The Eagles soared to a victory in Washington despite Doug Pederson’s masochistic play calling. Week 2 presents a new challenge as the Eagles head to Missouri to face the Kansas City Chiefs. The Chiefs won a huge game last Thursday against the Super Bowl champion New England Patriots behind an explosive Alex Smith led offense (yeah you read that correctly). If the Eagles hope to remain undefeated they need to play more consistently on offense and have guys flying to the ball on defense.
The Chiefs offense in Week 1 featured a surprisingly vertical attack, which is uncharacteristic for a team led by the pedestrian Alex Smith. Kareem Hunt and Tyreek Hill should scare any defense, especially one that saw their top cornerback go down in their first game. Ronald Darby’s absence could really cause some problems for the Eagles. Patrick Robinson looked serviceable in relief of Darby, but he was also bailed out last week by several awful throws by Kirk Cousins. Jalen Mills put in a gutsy performance hanging with Terrelle Pryor and coming away with a couple big plays in the end zone including a pass break up and an interception. Brandon Graham and Fletcher Cox were living rent-free in the Redskins backfield all day in Week 1. This trend must continue if the Eagles defense hopes to slow down the Chiefs. Smith, who threw two long touchdown passes in week 1, was helped by a combination of a poor Patriots pass rush and a consistent running attack lead by Kareem Hunt. The Eagles pass rush should be far better then the Patriots and their run defense, which shined against Washington, should also slow the Chiefs down. The Eagles defense, however, needs to be aware of Travis Kelce who got several different looks in the Chiefs offense last week. Kelce even took a direct snap. The Eagles need to be physical with Kelce whether he’s running or catching the ball. Nigel Bradham and Jordan Hicks shined last week shutting down Jordan Reed, but the defense in general needs to tackle better to win this game. This week the Eagles will be challenged on the defense end. Jim Schwartz’s defense looked great last week, but without Darby and facing a more talented offense I do not foresee the defense playing at the same level this week.
Watching the Eagles offense last week was excruciating. The Redskins defense, aside from Josh Norman, was incredibly soft in the secondary. Doug Pederson, however, seemed skittish to attack them down the field. The offensive line had trouble in basic protections, which is perhaps why Pederson didn’t want Wentz taking too many five step drops. Instead, Pederson dialed up some truly awful screen plays that consistently failed to gain yards and consistently succeeded in killing any momentum the Eagles had. Hopefully this week Pederson realizes that Torrey Smith and Alshon Jeffrey will not block. For the passing game to be successful this week the offensive line must play better. The Chiefs pass rush is no joke. Justin Houston had two sack on Tom Brady last week and has been arguably the best pass rusher (when healthy) in the NFL since 2012. In the secondary Marcus Peters and Eric Berry did a masterful job in coverage. Berry, however, went down with an achilles injury which leaves a hole in the Chiefs secondary.
What the Eagles offense showed me in week 1 was a unit that played very little in the preseason. There was significant rust. Carson Wentz both over and under threw open receivers down the field. The O line failed to stop four man rushes and were saved multiple times by Carson’s escapability. The wideouts seemed unwilling or unable to put a helmet on a helmet in the open field. Some of these problems are indicative of weaknesses in the offense. Wentz deep ball is not where it should be for an elite quarterback, its still something he needs to improve. The offensive line may have been overrated. The play calling of Doug Pederson is questionable at best. The reality is there will be weeks where this offense will click more effectively then others. Some matchups will prove more challenging then others and this week’s challenge may further expose some of the Eagles’ offensive weaknesses.
Score Prediction: I think this game will be very difficult to win on the road: Chiefs 24 Eagles 16