In case you were wondering why the Chargers are favored by Vegas oddsmakers to beat the Eagles today, it’s because our front-line and secondary defense is perceived as depleted by injury and unlikely to get much pressure or coverage against Phil Rivers if/when he gets on a roll.
I think it’s a short-sighted view of things, because I don’t think Vegas knows a whole lot yet about guys like Vinny Curry, Brandon Graham, Beau Allen, Mychal Kendricks, Rasul Douglas or Patrick Robinson, to name a few. I think the pressure and the coverage will be much stouter than Vegas reckons. In particular, I look for Curry, Graham and DT Tim Jernigan to take turns lining up all over the formation on defense. It could be a case where Rivers won’t know where the pressure is coming from.
True, all-pro defensive tackle Fletcher Cox is out with the calf injury. Backup defensive tackle Destiny Vaeao is out as well because of a wrist injury, leaving the Eagles with just three defensive tackles heading into the Sunday’s game against the Chargers. Head coach Doug Pederson hinted that defensive tackle Beau Allen will likely start in Cox’s place.
“Somebody like Fletcher draws double teams,” said Pederson. “People slide protection in that direction and so it can affect you a little bit but at the same time if teams now don’t do that it does free up some of our one-on-one matchups with the defensive line. I think with our ends getting pressure there sometimes can help take pressure off, even when Fletcher’s in there. These guys have been able to take some pressure off of Fletcher. The next guy Beau Allen and Tim Jernigan, these guys are going to really have to step up and fill that gap and have done a nice job.”
At least the Eagles will have safety Rodney McLeod active after his one-game absence with a hamstring injury. His return leaves the Eagles with a lot less shuffling to do in their secondary from a coverage standpoint.
“It’s real comforting knowing that you don’t have to move so many pieces now having him back there,” Pederson said. “First of all, I thought (Chris) Maragos did a nice job last week stepping up and playing and now he can go back to special teams being that backup safety and that role that he’s comfortable in as well.
“But having Rodney and Malcolm (Jenkins) back there and still having Rasul (Douglas) and Jalen (Mills) and some of the young corners out there really, the communication is solid and they can really get these guys lined up. To me, it’s like on offense, if you can just line yourself up, your chances of executing that play or that defense to perfection go up. So it’s great to have him back in that lineup.”
So maybe the “eeek!” personnel reaction by Vegas to the Eagles’ active defensive roster for this game is a bit over the top. But of course, these bookmakers are paid very well to be correct in their analyses most of the time.
For me the real key to winning this game is for the Eagles offense to score more points than Rivers does. It’s that simple. That, and avoid turnovers which may give Rivers a short field to dissect.
Tommy Lawlor said it better than I could:
“The Eagles will need another strong performance from the guys up front as they travel to Los Angeles to take on the Chargers. This is not a team you want to have coming after your quarterback. Defensive end Melvin Ingram has 5.5 sacks and has been a force this year. Joey Bosa was great as a rookie last year and is playing well this season. That’s a deadly duo coming off the edges. How do you slow them down?
“Run the ball.
“The Chargers are 31st in the league in run defense. As crazy as this may sound, the Eagles are eighth in the league in rushing. Doug Pederson should feed the ball to LeGarrette Blount, Wendell Smallwood, and Corey Clement. Pound on those pass rushers to try to slow them down. Mix in some play-action passes to try and get some chunk plays. Could this finally be the week that Wentz will connect with his receivers on some deep balls?”
Could a successful offensive game plan be as simple as that? Why yes, yes I believe it could….against the Chargers, anyway.
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If you want an alternative “Live Thread” to this game on Sunday, please join us on a site called discord.com.
Our regular commentator and home-run king Ryan Lubrich (aka The Lubricator, aka GSXR Mustang) has created an alternative chat forum for in-game real-time conversation.
Here’s a link to his interesting new talk machine if you wish to give it a look:
As Ryan explains, it’s like a chat channel, primarily used by like-gamers who stream on Twitch, but he figured we might be able to use it for gameday chats. I have found it to be very functional and very entertaining. It took me a few minutes to get the hang of some of the buttons and bells, but after a short while I was zooming along with the other EYE guys and Bored members there talking Eagles football.