The Philadelphia Eagles are coming off a thrilling, 30-17, season opening victory on the road against the Washington Redskins. The Eagles got off to a fast start and held the roaring Skins at bay. A strip sack fumble forced by defensive end Brandon Graham allowed defensive tackle Fletcher Cox to rumble in for a touchdown to seal the game.
Carson Wentz led the way with 307 yards, two touchdowns and one interception, including a nifty and evasive 58-yard touchdown pass to Nelson Agholor. The defense played exceptionally well to limit Redskins quarterback Kirk Cousins to just 240 yards and one touchdown, while forcing an interception and three fumbles.
Unfortunately, the team that the Birds go against in Week two is the reigning AFC West champion Kansas City Chiefs. The Chiefs thumped the New England Patriots on opening night 42-27 and were led by their quarterback Alex Smith, who threw for 368 yards and four touchdowns. With the Eagles on the road at Arrowhead Stadium, one of the loudest and most intimidating venues in all North American sports, Philly will have a lot on their hands to deal with. There are a number of key areas the Eagles must focus on in order to win on Sunday, but here are the top three.
Week Two Philadelphia Eagles Keys to Victory
Keep Targeting Zach Ertz
Week one against Washington showed fans and the NFL that the Eagles, despite their struggles, have several weapons. One of them, if not their biggest this year, is tight end Zach Ertz. Ertz has been projected by many throughout the sports world (especially close to the Eagles) to breakout this season. He got on the same page as Wentz at the end of last season and that chemistry looks to have carried over into this season. Last Sunday, Wentz and Ertz hooked up for eight receptions and 93 yards (both lead the team) and Ertz looked to have a stranglehold on the Redskins secondary.
Last week against the Patriots, the Chiefs shut down All-Pro tight end Rob Gronkowski due in large part because he was being covered by All-Pro safety Eric Berry. Unfortunately for the Chiefs and to the dismay of just about everyone in the NFL, Berry ruptured his Achilles in that game and is out for the rest of the season. With Berry out and unable to cover big moving tight ends, this should hopefully allow Ertz to roam free and get open in the secondary and make a big impact on this game.
Protect Carson Wentz
Wentz was only sacked two times against Washington, which doesn’t seem like a lot, but it probably should have been more. His protection frequently broke down quickly and the offensive line looked out of whack. What’s worse is longtime left tackle Jason Peters left the game with a groin injury and failed to return. However, it is now known that Peters was healthy enough to come back into that game; he was held out for precautionary reasons to prevent his groin injury from worsening.
The Chiefs defense is not the Redskins. It’s better. Much, much better in fact and it starts with their front seven that dominated the Patriots. Carson Wentz showed he can make plays with his feet if he needs to extend plays, but the Eagles cannot rely on that each week and expect the same success he had against Washington. The offensive line must be much more consistent in protection.
The Eagles Linebackers Will Need to be on Double Duty
One of the most important roles of linebackers is taking care of the opposing running back. That means meeting the back head on in the run game and covering them out of the backfield if they become a receiver. The Chiefs rookie running back Kareem Hunt didn’t like a rookie against New England, running for 148 yards and a touchdown and catching five passes for 98 yards and two touchdowns. Those impressive numbers mean the Pats linebackers didn’t do their job.
With the Chiefs back home in Week two Hunt should be unleashed for the same workload and touches as in Week one. It’s up to the Eagles linebackers, Nigel Bradham, Jordan Hicks and company to slow him down and not let him run all over Philly’s defense. If the linebackers don’t do their job, it could be another 40-plus point showing for Kansas City.