WHEN: Noon Sunday
WHERE: Lincoln Financial Field
RADIO: WWL-AM, 870; WWL-FM, 105.3 in New Orleans; KMDL-FM, 97.3 in Lafayette; WDGL-FM, 98.1 in Baton Rouge
RECORDS: New Orleans 1-3; Philadelphia 1-3
COACHES: Saints, Sean Payton, 10th season (81-49); Eagles, Chip Kelly, third season (21-15)
LAST WEEK: By the time the game ended, Philadelphia’s offensive stats looked fine, but the numbers obscured another terrible start in a disastrous September for Chip Kelly’s team. The Eagles let Washington jump out to a 13-0 halftime lead, then failed to complete the furious comeback against a Washington team that has been far from dominant.
OFFENSE: Kelly’s high-powered offense has looked like anything but through the first month of the season. Philadelphia is ranked 29th in the league in total offense, and there’s been no single culprit to the decline. Philadelphia ranks 26th in the league in passing, 30th in the NFL in rushing and 23rd in yards per attempt. Prized free agent acquisition DeMarco Murray is averaging just 1.6 yards per attempt and asking for more carries; newly minted quarterback Sam Bradford has been merely pedestrian, completing 60.7 percent of his passes with six touchdowns, four picks and a mediocre 82.2 quarterback rating. Second-year wide receiver Jordan Matthews remains dangerous with 25 catches, but the rest of the receiving corps has been highly inconsistent.
But Philadelphia’s biggest problems might start up front. Bradford has been sacked seven times, the running game is averaging just 3.1 yards per carry, one of the worst numbers in the NFL and now the Eagles may be without the services of starting tackles Jason Peters and Lane Johnson on Sunday due to injury.
DEFENSE: Injuries have struck Philadelphia on defense, too. Kiko Alonso and Mychal Kendricks are both likely to miss Sunday’s game, and prized free agent cornerback Byron Maxwell missed practice with a limp on Monday. Philadelphia, despite the offensive struggles, actually ranks 12th in the NFL in both total defense and scoring defense, a signal that there’s some momentum on that side of the ball.
For the Eagles, the biggest problem has been a lack of pass rush. Philadelphia has just seven sacks, allowing opposing quarterbacks to stand and deliver against an opportunistic secondary. Philadelphia has a difference-maker on the interior of the defensive line in Fletcher Cox, and the outside combination of Connor Barwin and Brandon Graham has produced pressure in the past. With so many linebackers battling injuries, though, the Eagles’ real strength is in a secondary led by former Saint Malcolm Jenkins; Philadelphia has already picked off five passes, two going into the hands of strong safety Walter Thurmond.
SPECIAL TEAMS: An injury to Cody Parkey has left Philadelphia’s kicking situation on the unreliable leg of Caleb Sturgis, and the Eagles’ kick returners have produced a paltry 15.5 yards per return. Philadelphia’s punt units, though, remain dangerous; punter Donnie Jones has a big leg, and former Saint Darren Sproles is averaging 19.9 yards per return with a touchdown in his pocket already.