Chiefs matchup provides Eagles with a good chance to fix weak links

PHILADELPHIA, PA – AUGUST 19: Philadelphia Eagles WR DeVonta Smith (6) runs a route in the first half during the game between the New England Patriots and Philadelphia Eagles on August 19, 2021 at Lincoln Financial Field in Philadelphia, PA. (Photo by Kyle Ross/Icon Sportswire)

The Philadelphia Eagles go into tomorrow’s matchup with the Kansas City Chiefs as underdogs and understandably so. One team has reached the Super Bowl in consecutive seasons, the other is gradually working through a rebuilding phase. Nobody expects the Eagles to win on Sunday, but that doesn’t mean they can’t take some huge steps forward.

Through three games, it’s clear what the team’s most glaring weaknesses are.

  1. Run defense
  2. A lack of rushing offense
  3. A failure to help Jalen Hurts

It just so happens that the Chiefs will provide the perfect window of opportunity to at least work out some of those kinks.

Run defense

The Eagles linebackers have been targeted and exposed frequently and that isn’t going to change anytime soon. What does need to is the way that Jonathan Gannon deploys his personnel and the way he can coach up a relatively young position so that they avoid making history repeat itself.

Clyde Edwards-Helaire awaits and is coming off of his first 100-yard game of the season. It took a while for CEH to get going, but we all know how dangerous he can be and last week’s loss to the Chargers acted as a firm reminder of that.

If the Eagles are able to place a real emphasis on defending the run, especially with Rodney McLeod looking primed to make his return, then it’s going to force Patrick Mahomes to have to throw the ball. I know, that’s probably worse if anything, but the fact of the matter is that if the Eagles are going to be able to hang with any team in the NFC East, they’re going to need to learn how to stop the bleeding on the ground.

Antonio Gibson, Saquan Barkley, and the tandem of Zeke and Pollard will be unrelenting if this unit cannot find a way to stop the onslaught on the ground. There’s no better opportunity to right those wrongs than against a back of similar stature. It may seem counter intuitive, but allowing 133 yards on the ground per game is not sustainable and the team have to correct it sooner rather than later.

Rushing offense

This one’s nice and simple. The Kansas City Chiefs rank 31st against the run this year. They rank 32nd in rushing touchdowns allowed. 39% of rushing attempts against them have moved the chains.

The Eagles had three designed run-plays all night against the Dallas Cowboys and it cost them dearly, whether Nick Sirianni wants to admit it or not. You cannot build a backfield that diverse only to completely remove any chances to see a return on the investment. Not only that, but with Jalen Hurts struggling, it puts even more pressure on the shoulders of a quarterback who is already fighting against the tide.

The Chiefs can’t stop the run, the Eagles can’t start it. Something’s gotta give and we just have to hope it’s Sirianni who bucks his ideas up first.

The play-calling

The Eagles offense was promised to be one of creativity and flair. So far it’s looked like something you’d see in preseason. Streaks of targets to the same players in what has been a pretty simplistic looking base, a lack of rushing threats, and a complete lack of tight-end usage over the middle.

Hurts has been forced to throw deep down the sidelines which also just so happens to be the weakest area of his game. In comparison to game one where he strategically picked apart the defense, he’s had the rug pulled from under his feet over the past two weeks and just doesn’t yet have the arm-talent to deliver deep bombs without putting the ball in harms way consistently.

The Chiefs are allowing 70% of passes to be completed right now in what can only be described as a typical Spags disasterclass. The Eagles should be more than familiar with Steve Spagnuolo after his seven-year run coaching with the team. They should be even more familiar given that they have spent the last few years ripping his Giants defense to shreds.

Giving up a league-worst 7 yards per play, the Chiefs defense is begging to be picked apart. Not challenged vertically in explosive YOLO throws, not a flurry of out-routes all to DeVonta Smith. But picked apart methodically by coach and QB. Not only would it raise the confidence of both, but who knows, they may even cause an upset.

Photo by Kyle Ross/Icon Sportswire