Philadelphia Eagles News

Coaches On Spot In Big Game Here

SAN DIEGO -- On the road, coming off a tough loss, the second half of the season ahead, you could call today's Eagles-Chargers game a first season's-crossroads kind of game. The Eagles need to get to 6-3 and beat a team riding a three-game winning streak and feeling really good about itself. And while we have spent all week talking about personnel and injuries and how the Eagles can overcome some losses in key places, we should also focus on the importance of the coaching staff here.

Adjustments are key. How can the Eagles sustain drives and put up big points against San Diego knowing that Philip Rivers and the San Diego offense will keep, um, charging? Big plays and little dinks and dunks are essential. The Eagles have to play their best offensive game of the season in this one. It may take 27 points to win the game.

San Diego's defense is similar to the one that Dallas employed last week. Same 3-4 look, same pressure from the edges with their linebackers. Shawne Merriman is questionable with a foot injury, but he is going to give it a go. How effective he will be is another question. How much of an issue is that foot?

The Chargers have good, aggressive cornerbacks and maybe they will jump a route and give the Eagles an opportunity to make a play later in the game. Personally, I think it is important to establish the line of scrimmage in this game and have a heavier-than-usual dose of early running. Still more passes than runs, but the Eagles need to know they can get the tough yards when they need them. I want Brian Westbrook and LeSean McCoy to split the touches relatively evenly, with a sprinkling of Leonard Weaver mixed in.

I don't want Donovan McNabb taking seven-step drops on every third down, so the Eagles have to have success on first and second down to make third downs manageable. Big assignment. I think the Eagles are good enough up front to win the line of scrimmage and I think the receivers will get open. I think, in short, that the Eagles can move the ball in many ways in this game.

Defense is an entirely different challenge, and there is no idea what to expect from Sean McDermott. That matchup against Antonio Gates is so huge and seems to favor San Diego so much. The Eagles have already had troubles stopping tight ends, and now they have to play against the most athletic one of all with a linebacker corps that is ever-changing? How is McDermott going to scheme this one?

If the Eagles use a personnel grouping that has Chris Gocong in the middle, with Will Witherspoon at WILL and Moise Fokou at SAM, well, has there ever been a time when the linebackers are less experienced with each other and with their positions? Ever?

There are also questions in the secondary as the cornerback group has been thinned by suspension (Joslio Hanson, gone for four games) and injury (Ellis Hobbs, on IR with a neck injury). San Diego's very large and very explosive group of wide receivers has already been discussed throughout the week, and it is obviously one of the many games within the game to watch today.

I think this one, as much as it is on the players, too, is a game for the Eagles coaching staff to win. They have to be one step ahead of San Diego and they have to win tactical battles. They have to create a scheme advantage, even when there isn't one there from a personnel perspective.

On the road, down after losing to Dallas, the Eagles have a whale of a tough second half of the season ahead. Storming into San Diego and getting a win here is huge, huge, huge. To do so, the coaching staff has to earn a decisive victory on the sidelines and in the coaching box.

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