Chargers prepare for Eagles’ fast-paced offense
SAN DIEGO (AP) — The San Diego Chargers are traveling cross country and getting a first-hand look at the league’s newest offense.
They’ll be in Philadelphia on Sunday to face an Eagles team with a game plan that’s on the cutting edge.
“Everybody thought that offense couldn’t be run in the NFL and we saw last week that it can be run and run well,” linebacker Donald Butler said.
The Eagles have plenty of giddy-up in their approach to moving the football. New coach Chip Kelly brought his fast offense from Oregon to Philadelphia.
Not only did the Eagles beat the Washington Redskins 33-27 in the opening week, but they did so with an approach that seemed better suited for a video game.
The Chargers ran 53 plays in their opening-game loss to the Houston Texans. The Eagles ran 51 plays in the first half.
“I saw that and I said, ‘That’s crazy,’” Butler said. “But that’s what you have a couple days to prepare for. Try to simulate it out on the field and be ready for Sunday.”
That meant Chargers backup quarterback Charlie Whitehurst was doing his Michael Vick imitation at Wednesday’s practice in directing the scout team. Whitehurst was able to run in for a couple of scores, which the Chargers hope says more about Whitehurst’s quickness than their lack of covering him.
“Charlie can run, now,” Butler stressed.
But he couldn’t completely duplicate the stress the Chargers’ defense will be under as it tries to slow Vick and the Eagles. Philadelphia had 443 yards while running 77 plays in defeating Washington.
Butler knows better than most about the challenge awaiting, since he faced Kelly’s Oregon teams while playing for Washington.
“Unfortunately, every time we played Oregon we got blown out by 40 points,” Butler said. “You’ve got to be ready for the speed and if you’re not, you’re going to get gassed.”
It’s pedal to the metal and good luck trying to slow the Eagles. There has been talk about ways to temper their fast-paced approach — faking injuries, staying on ball-carriers longer after tackles — but that’s not Butler’s goal.
“Let’s get lined up and play,” he said.
What makes the Eagles’ offense so daunting is not only its philosophy but the players running it. That isn’t lost on Butler.
“They’ve got dynamic guys in just the right positions with DeSean Jackson, LeSean McCoy and Mike Vick,” Butler said. “Those are the big three they want to make plays with and we’ve got to shut them down.”
The elusive Vick seems like a perfect fit for what Kelly wants his quarterbacks to do. Rookie Chargers coach Mike McCoy said he’s noticed a fresh spring in Vick’s step as he embraces Kelly’s scheme.
“He’s always been one of the most athletic quarterbacks in the history of the game,” McCoy said. “He’s in a system right now that really takes advantage of his skill-set. He is perfect for what they are doing. He has been re-energized.”
On the injury front, linebacker Manti Te’o didn’t practice with a sprained right foot. Linebacker Dwight Freeney was a limited participant, but the club said it was for a non-injury matter.