The Philadelphia Eagles are looking to run their record to 2-0 this afternoon against the San Diego Chargers, and they already impressed us last week by defeating a division rival in the Washington Redskins 33-27. Meanwhile, the Chargers gave the Houston Texans quite a scare on Monday Night Football, and both teams definitely looked encouraging in their MNF openers. Below are five players to watch for on the Eagles as we head into the game.
1. RB LeSean McCoy
LeSean McCoy is the lifeblood of the Philadelphia Eagles offense right now, and he had an absolutely monstrous day against the Washington Redskins. McCoy was given the rock 31 times, and he averaged 5.9 yards per carry for a total of 184 yards. Coming into the season, we knew McCoy would benefit from the faster-paced offense and Chip Kelly’s desire to run the football more often, but I don’t think anyone saw those kinds of numbers coming. The Chargers run defense looks better than the Redskins version on paper, and they did a really nice job of shutting down Arian Foster last week. I don’t think they’ll have similar success against McCoy, but I highly doubt he scampers for over 150 yards again. That’s not something I’m willing to bet on, though, because McCoy is just that good, and he’s also a better player than Foster anyway.
2. LT Jason Peters
An elite left tackle in this league, Jason Peters held his ground pretty well last week, but he has a tough challenge ahead of him this week. The one guy who can consistently do significant damage as a pass rusher on the San Diego Chargers is Dwight Freeney, and the early returns on his investment have been huge. Of course, the “early return” is just one game in this case, but Freeney was just that great against the Houston Texans. He managed to make an elite left tackle in Duane Brown look foolish, and that is certainly no easy feat. Peters is next on Freeney’s list, and Freeney looked back to his old self after last week’s huge performance. He is so important to the Chargers defense, and Peters has to keep him away from Michael Vick. Freeney put a lot of pressure on Matt Schaub last week, and Peters needs to be up to the task.
3. WR DeSean Jackson
Shareece Wright looked promising last week, and the Chargers depth at CB looks noticeably better with Richard Marshall in the fold as well. But the only guy on the Chargers who I would feel safe pitting against a high-level wide receiver is Derek Cox, and I think we’ll see him get the majority of the snaps covering DeSean Jackson. Without Jeremy Maclin, Jackson is the heart of the Philadelphia Eagles wide receiver corps, and he absolutely blew up DeAngelo Hall to the tune of seven receptions for 104 yards and a TD on just nine targets. Those are incredible numbers, and Jackson is headed for the best year of his career. However, Jackson started to fall back down to earth once Hall started to play more physical with him, and Cox has the ability to do that with his size. That’s something to watch for, and I think Cox needs to press Jackson off of the line of scrimmage. Cox isn’t the player Jackson should be worried the most about either, because he will have an elite safety to contend with in Eric Weddle, who is great at just about everything. If Weddle is bracketing Jackson, then Michael Vick will probably have to look elsewhere.
4. OLB Trent Cole
Trent Cole is an outside linebacker now in the Philadelphia Eagles 3-4 scheme, and he had a mixed back against the Washington Redskins last week. Although he put in a couple of hits on RG3, Cole showed some issues at his new position by not getting consistent pressure, but that will improve once he has more experience at OLB. Cole is an elite talent, and one thing that doesn’t get talked about enough is his run defense; he is a monster against the run. King Dunlap is the Chargers left tackle, and that’s a very winnable matchup for Cole, and I would be surprised if he doesn’t have a big day in run defense and as a pass rusher.