How Rivers, Chargers Decoded the Eagles’ Defense

0V3J8652Philip Rivers completed 77 percent of his throws Sunday. Threw for 419 yards and three touchdowns in the Chargers’  33-30  win over the Eagles. Took just one hit in the pocket, per the stat sheet.

If it looked like Rivers knew exactly what was coming, well, he did, according to several of the Eagles’ defensive players.

“Phillip Rivers just seemed to know everything that we were trying to throw at him,” said Cary Williams.

“They understood some of our calls or whatever was going on, it looked like he knew exactly what DeMeco [Ryans] was calling to a degree. He knew exactly what we were in to a degree. It was unfortunate. Sometimes you get outwitted, sometimes you get outplayed and I think today was one of those days.”

Rivers was able to get the better of the Eagles pre-snap. Connor Barwin explained that the no-huddle attack that the Chargers deployed wasn’t in the name of getting the snap off quickly. Instead, San Diego just sat at the line of scrimmage, allowed time to tick off the clock, and waited until the defense showed its hand. Once it did, the veteran quarterback made his adjustment and exploited the vulnerable area.

“We fell into it, showed our hand early, which I’m sure we’ll look back on tape and say we should have figured it out earlier and stopped showing what we were coming with,” said Barwin.

The Eagles yielded  539 yards in all. Rivers’ 36 completions were the second most ever against the Eagles in a single game, while the 22 passing first downs allowed tied a franchise mark set back in 1964. After a solid outing against Washington on Monday night, this performance served as a reminder that the unit has a ways to go.

“It was a totally different offense. [The Redskins] were a running offense, we shut them down. We had to kind of switch gears and we didn’t do as well stopping this west coast offense,” said Barwin. “The first time we faced it all year. I’m sure we’ll see it again and hopefully be better.”

Some of the struggles can be attributed to the massive scheme change the Eagles are undergoing on defense, and some of it can be purely placed on personnel. Safe to say the safeties will be written about quite a bit over the coming days and weeks.

But strategy was definitely a factor as well Sunday. Take the Antonio Gates-Mychal Kendricks matchup. The second-year linebacker had a very strong showing against Washington but had a rougher outing versus San Diego, particularly when it came to keeping up with the tight end.

“The routes I practiced [defending], I didn’t get any of those,” Kendricks allowed. “They came out with a different scheme than I even originally thought they were going to do.”

Gates finished with eight catches for 124 yards.

Billy Davis‘ group got the better of RGIII, Kyle Shanahan and company for a good portion of Monday’s game. (Granted, RGIII was coming in cold.) This week belonged to Chargers head coach Mike McCoy and his signal-caller.

“Three-man rush, four-man rush, five-man rush, six — we threw everything at them,” said Davis. “We tried to change it up, bluff blitzes and fall back. Phillip had a better day than we did.”

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