On the heels of the demoralizing Monday night loss to the Houston Texans, the San Diego Chargers have been forced to turn the page quickly to the new-look Philadelphia Eagles. The Bolts face a stiff turnaround for any west coast team having to fly cross-country for a 1pm ET kickoff on a short week, but coupling that with a blown three-touchdown lead will be even more difficult to manage. There are some reasons for fans to be optimistic heading into this game, however.
San Diego hasn’t started the season with two straight losses since the 2008 season, which should give fans at least a hint of optimism looking forward to Sunday. While rookie linebacker Manti Te’o is likely to miss his second straight game with his bum ankle, his replacement in Bront Bird actually led the team in tackles in the opener with 14. Defending a fast-paced offense like Chip Kelly’s Eagles won’t be easy, but at least the Chargers are familiar with a similarly daunting challenge of playing at altitude once a year in their AFC West battles with the Denver Broncos.
All of these factors may not add up to a victory in their own right, but the Bolts certainly have a reason to carry a positive outlook into Philly this Sunday. Traditionally running quarterbacks have given the team some troubles, but Michael Vick is prone to making costly mental errors. If San Diego can knock him around a bit in this game they could find the ball being turned over on multiple occasions leading to extra possessions on offense.
Although the stats may be a bit skewed given the fact that the Texans were trailing and forced to throw to come from behind, the Chargers held Arian Foster to just 57 yards on 18 carries. While his counterpart Ben Tate did find moderate success with nine totes for 55 yards of his own, San Diego was solid for the most part defending the run. That will be vital to slowing down the Philly attack which saw LeSean McCoy literally carry them to victory in their opener with 184 yards on 31 attempts.
What has to be a bit concerning is that Eagles coach Kelly said this of the team’s 53 plays in the first half in their Week 1 win:
“I felt like it was slow to be honest with you. I’m not joking. We have to do a better job. We left the ball on the ground too much. We didn’t get the ball to the officials. We could have sped things up from a process in between plays, and that’s something we need to continue to work on.”
That’s worrisome indeed given that those 53 plays in the opening half for Philadelphia were more than the Chargers managed in their entire game Week 1. Given a lack of depth defensively and lack of running game to chew up the clock, the San Diego defense needs to be prepared physically for a war of attrition this Sunday.