October 2, 2023

3 takeaways as Eagles’ defense throws game away in loss to Chargers


AP Photo/Matt Rourke

The Eagles lost again. But unlike most of their other losses, they were competitive and they had a chance to win and there were even some things to be encouraged about.

They lost to the Los Angeles Chargers 27-24 at Lincoln Financial Field (again) in front of 69,796.

But the bottom line is they just weren’t good enough, and considering that the Chargers’ offensive line and secondary hasn’t been good as of late means this is a game the Eagles should have won, especially at home.

So take the positives out of this loss to the Chargers — and there really were some — but ultimately they lost, they’re 3-6 and for only the seventh time in franchise history they’re 0-4 at home.

They were better, but not good enough. 

Here’s three takeaways:

Same problems over and over again

Justin Herbert became the latest QB to put up huge numbers on the Eagles, and considering Avonte Maddox and Darius Slay both got banged up and had to leave the game, the Eagles didn’t have many answers for the Chargers’ passing attack.

They finished the game with rookie fourth-round pick Zech McPhearson at outside corner and Andre Chachere in the slot. McPhearson had never played defense in his career and Chachere had only played 20 snaps. They played as well as you could have hoped, but to put the blame on Herbert’s passing success lies on the defensive line.

This is a banged-up Chargers o-line, but Herbert had all the time he needed in the pocket, and he’s too good to let him just stand there and find open receivers.

Herbert dropped back 37 times and didn’t get sacked. Or even hit. The Eagles have been held without a sack three of the last four weeks, and considering that the d-line is the highest-paid and most decorated position group on the roster, that’s unacceptable.

Also, the Eagles have tied a NFL record! But it is not one you want.

The Eagles have now allowed five quarterbacks to complete 80% of their passes (Dak Prescott, Patrick Mahomes, Tom Brady, Derek Carr, and Herbert). That ties an NFL record set in 2015 by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. With eight weeks left.

Herbert was 32-for-38 for 356 yards with two TDs and no INTs. That’s 84.2%. Only two QBs have ever thrown 30 passes against the Eagles and completed 84 percent of their passes. Carr two weeks ago and Herbert Sunday. The Eagles didn’t have a sack in either game.

Coming down to the wire

This game came down to one drive, and the Eagles couldn’t get off the field. The Chargers were just a little bit better at key moments on that game-winning 15-play drive and converted a couple fourth downs and kicked a field goal.

Would it have been any different with Maddox and Slay on the field? Who knows.

But it doesn’t matter.

The Eagles had opportunities to get stops on that drive and they couldn’t do it.

Just not quite good enough.

Also, there was another bad penalty by Derek Barnett, jumping offsides and turning a third-and-six at the 28 into a thrd-and-one on the 23 that the Chargers easily converted on a keeper on the way to a late touchdown.

The Eagles have done a nice job reducing the penalties the last few weeks, but Barnett’s lack of discipline just continues to destroy this team. Barnett has four penalties and one sack this year. It’s inexcusable. And it keeps happening.

Sirianni keeps improving, Hurts to Smith is beautiful

One of the more encouraging things to come out of this game was Eagles’ head coach Nick Sirianni’s continued commitment to the run.

A week after the Eagles ran 46 times for 236 yards in Detroit, they ran 39 times for 176 yards against the Chargers, both games without Miles Sanders.

Does this mean Sirianni is over his obsession with throwing the ball 80% of the time like earlier in the season? I mean, you have to hope so.

It was good to see Jalen Hurts and DeVonta Smith finally on the same page, especially on the two second-half touchdown drives.

Hurts missed Smith badly on what should have been a touchdown just before halftime, but on the first TD drive Hurts found Smith for back-to-back completions of 23 and 19 yards, and on the second one they connected on five plays of at least 19 yards after they hit on only three of them in the last four games.

We just haven’t seen a lot of Hurts dropping back, seeing open WRs, and delivering them the football, so this was a very good sign. Especially against the NFL’s third- best pass defense.

The second half was actually one of Hurts’ better stretches in a while. He finally seemed to be looking to throw first, although when he did run he was very effective.

After a quiet first half (4-for-9, 54 yards), Hurts was 7-for-8 for 108 yards with a TD pass to Smith in the second half.

I’ve been discouraged lately by his inability to throw with anticipation and look down the field, but this was a very good day for him.  

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