NFL Team Report - San Diego Chargers - INSIDE SLANT
The Washington Redskins couldn't do it. Next up, the San Diego Chartgers.
The Philadelphia Eagles' new-flanged offense was too much for Washington, as Philadelphia won its opener, 33-27.
The Chargers' old ways of blowing halftime leads was their obstacle in their first game. They allowed the Texans to rally for a 31-28 victory.
Now the Chargers head to Philadelphia, and brother, can you spare a clue on how to slow down the Eagles' speedy offense? It gets to the line quick, it spits out plays in an amazing fashion and good luck slowing down Michael Vick and Co.
"It's a unique offense and having some background on it from where I came from I know a lot about it and the frustration it presents for a defense," Chargers coach Mike McCoy said. "It comes down to being disciplined and making sure everyone is on the same page. You have to be very disciplined and understand this is what you're supposed to do on every play."
The Chargers can hear the coach's advice, but will also hear their hearts beating faster as they try to keep up.
Case in point is the Chargers' offense had 51 plays in their loss to the Texans. The Eagles had that, plus two more, in the first half of their triumph over the Redskins.
So it's clear the Chargers have a stiff test ahead as they try to earn McCoy's first win as a head coach at any level. Especially with a defensive line that has depth issues.
"We have a challenge ahead of us but we are looking forward to it," said McCoy, who matches wits with another rookie head coach in the Eagles' Chip Kelly. "The coaches are working hard right now to put a plan together and the good thing now is we have a game to see how they played. We'll take a good look at that and come up with a plan."
But even without peaking at the video, what Kelly promised has come true. Just like he did at Oregon, he's thrown the status quo out the door and introduced an attacking style of moving the ball the NFL has seldom seen.
The quest is to score points, sure, and do so, in part, by working so fast that the defense has little time to make situational substitutions. Plus, the wear and tear of keeping up makes for many a tongue to be hanging out from defenders.
"Any time you play a team that plays at that tempo you have to be well conditioned, No. 1.," McCoy said. "I think our players are in great shape."
They will get a great chance to prove that on Sunday. But what was evident on Monday was that the defense ran out of steam as the Texans scored 24 second-half points to pull out the win.
Some of that is due to the Chargers' offensive woes, when they went three-and-out in four of their least five series. The only time they didn't, Philip Rivers threw an interception which was returned for a touchdown.
But it was clear the defense was gassed near the end of the game as the Texans' last drive got them a game-winning field goal.
"I don't think "gassed" is a good word, but when offensively you only have so many plays and the defense is out there that's what is going to happen," McCoy said. "The time of possession for us was about 26 minutes for the game and the majority of that was flipped in the second half."
Now can the Chargers rebound after their latest flop? Maybe, but it won't be easy.
Especially against an offense which plays as if the players are double-parked.
"The key comes down to communication," McCoy said. "You have to call the game quickly defensively, the players have to communicate and the most important thing is 11 players have to be on the same page. They have to execute and do their job the way it's supposed to be done."
SERIES HISTORY: 11th regular-season meeting. The Chargers lead series, 6-4, but lost in their lone game at Lincoln Financial Field. They played there in 2005, with the Eagles prevailing, 20-17. In fact the Chargers have won but one of the four games played in Philadelphia. Look for the game to be close as eight of the 10 games have been decided by eight points or fewer.
NFL Team Report - San Diego Chargers - NOTES, QUOTES
--After not being seen much in the preseason games, RB Danny Woodhead was active against the Texans. He caught two passes for 16 yards, both good for first downs. "We think we played pretty well," he said. "We believe in each other; we just came up short." Rivers was trying to click with Woodhead on the pass which Brian Cushing intercepted for the game-tying touchdown.
--McCoy has leaned on offensive coordinator Ken Whisenhunt, and he's not afraid to say it. McCoy, unlike Norv Turner did with his offensive coordinators, allows Whisenhunt, a former head coach with the Cardinals, to call the plays. "I'm very fortunate to have Ken here," McCoy said. "He's done a great job installing the system. The whole entire staff put this system together this offseason. We put all our minds in it. No one has all the answers, so we want to do whatever we think is best for the football team when we put the whole offense together and we do the same thing during the week. Ken is calling the plays. That's what we said from day one."
--ILB Donald Butler got a taste of the Eagles offense when he played at Washington and went against Chip Kelly's Oregon Ducks. And that taste wasn't very good. "Unfortunately, every time we played Oregon we got blown out by 40 points," Butler said. "You got to be ready for the speed and if you're not, you're going to get gassed."
--Even though the Chargers fell short on Monday, Rivers remains upbeat. "There's a lot to build on and a lot to be excited about," he said. "And there's a long way to go."
BY THE NUMBERS: 6 - Number of times the Chargers have blown halftime leads in their last 13 games.
QUOTE TO NOTE: "The future is now and we're not worrying about the past. We're moving forward." -- Coach Mike McCoy on the Chargers blowing another lead on "Monday Night Football."
NFL Team Report - San Diego Chargers - STRATEGY AND PERSONNEL
It could be time for defensive linemen Sean Lissemore, Kwame Geathers and Jarius Wynn to earn their stripes on Sunday.
When facing an offense which runs as quick as the Eagles', it's the big guys up front that get tired the quickest.
The Chargers are fond of their starters in ends Corey Liuget and Kendall Reyes and tackle Cam Thomas. But it's clear they will need a blow or two on Sunday, and that's where the Chargers' depth along the line will be tested.
The backups combined for but two tackles in the Texans game. The Chargers will need more production out of them as they figure to see considerable more playing time on Sunday in keeping the starters somewhat fresh.
--DE Sean Lissemore (elbow) returned to practice Friday and is listed as probable.
--ILB Manti Te'o (foot) didn't practice, although he is running more on the side. He could return to practice next week after being out since Aug. 8. But he has been ruled out for Sunday and again will be replaced by Bront Bird. Bird is making his first NFL road start and second overall.
--OLB Dwight Freeney returned to practice and worked the entire session. He was limited on Wednesday for a non-injury matter, according to the club.
--DE Corey Liuget (shoulder) practiced again Friday and is probable.
--SS Brandon Taylor (knee) was a full participant for the third straight day and is probable.
--QB Philip Rivers has started 113 consecutive games, which is the second-most active streak in the NFL. Eli Manning, who the Chargers traded for Rivers, leads with 128.
--RB Ryan Mathews needs 11 rushing yards to pass Dick Post (2,519) for eighth place on the team's all-time list. Mathews had but three carries in the second half on Monday.
--WR Keenan Allen was a big part of the offense during the preseason but he wasn't targeted once in the opener.
--ILB Bront Bird will make his second straight start, and second in the NFL, with Manti Te'o still not working. Bird, a former special-teams player, had a game-high 14 tackles against the Texans.
--OLB Jarret Johnson is coming off one of his better games as a Chargers. Johnson deflected the pass which Cam Thomas intercepted to set up the first touchdown. He ended with six tackles, a sack, a tackle for a loss and two quarterback hits.
GAME PLAN: The best way for the offense to help its defense is to hold on to the football. That is never more true come Sunday, with the offense trying to keep its challenged defense fresh against the Eagles' hurry-up offense.
The Chargers proved they could run the ball in the first half of Monday's lost. Then in the second half, not so much. But much of that was due to its lack of sustaining a long drive after their first one to open the half. After that it was three-and-out or a turnover as the Chargers couldn't keep the ball to keep their lead.
On Sunday the team will look to stuff the ball in Ryan Mathews' gut to gain yards, but also gobble some clock so its defense can catch its breath.
Mathews had only three carries in the second half in the opener. That's a stat the Chargers don't have the luxury of repeating on Sunday.
MATCHUPS TO WATCH: The Chargers pass protection on the edges vs. the Eagles speed rushers on the outside. Left tackle King Dunlap and right tackle D.J. Fluker are not going to have to contend with ROLB Trent Cole and LOLB Connor Barwin but with an Eagles crowd which should be full throttle at its team's home opener. Dunlap is a former Eagle, so he knows of the challenge which awaits as the Chargers will have to go to a silent count in some instances to get the play off. In Cole he has to wrestle with a two-time Pro Bowler who has the third-most sacks in Eagles history. Cole had a forced fumble and a tackle for a loss against the Redskins. Fluker, in his first NFL road start, gets Barwin, a free agent the Eagles signed in the offseason. He had four tackles and a quarterback hurry in the opener.
--The Chargers passing game vs. the Eagles pass defense. Rivers was able to spread the ball around to seven different receivers in the opener. Can he do it against the Eagle, considering a secondary which features Cary Williams and Brandon Boykin. The Chargers are encouraged that Eddie Royal is healthy; that goes for Malcom Floyd as well. It's imperative they are able to get some down field routes clicking to loosen up the Eagles defense so the Chargers can run the ball effectively and give their defense a chance to catch its breath. But Williams earned a Super Bowl championship with the Ravens last year after starting all 16 games and getting four picks. He had one this year in the opening week. Boykin is mostly used on passing downs, working the inside slot. That should mean he would track Royal and try to slow him down. If the Chargers are to run the ball, they have to pass it at some point.