It was the first of three west coast matchups for the Philadelphia Eagles. An afternoon matinee against the newly termed Los Angeles Chargers in Carson City, California presented its problems for the Birds on paper, but Carson Wentz, Malcolm Jenkins and the rest of the Eagles found a way to leave California with a 26-24 victory.
There were many questions heading into the matchup that fans had questions about. With Fletcher Cox out on the defensive line with a calf injury, it was interesting to see who would step up in his place. The run game got going the week before (they had 31 run attempts which was the most for the team since 2015) and it remained to be seen if that offensive balance would carry over into the next week. After the win there are still questions as always, but now many things have come into focus and things can be concluded about this Eagles squad. Here are the takeaways from the week four victory.
Week Four Philadelphia Eagles Takeaways
Doug Pederson Has the Offense Balanced Out
Head coach Doug Pederson was hit with enormous criticism after the Eagles week two loss against the Kansas City Chiefs. In that game, the Eagles ran the ball just 17 times and LeGarrette Blount did not record a single carry. Things have changed since. Last week against the New York Giants, Blount bounced back and the team ran 31 times to push around the Giants.
Pederson and the offense outdid that performance today. They ran and passed for 19 times each in the first half and finished with 42 rushed and 31 pass attempts. That is a clear sign and stat that shows the Eagles won the line of scrimmage and kept the Chargers on their heels. If a team can run that much and be dominant, it opens up the passing game and keeps any defense guessing.
Hopefully this becomes the norm in Philadelphia and Pederson can run an offense this effective throughout. As they face better defenses throughout the rest of the season, they will certainly need to.
The Defense Has a Bad Habit of Letting Up Big Plays
In the short game today, the Eagles defense was stout and tough. They only allowed Chargers star running back Melvin Gordon to run 10 times for just 22 yards. That’s certainly what the front seven should have shown, but in the passing game and red zone they struggled and allowed huge yardage plays that got Los Angeles back in the game.
Tyrell Williams burned the secondary for a deep 75-yard touchdown for the Chargers first touchdown. Then later the first carry of his career, Chargers running back Austin Ekeler torched the defense for a 35-yard score. On the Chargers last scoring drive in the fourth quarter on a third down, Philip Rivers connected with Keenan Allen for a 50-yard completion into the red zone that set up a touchdown. These were just the most important big plays the Eagles defense gave; the team went on to make more egregious errors.
Explosive plays are a problem that Jim Schwartz must get corrected because they Eagles will face much better teams than the Chargers who feature better offenses.
Jake Elliott is Making His Case To Be the Full-Time Starter
Coming off his career long 61-yard field goal as time expired to beat the Giants last week, Jake Elliott was the king of Philadelphia. Now it was time to prove he could be relied upon consistently to deliver and Elliott did just that Sunday.
He accounted for 14 points through the kicking game, going four for four on field goals including a long of 53 yards and he converted both extra points attempt. Elliott showed no regression from his emphatic kick last week and looked even better than before. If he keeps up this play by the time regular starter Caleb Sturgis returns, it would be very hard to keep Elliott from remaining the starter.