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Behind Enemy Lines: Chargers Much Better Than 0-3 Record Indicates


After an electrifying come-from-behind win, the Eagles head out west to face, fittingly enough, the Los Angeles Chargers, who are still looking for their first win of the season. Sunday's game airs on FOX at 4:05 p.m. with Dick Stockton, Mark Schlereth, and Shannon Spake on the call. You can also listen to Merrill Reese and Mike Quick on SportsRadio 94WIP or on Our live coverage begins with The Kickoff Show presented by Axalta at 3:30 p.m. This week, Ricky Henne, managing editor for ****, previews the matchup from Los Angeles' perspective.

1. Philip Rivers struggled as he threw three interceptions in the first half of Sunday's loss to the Chiefs. What can the Chargers do to right the ship on offense?

Henne: It's simple – Rivers just has to play better.

The future Hall of Famer put last week's loss squarely on his shoulders after posting the fourth-worst passer rating of his career. He hasn't had too many games like the one against the Chiefs, where he admitted he made poor decisions and bad throws. The offensive line gave Rivers plenty of time; he was simply off his game. This is a Chargers offense loaded with playmakers who are accustomed to being among the league leaders in points per game. Unfortunately, they've managed to find the end zone only once in each of the past two games.

A major reason they've struggled to score has been an inability to convert on third down. The Bolts have traditionally been among the most efficient offense's when it comes to third-down efficiency under offensive coordinator Ken Whisenhunt, but they've struggled in that area through three games. Finally, look for L.A. to feed Melvin Gordon on a consistent basis. The running back missed most of the second half with a sore knee against the Chiefs, but was off to a strong start after rushing for 55 yards in the first quarter. The Pro Bowl running back has found the end zone in each game this season.

2. Defensive end Melvin Ingram had three sacks and the Chargers' defense kept it a one-score game until late in the fourth quarter last Sunday. Give us a scouting report of this unit.

Henne: The defensive line is one of the best in the NFL, presenting a major challenge for offensive tackles. After all, how do you stop Melvin Ingram on one side with Joey Bosa come off the other edge? You can't chip both sides, so it's pick your poison between Ingram, who ranks second in the league with 5.5 sacks on the season, and Bosa, the reigning Defensive Rookie of the Year. Meanwhile, outside linebacker Jatavis Brown has been active over the first three weeks leading the NFL with 36 tackles. In the secondary, despite losing Pro Bowl cornerback Jason Verrett, the team still has another Pro Bowl cornerback in Casey Hayward. He led the NFL with seven interceptions last year, but is still looking for his first of 2017.

3. How have the Chargers transitioned to a first-time head coach in Anthony Lynn, while making the move from San Diego to Los Angeles?

Henne: The Chargers have fully bought into what Coach Lynn has preached, which is why they remain a confident bunch despite an 0-3 record. Lynn is a no-nonsense leader who tells it like it is, and has been the perfect coach during the relocation to L.A. The transition has been as smooth as possible, and for the players, it is completely in the past. It's really a non-issue. Their focus is solely on the Eagles, in what is an important game as they look to right the ship as we reach the quarter mark of the season.

4. For Eagles fans who are not familiar with the Chargers, who is an X-factor to watch on offense and defense?

Henne: On offense, it is Tyrell Williams. With so many playmakers like Keenan Allen, Antonio Gates, Hunter Henry, Melvin Gordon and so on for Philip Rivers to target, the 6-4, 205-pound Williams can oftentimes fly under the radar. That would be a mistake, as the third-year wideout is fresh off a 69-catch, 1,059-yard season in 2016. Not only does the Western Oregon product boast a big frame, but he has 4.4 speed that presents a rare size-speed mismatch for cornerbacks. If you ignore him, he'll make you pay. Kansas City made sure to eliminate his big-play ability a week ago as they had Marcus Peters shadow Williams for most of the day.

On defense, with so much attention rightfully paid to Joey Bosa and Melvin Ingram, Chris McCain is often overlooked. However, the defensive end has proven equally capable of getting to the quarterback this year, recording a sack in each game. If the Bolts can pester Carson Wentz even when Ingram and Bosa are getting a breather, it could be a long day for the Eagles' offense.

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