The Kansas City Chiefs have landed in the “City of Brotherly Love” but believe me, there was no sign welcoming Andy Reid back to the city where he coached for the last 14 years. Reid is firmly in the camp of the enemy as far as the Philadelphians are concerned, and there is no love to be extended to this “former brother of the city.” With Reid, now head coach of the Chiefs for just shy of nine months, he brings a team he’s revived from the ashes of poor management, coaching and play. His team is as prepared as any team can be after only a 72 hour turnaround from the their last game to play the new high powered, fast moving, explosive, college style, Philadelphia Eagles.
Through the first two weeks of the 2013 season, the Eagles have averaged 31.5 points per game. That total, though, has only been able to garner them a 1-1 record, as they dropped a heartbreaker on Sunday to the San Diego Chargers. During that same time, the Chiefs have averaged 22.5 points per game, which is a damn sight better than the 13 PPG from last season, but just won’t be enough to cover the score happy Eagles.
However, while the Chiefs have an offense that could literally explode at any time (Charles has yet to break a run longer than 20 yards and Smith is still contained somewhat in his WCO box) the Eagles defense doesn’t seemed primed to handle an explosion of any kind.
During the opening week of the season, the Eagles defense (or lack thereof) allowed the Washington Redskins to come roaring back from a huge halftime deficit to make the game interesting for guys like me who stayed awake long enough to see the end. And last week, they weren’t able to hold off the Chargers, led by Phillip Rivers, and win the ball game. To say the Eagles defense has some holes would be a huge understatement. If Andy Reid wants to stick it to his old team (and I don’t care what he says in press conferences, I know at least some part of him does) he will have to figure out a way to find those holes and continue to exploit them while his offensive unit is on the field.
Currently, the Eagles are ranked 30th in the league for total yards allowed. They are 28th for points allowed per game (30), 19th for rushing (100 YPG) and finally 31st for passing allowing a staggering 360.5 yards per game. Now, we know that Alex Smith will likely not pass for that much, but there is hope. In breaking down the Eagles D, I’ve think I’ve found a couple of those holes that Reid will have to exploit.
#1 Cedric Thornton
One thing I’ve noticed in going through the Eagles players is that the overwhelming majority of the tackles over the first two weeks have come from their linebacking corps or their secondary. Very few tackles have been made up front, which is why they’re so poor against the run and even the pass. They are getting little to no pass rush up front and have less than half the sacks that the Chiefs do. That starts with defensive end Cedric Thornton. Because the Eagles run a “hybrid” 3-4 scheme, the run stopping should start with the D linemen. The fact that it’s not, shows that the line is vulnerable to five yard chunks of yardage on the ground.
#2 Mychal Kendricks
Kendricks was drafted in the second round of the 2012 draft by Reid during his tenure in Philly. The guy is a talented linebacker who currently leads the team in tackles with 18. He also has two fumble recoveries on the young season as well. However, Kendricks suffered a minor groin injury and has just come back to practice. He’s listed as probable for Thursday night’s game, which means he’ll likely get the nod, but may not be as quick to get to the ball carrier. If the Chiefs run the ball more than usual against the Eagles in order to burn up the clock and keep Vick and company on the sideline, those long drives could wear on Kendricks, reducing his effectiveness.
#3 Patrick Chung
Chung signed with the Eagles during the offseason as a free agent and has found some early success with the team. He’s generally a good safety, but could be presented with a bit of a mismatch on Thursday night against the Chiefs tight ends. At 5’11”, Chung has a considerable height disadvantage against the Chiefs’ Anthony Fasano (who is listed as questionable with an ankle injury), Travis Kelce (who is also listed as questionable with a knee injury) and Sean McGrath (who is listed as “epic” with the best beard in the NFL.) All three of these men are over 6’4” and can catch the ball. If Chiefs quarterback Alex Smith is looking for that mismatch, he may have found it.
At the end of the day, this game will about defense stopping offense. It sounds cliché, but I think it comes down to whichever team has the ball at the end of the game. The Chiefs offense definitely matches up favorably against the Eagles defense. We’ll know how it all plays out tomorrow night.
Tags: Kansas City Chiefs