The Eagles are preparing to face Kansas City in a week two clash that is bound to paint a true picture of Doug Pederson’s coaching character. There are naturally plenty of moving parts to this matchup, so here are the five key things to watch out for in week two.
Establishing the run:
If there’s one thing that the Eagles failed to do in week one, it was balance the offense and establish the run. Carson Wentz was forced to throw 39 times against the Redskins, while the Eagles backfield combined for 24 carries and a total of 58 yards…averaging just 2.4 per carry.
Against a Chiefs Offense that runs extremely similar personnel groupings, the Eagles simply have to suss out their committee attack and fast. Week one’s performance was anything but convince and actually looked just as underwhelming as when Ryan Mathews was under center. The Birds simply have to establish and sustain the run if their offense is to click against a Chiefs Defense that was shaken by an explosive Pats rushing attack, giving up three scores and 124 yards.
Who steps up at cornerback?
The Eagles are missing Ronald Darby, that’s no quietly kept secret. What is at this stage however is who steps up to replace him. Will the Eagles shift Patrick Robinson outside and bring Malcolm Jenkins and Jaylen Watkins into nickel looks, or will they instead ride third round pick Rasul Douglas?
It’s an interesting predicament, one which I explored in great depth here. If you want a full breakdown on all of the potential scenarios and starters in Sunday’s game, this article is your whistle-stop guide.
Dig down deep:
Carson Wentz was impressive in week one, there’s no doubt about it. However there were certainly times where examples of how far he’s come were balanced with how much of the Mountain climb remains. Wentz overthrew Torrey Smith twice after the former Niners wideout burned Josh Norman and missed on several passes that may well have been taken for touchdowns. If he had connected, the debate for NFL’s player of the week would have easily been made.
This should act as a warning however. In a game where both Defenses are dealing with severe injury setbacks, expect a lot of deep shots from both Smith and Wentz. If the pride of North Dakota State is able to continue his development on the deep ball, we could be primed to see the passing attack reach new heights against the Chiefs.
The Chiefs have a flurry of speedy playmakers who will be licking their lips at a weakened Eagles Secondary. It’s down to the pass-rush to make Alex Smith as uncomfortable in the pocket as possible. Brandon Graham showed great prowess in the week one win over Washington and he was joined by the newest pass-rusher to the next, Tim Jernigan.
Jernigan proved his worth against the Redskins, acting as constant barrage in the backfield, allowing the likes of Cox and Graham to once again force Cousins to throw under duress and give the secondary a hand, something they’ll need plenty of if they’re to hold off a potential Air-raid onslaught.
The Eagles Offensive line struggled to open holes for the run game in the season opener and if not for the athletic tendencies of Carson Wentz, the game could have been a lot uglier in terms of sacks and QB hits. Things won’t exactly get easier this time around at Arrowhead Stadium.
Notably, Jason Peters left the season opener early with a groin strain and if he’s fully recovered, he’ll have very little time to ease back in to his role. Justin Houston lies around the corner and has already shown the world how deadly he can be, sacking Brady twice just over one week ago, building on an incredibly successful career. Should Peters go down or the Eagles feel the need to fall on Halapoulivaati Vaitai, well, we’ve already seen that the step forward he was expected to take in year two simply hasn’t arrived yet.
On the opposite side of the field is Dee Ford. He lines up against Lane Johnson which should be a thrilling matchup in its own right, but after a ten sack season last year, Ford started the year off hot just as his fellow pass-rushing teammate did….and hey, he even managed to C O V E R Rex Burkhead, so there’s that.
In the middle of it all is a foe the Eagles know all too well, Bennie Logan. Against Jason Kelce who didn’t exactly have a great outing in week one, Logan will surely have a chip on his shoulder as he plays his former team. What Logan does best is stop the run…and what the Eagles failed to do at all in the season opener was run the ball. This matchup is going to be key.
Mandatory Credit: Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports