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Chargers vs Eagles Preview

Discussion in 'Latest Chargers News & Headlines' started by robdog, Oct 18, 2005.

  1. robdog

    robdog Code Monkey Staff Member Administrator

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    <strong>Why To Watch</strong>
    With this game on the road and against a Philadelphia defense that likes to blitz, San Diego will lean heavily on the services of RB LaDainian Tomlinson. Showing a strong commitment to the running game will help take some pressure off QB Drew Brees and help the Chargers sustain longer drives that wear the Eagles' defense down. However, Brees will have to throw downfield at times and the ability of his offensive line to give him time to find the open man on these plays will play a big role in the outcome of this game.
    A sports hernia isn't an injury that heals up over a bye week, but the rest should help Eagles QB Donovan McNabb who has been playing through injuries all year. That's good news for Philadelphia fans because McNabb and WR Terrell Owens are capable of torching a San Diego secondary that is dealing with some injuries of their own. That being said the Eagles need to get RB Brian Westbrook more carries or McNabb won't have much time to scan the field when he drops back to pass.
    <strong>

    When the Chargers have the ball</strong>
    Rushing: Tomlinson is averaging right around 22 carries per game and he should get at least that many carries this week. Consistently handing him the ball will help keep the Eagles' pass rushers on their heels and make it more difficult for them to blitz. It will also put a tremendous amount of pressure on DS's Brain Dawkins and Michael Lewis. It will set up the play action package. If Dawkins and Lewis start flying upfield when they read run and start biting on play fakes, TE Antonio Gates has the blend of size and speed to take advantage. It will also force Dawkins and Lewis to play with discipline when they are in pursuit.

    One of the biggest reasons Tomlinson is widely considered the best back in the league is he possesses a perfect blend of patience, burst and lateral mobility. He isn't afraid to hesitate for a second before exploding through the hole and his ability to move sideways so quickly allows him to hit seams other backs would miss. That makes it difficult to take the right pursuit angle. If Dawkins and Lewis take an aggressive line when Tomlinson pauses in the backfield, he has the burst and speed to outrun them before they get to him. The problem is they can't be too conservative either because Tomlinson will cut back when he sees them get caught too far upfield.

    <strong>Passing:</strong> Philadelphia has surrendered seven passing touchdowns over its past three games and its inability to apply consistent pressure has forced the secondary to hold up in coverage for longer periods of time. However, there are two reasons to believe that will change this week.

    The first is ROT Shane Olivea could return to the lineup after missing last week's games with a knee injury but it's more likely he misses at least another game. Backup Leander Jordan doesn't have ideal athletic ability or quickness and he struggled working against Oakland rush DE Derrick Burgess last week. With Olivea banged up and Jordan a better run blocker than he is a pass blocker neither will be able to hold up on an island working against LDE Jevon Kearse. Look for offensive coordinator Cam Cameron to adjust his protection-schemes to help the right tackle regardless of who lines up there consequently. That will draw blockers away from the interior helping both the defensive tackles and any defenders blitzing up the middle.

    The expected return of RDT Darwin Walker, who missed three games with a thigh injury, is the second reason to believe the Eagles will have some success getting to Brees. Walker has the explosive first step to shot the gap working against LOG Kris Dielman and he shows good closing speed. In addition, his return means that rookie Mike Patterson moves back into the No. 3 role and he will be fresher when defensive coordinator Jim Johnson rotates him into the game. Although Patterson doesn't have ideal top-end speed, he has good initial quickness and he shows a variety of pass rush moves.
    <strong>
    When the Eagles have the ball</strong>
    Rushing: Westbrook has carried the ball a total of just fifteen times over the past two games. The Eagles need more balance on offense because a San Diego pass rush that has recorded 17 sacks will be that much more aggressive if this remains a fairly one-dimensional passing attack. That means giving Westbrook around fifteen carries despite the fact that he will be working against a Chargers run defense has been the best in the AFC thus far.

    One of the ways offensive coordinator Brad Childress can help open up the running game is pulling a guard and using him as a lead blocker when attacking the perimeter of the San Diego defense. The Chargers' linebacker corps is disciplined and physical so it should be able to limit Westbrook's production between the tackles. However, the outside linebackers lack ideal initial quickness and the inside linebackers have lost a step with age so they are a step slower getting to the sideline. OG's Shawn Andrews and Artis Hicks have adequate range and athletic ability so they should be able to get into position at the second level and create some seams for Westbrook when they pull.

    It's also worth mentioning that OTs Tra Thomas and Jon Runyan can help the pulling guard by driving San Diego's stout defensive ends off the ball. Getting good movement will allow the guard to turn upfield that much sooner making it difficult for the linebacker to beat him to the point of attack.

    <strong>Passing:</strong> The Chargers' play in the secondary continues to be a concern and it's unlikely this unit shows significant improvement this week because it's banged up. No. 2 DC Drayton Florence, who missed last week's game, and Nickel back Sammy Davis are both dealing with ankle injuries. Their status will be determined later in the week, but they have been inconsistent when they have played and ankle injuries make it more difficult to cut sharply.

    This puts defensive coordinator Wade Phillips in a bind. It's clear that, like most corners, Quentin Jammer doesn't have the explosiveness to stay with Owens in man coverage, so Phillips will have to give him safety help over the top. The problem is No. 2 WR Greg Lewis has played surprisingly well and he has the burst as well as the quick feet to consistently get open working against Florence or Davis. Keeping that in mind, Phillips could play a lot of soft Cover 2 schemes that keep both safeties back. However, this approach isn't ideal for two reasons. The first is Philadelphia's personnel at tight end and running back. TE L.J. Smith is fast enough to locate the seam between the linebackers and safeties when working against the cover-2. Westbrook is a sound route-runner that does a good job of settling into soft spots when working against zone coverage. The second reason is playing soft cover schemes means less blitzing and more time for McNabb. McNabb is patient and tough so he will wait until he has to get rid of the ball or a receiver gets open despite the fact he's playing with a sports hernia.

    Look for Phillips to throw a number of different looks at McNabb consequently. The idea is changing the defense up will confuse the reads and disrupt the timing of McNabb and his receivers.
     

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