Last game, the Philadelphia Eagles astounded the football world with their lightning-quick offense and impressive run-first approach. They got off to an early lead, causing some people to reconsider their skepticism of Chip Kelly. Now as the warm feelings from Monday night fade slightly, the San Diego Chargers loom over the horizon and threaten to bring the birds and their avid fans back to reality.
How can they do this? By controlling the pace of the game.
The Eagles had a firm grasp on the tempo against the Washington Redskins. London Fletcher was lost during the first half, players were supposedly faking injuries to give their defense more time, and players later admitted that the Eagles had them gasping and wishing for quick death.
However, to keep the pace Sunday on the Eagles side, that playbook is going to have to open up a lot more.
The Chargers’ defense has often been overlooked, but they have two effective outside linebackers in Jarret Johnson and Dwight Freeney. They are going to test the resistance of the line, especially Jason Peters and the rookie Lane Johnson. The key for the Chargers defense is to box up Michael Vick and LeSean McCoy, and if they can do that, it could be a long day for Kelly and his squad.
The Chargers also have a better secondary than the Redskins, and those corners are going to try to jam up the receivers at the line of scrimmage. This could throw off the tempo and test Vick to make that quick second read. If he holds it too long, those outside linebackers are coming.
What needs to happen for the Eagles to get a definitive win and make a statement is more originality. Kelly was fast, but now let’s see if we can get some end-arounds with the speed of DeSean Jackson, or maybe even Demaris Johnson, or some two-wide receiver sets in the backfield. The frantic pace is the Eagles’ greatest ally, so Kelly has to keep the away team guessing.