Here are some observations and ruminations about Sunday's Chargers-Eagles game:
and ruminations about Sunday's
Lane Johnson may end up looking back upon his first Eagles home game as a learning experience, but the rookie right tackle had several moments he would surely like to forget.
His lowest point came when he was called for an illegal formation - he wasn't set at the line - and a DeSean Jackson 37-yard touchdown reception was nullified. The Eagles eventually had to settle for a field goal on the drive. The penalty was compounded by the fact that Johnson was called for an illegal formation earlier.
"I thought I was on the line, but apparently, I wasn't," Johnson said. "I had two of them and they may have cost us the game. They were stupid on my part and unacceptable."
He fared decently against possible future Hall of Famer Dwight Freeney, but the outside linebacker ran over him with a bull rush and got him with a spin move that disrupted a deep throw from Michael Vick to Jackson.
- Jeff McLane
Chip Kelly has not proven much better than Andy Reid in one area: throwing the red flag.
Kelly lost a challenge in the opener, and he lost another one on Sunday. It came in the first quarter, when Malcom Floyd caught a 9-yard pass along the right sideline at the Eagles' 28-yard line on a second and 12. Kelly didn't think it was a catch and wanted it to be a third and 12 in a more difficult place to hit a field goal.
But the play was upheld, and the Eagles lost a timeout. The Chargers scored a touchdown on that drive, and Kelly was out of timeouts with nine seconds remaining in the first half when the Eagles had the ball at the Chargers' 28-yard line.
Kelly needed to send his field-goal unit onto the field. With a timeout, he could have tried for the end zone or at least attempted to make it an easier field goal. Alex Henery missed the 46-yarder.
- Zach Berman
Trent Cole forced his second fumble in as many games when he beat Chargers tackle King Dunlap and stripped running back Ryan Matthews. San Diego had first and goal at the Eagles 9 but coughed up its second turnover inside the 10 in the first half.
Cole opened last week's game against the Redskins with another strip. Cole faced Dunlap for most of the game, and the former Eagle held his own. The left tackle was called for holding Cole at one point and was whistled for a false start another time.
But he and the Chargers offensive line did strong work protecting quarterback Philip Rivers, who was sacked only once.
Kelly places an emphasis on "response after turnovers." The Eagles had zero points to show for two first-half turnovers. But the flip side was that both turnovers kept seemingly inevitable points off the board.
Brandon Boykin forced a fumble with the Chargers 2 yards from scoring, and Cole forced a fumble with San Diego 7 yards from the end zone. So even though neither San Diego turnover gave the Eagles points, both kept the Chargers without points.
Defensive coordinator Bill Davis blitzed and blitzed and blitzed, and almost nothing could penetrate the Chargers offensive line and disrupt the quick-releasing Rivers. Davis sent linebackers DeMeco Ryans and Mychal Kendricks up both "A" gaps. He sent safeties Nate Allen and Patrick Chung from both sides of the defense. He disguised those blitz packages and sent pass rushers from other directions. And nothing worked. A week after the new coordinator seemed to push every right button - at least through three quarters - his defense was predictable.
Tight end James Casey, one of the Eagles priorities in free agency, played on offense in the first quarter of Sunday's game. Casey played only two snaps in the previous game, and both were kneel-downs. Casey came in on a third and goal from the 2-yard line Sunday. Michael Vick threw him a pass in the end zone, and it appeared Casey came down with the catch. But the play was ruled incomplete, and further examination revealed Casey might not have hung onto the ball.
Kelly didn't challenge the play and settled for the field goal. It was Casey's most noteworthy first-half action, but it was evidence that he still has a role, as the coaching staff insists.
In a game in which there were only four punts - only one from San Diego - special teams played a factor and hindered the Eagles.
Kicker Alex Henery missed a 46-yard field goal wide right before the half. And after the Eagles took their first and only lead, 27-23, in the fourth quarter, Henery could have recovered a fumble when Fozzy Whittacker lost the ensuing kickoff. The ball rolled more than 10 yards, through Henery's hands, and the Chargers recovered it 21 yards down field at the Eagles 39. San Diego went back ahead with a touchdown seven plays later.
The Eagles have rotated defensive linemen, but they also rotated outside linebackers in Sunday's first half. Connor Barwin and Trent Cole retreated to the sideline, and Brandon Graham and Casey Matthews entered the game.
When the Eagles elected to keep only three outside linebackers on the roster, it seemed a curious decision. But the team insisted Matthews could also play as a rush linebacker, which is how he was used Sunday. Matthews didn't have much success rushing the passer, although he recovered a fumble. - Z.B.