By Dylan Mackinnon
They perhaps played better than many thought they would, but they still lost 27-24. The Eagles tied it up with a TD with a little over 6 minutes left, but the offense never got back on the field. Chargers put together a 6 minute drive, and kicked the game winning FG. What were the problems in this loss? What did they do well despite losing? Here are the 5 numbers that tell the story of this game.
Justin Herbert completed 86.5% of his passes today, and averaged over 10 yards per attempt. This is now the 5th time the Eagles have allowed a QB to complete at least 80% of their passes. Pat Mahomes, Dak Prescott, Tom Brady, Derek Carr, and now Herbert accomplished the feat vs this defense. Those are all good QBS, but each of them saw at least a 10% boost in the completion percentage, some even more than that. Carr had a 90% completion rate, which is 25% over his average rate. Six of the nine qbs they faced had their season rate completion rate vs the Eagles. The Eagles defense has a very hard time forcing incompeltions, and it was again a problem today. The inability to force an incompletion is why the Chargers were able to take such a long drive at the end of the game.
The Eagles got only 2 stops, on 7 Chargers drives. One of those drives they let the Chargers drive all the way down the field, but managed to get a goal line stand. They also forced a single punt. Every other time, the Chargers either got a field goal, or a TD. And as I already mentioned, they did so while keeping the clock winding. This is not the first time this defense has let the other time score nearly every drive. They got only one stop vs the Chiefs, and only a couple vs the Cowboys and Raiders. After last week we thought we saw Jonathan Gannon learn he had to be more aggressive. It seems he forgot that lesson. He was back to soft as tissue defensive playcalling, and it is why they lost.
Hate to keep picking on the defense, but they were the primary issue in today’s loss. After racking up 6 sacks yvs the Lions, and 11 qb hits, they ony hit Herbert a single time today. Steven Nelson, the corner, got a hit on Herbert. No one on the defensive line even touched him. The Chargers have a good O line, but you also are supposed to have a good D line. Pass rush was supposed to be this teams strength. But Gannon hamstrings them. We saw last week what happens when you unleash them and just let them get after the QB. Why he went off that play style is baffling.
Someone did remember their lesson from last week though. Nick Sirianni continued to run the ball. And big surprise, the offense continued to work. They were facing the worst rush defense in the league, and took advantage to the tune of 39 rushing attmepts, and averaged 4.5 yard per rush. Now they will not get away with that many runs every week, but it was the right plan this time. The run was working and Sirianni stuck to it. You should not need to congratulate a coach for simply continuing to do what works. But given what we saw from Nick earlier in the year, I will very happily celebrate progress.
Good play deserves credit, and the O line played very well. They allowed only 2 qb hits, and only 1 sack. Joey Bosa beat Driscoll really bad on one play, and thats the only time there was really an issue. And with the caliber of player Bosa is, you will take him being limited to one big play. They were even better in run blocking. There were bumps along the way, with injuries and a few struggles, but the Eagles O Line has really settled in and across the board are playing at a high level. The Eagles have had a lot of success running it behind the combo of Jason Kelce and Landon Dickerson. The likes of Dickerson, Driscoll, and Jordan Mailata is something to build on. Having a young core of quality O Linemen is something most teams would kill for. Eagles have that.