Doug Pederson certainly learned a lesson from the Kansas City game about the importance of running the football.
For the second straight week, the Eagles built their offensive gameplan around running the football. With over 31 pass plays called compared to over 37 runs, the head coach certainly didn’t let the loss of Darren Sproles discourage him from continuing to pound the football.
Veteran running back LeGarrette Blount was the focal point of the attack, rushing 16 times for 138 yards. The big back was an absolute treat to watch; it was vintage Blount, powering through defenders, making them look helpless and hopeless. In the last two weeks, Blount has to put bed the nonsensical talk that he was either done, or at best a bad fit for Pederson’s offense.
The 68-yard run by Blount in the fourth quarter was one of the key plays in the game. With the Chargers fresh off of a touchdown-scoring drive, Blount bounced off defenders, making rookie Desmond King in particular look very bad, dragging him 40 yards down the field before finally shaking him off with a powerful stiff arm. The big run set up the team’s final touchdown, giving them a critical two-score lead.
Pederson then went back to Blount on the team’s final drive to close out the game with a two-point lead. Blount responded with an 8-yard run to set up a short-yardage situation, and on the next play iced the game with another strong run.
LeGarrette Blount has plenty left in the tank, folks.
Passing Game Used Very Sparingly, Though Wentz Continue To Show Positives
The passing game was used very sparingly in today’s game.
It’s concerning to me how difficult it has been for the Eagles to regularly involve Alshon Jeffery and Torrey Smith in the offense. The team got Jeffery off to a fast start, hitting him for a touchdown in the first quarter, but the veteran playmaker went quiet for almost the entire rest of the game, recording just two more catches after that.
The Eagles were still able to win despite minimal involvement from their outside threats, but its a little troubling that a guy like Jeffery can just disappear for large chunks of the game.
However, the one positive from the passing game was that Carson Wentz showed the best touch he’s had all season on his deeper throws. Wentz placed balls perfectly for Nelson Agholor in the first quarter and Zach Ertz in the second half, resulting in big gains of 38 and 36 yards.
- Wendell Smallwood took 10 carries for 34 yards, and scored the team’s final touchdown, while also adding four receptions for 45 yards. It seems he’s the guy that’s going to fill in for Sproles’ offensive role.
- Corey Clement was heavily involved in the attack as well, taking 10 carries for 30 yards of his own. Clement picked up a couple of key first downs in the second half in short yardage situations.
- Zach Ertz’s breakout year continues! Five for grabs for 81 yards today, Ertz is unquestionably Wentz’s go-to guy at all times.
- Torrey Smith dropped another very catchable pass today, and finished with just one grab for nine yards.
- Stefen Wisniewski and Chance Warmack continued to rotate at left guard. I thought Wisniewski once again had the better game, but I thought Warmack was much stronger than he was last week.
- Chris Long really gave the Eagles a big momentum shift early on. With the Chargers moving the football on their opening drive, Long came up with a strip-sack on Philip Rivers, giving the Eagles an early turnover that the offense would cash-in for seven points.
- The patchwork secondary finally had some bad breakdowns today. It began with a 75-yard touchdown strike to Tyrell Williams that put the Chargers on the board and gave them some life after the Eagles initially went up 10-0. At the end of the first half, Rasul Douglas bit and gave up a big completion to Keenan Allen with under a minute remaining that help set up a field goal.
- By the end of the game, Rivers was moving the ball at will on the Eagles’ defense. The pass rush wasn’t getting home, and the secondary, despite battling pretty hard, just couldn’t hold up.
- The team’s only other sack would come from Beau Allen today.
- On a big positive note, the team held Melvin Gordon in check all day, giving up just 22 yards to the star running back.
- Jake Elliot, riding the high of his 61-yard walk off field goal from the week before, nailed all four of his field goal attempts, connecting from 45, 40, 53, and 47 yards.
Major upset victory for the Eagles today.
This wasn’t a game that a lot of people expected the Eagles to win. Given that they had to make a trip across the country, facing a desperate Charger team that is better than their 0-3 (now 0-4) record, and the fact that Eagles went in to this game pretty banged up, missing Fletcher Cox and Darren Sproles, it just highlights how impressive today’s effort was.
Coolest thing today? How about the Eagles fans taking over the soccer field out in L.A.? They made this west coast trip look and feel like a Philadelphia home game. The Chargers had to be both embarrassed and demoralized at the turnout in the Eagles’ favor.
Meanwhile, the Dallas Cowboys suffered a letdown at home to the Rams, and have a date with Aaron Rodgers and the Packers next week.
With the struggling Arizona Cardinals coming to town next week, the Eagles have a golden opportunity to really get on a roll and create some strong separation between themselves and the rest of the division.