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Eagles Defense Key Factor In Loss Against Chargers

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By Kevin McGuire

The Philadelphia Eagles lost their home opener against the San Diego Chargers, 33-30. The loss extends the Eagles regular season losing streak in Lincoln Financial Field to seven. In fact, since the last Eagles home win in the regular season, September 30, 2012 against the New York Giants, 14 different football teams from the NFL and college have won in Lincoln Financial Field. How long could this streak extend? Andy Reid’s Kansas City Chiefs make a Thursday night trip to the Linc later this week.

PHILADELPHIA, PA - SEPTEMBER 15: Running back Ryan Mathews #24 attempts to elude defensive end Trent Cole #58 of the Philadelphia Eagles during the first half in a game at Lincoln Financial Field on September 15, 2013 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. The Chargers defeated the Eagles 33-3.  (Photo by Rich Schultz /Getty Images)

San Diego’s Ryan Mathews (Credit, Rich Schultz /Getty Images)

Quarterback Grade: A-

Mike Vick completed 22 passes for a total of 428 yards and two touchdowns. The passing total was a career high for Vick. The Eagles quarterback also did well protecting the football by not throwing an interception or losing a fumble, although he did lose 11 yards on a fumble that went out of bounds in the second quarter. Vick only took one sack as well, for a loss of six yards. The Eagles may have started slowly, but in the fourth quarter Vick led the Eagles on two scoring drives before time ran out. Generally speaking, when you get that kind of production out of Vick and he avoids turning the football over, the Eagles should probably come up on the winning end of the game.

Offense Grade: A-

The Eagles managed to put up over 500 yards of total offense (511) and averaged 8.7 yards per play. Right from the start the Eagles went to a no huddle offense in hopes of being able to continue the momentum from Monday night’s victory at Washington, but the offense stalled at midfield.

A week after picking up big significant gains on the ground though, the Eagles running game was unable to build much of anything against San Diego. LeSean McCoy managed to pick up just 53 yards on 11 carries and the Eagles ended the day with 89 rushing yards. McCoy did have an impact in the pass game though by accounting for 114 receiving yards to compliment DeSean Jackson’s 193 receiving yards. In all, the offense had over 500 yards and scored 30 points, including scoring points in the fourth quarter to answer San Diego on each possession. At home, that should result in a win.

Defense Grade: D-

This loss will be blamed largely on the shortcomings of the Eagles defense. Against a team coming off a short week and flying across the country for an early kickoff, the defense should have had a little bit of an edge. That was certainly not the case in this one. The Chargers put up 539 yards of total offense and drove right down the field on each of their final three drives for a total of 13 points to claim victory. San Diego did lose a couple of fumbles in the second quarter but the defense just could not get off the field on third downs. San Diego converted 10 of 15 third down situations. The defense remains a bit of a work in progress, but the physical style they started with against Washington in Week 1 was not on display in the home opener.

Special Teams Grade: B+

Alex Henery connected on three attempts but the one he missed certainly came back to play a critical role in the outcome of the game. Henery missed a 46-yard field goal, which is never an automatic attempt but it would have tied the game at 13-13 shortly before halftime. As it turned out, it may have allowed the game to reach overtime as the Eagles lost by just three points. Punter Donnie Jones averaged 44.7 yards per punt on three attempts and pinned one inside the 20-yard line. DeSean Jackson got involved on special teams for the Eagles, returning seven kickoffs for a total of 186 yards, averaging 26.6 yards per return.

Overall Grade: B-

The Eagles came crashing down a bit from their perch after Week 1, but there are positives to draw on. The offense continues to produce and should be the least of the concerns going forward. Perhaps, as expected though, the defense is a major problem. The Eagles defense showed some cracks in the second half of the season opener and San Diego managed to expose them all just a little more. Head coach Chip Kelly may have some questions to answer about his play calling late in the game, choosing to go to a hurry-up style late in the game being one of the more notable concerns, but this is Kelly’s style and he is likely to stick with it. If the Eagles had won this game they would have received a slightly higher grade, but the overall evaluation is not totally negative considering the positive marks on offense, quarterback and special teams.

For more Eagles news and updates, visit Eagles Central.

Kevin McGuire is a Philadelphia area sports writer covering the Philadelphia Eagles and college football. McGuire is a member of the FWAA and National Football Foundation. Follow McGuire on Twitter @KevinOnCFB. His work can be found on Examiner.com.

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