ravens and New England Patriots.
The Eagles (3-5) will return home for the first time since a 28-22 defeat to the Super Bowl champion Tampa Bay Buccaneers on Oct. 14. Since then, they fell 33-22 on the road to the Las Vegas Raiders, followed by last week’s convincing 44-6 victory over the Detroit Lions.
It was a return to the kind of punishing defense the Eagles showed when holding the Atlanta Falcons to six points in a season-opening victory and following that by holding the San Francisco 49ers to 17 points in a home-opening loss Sept. 19.
After they deactivated linebacker Eric Wilson for Sunday’s game, the Eagles turned up the intensity with six sacks on Lions quarterback Jared Goff and 12 quarterback hits.
On Wednesday, Wilson was waived, with the Eagles now trying to figure out how to hold a far more potent Chargers offense in check. Philadelphia held Detroit to 57 yards rushing. The Lions finished with 171 net yards passing, thanks to 51 yards lost on the six sacks, and just 4.3 yards per pass.
“I think we just did a good job of showing the same similar coverages and then bringing pressure from those looks,” Eagles linebacker T.J. Edwards said. “We’ve had things schemed up like this, but just hadn’t had the down and distance to get us in those spots.”
Chargers second-year quarterback Justin Herbert will now have to identify the Eagles’ disguised looks on defense. As if he didn’t have enough challenges on his plate.
The Chargers’ offense was handcuffed in a 34-6 defeat at Baltimore on Oct. 17, gaining just 208 yards of total offense and 26 yards rushing. With a bye week to address the offensive issues, Los Angeles followed that with a 27-24 defeat to the Patriots.
The Chargers (4-3) improved their running game to the tune of 163 yards behind 64 yards from Austin Ekeler and a big 75-yard run from Justin Jackson, but they were just 4 of 12 on third down, while Herbert matched a season high with two interceptions.
Jackson (quad) did not practice Wednesday, while cornerbacks Asante Samuel Jr. (concussion) and Michael Davis (hamstring) also were out.
Of particular concern for the Chargers is that the Patriots’ defense ramped up their pass rush to force Herbert into making quick decisions. He likely will see the same look against the Eagles.
Herbert played the fall guy for the performance against the Patriots, although the offensive line will need a better showing at Philadelphia.
“That is probably something we have to watch,” Herbert said about dealing with pressure in the pocket. “I felt like they gave me enough time. It is on me to make those throws and to get the ball out quicker. I thought those guys up front did a great job blocking and I feel comfortable behind those guys.”
Eagles wide receiver Jalen Reagor (ankle) missed practice Wednesday, as did defensive tackles Fletcher Cox (knee) and Javon Hargrave (shoulder).
–Field Level Media