COSTA MESA — The last time the Chargers faced the Eagles, Michael Vick was a starting quarterback and Chip Kelly was about to revolutionize the NFL.
Needless to say, StubHub Center will be hosting a very different Philadelphia team in this Sunday’s interconference matchup (1:05 p.m., Fox/11) — one the Chargers hope will result in their first victory of the season.
“The biggest challenge when you cross over into NFC, is you only see them once every four years,” said quarterback Philip Rivers, who led the Chargers to a 33-30 win over the Eagles in 2013. “(When) you’re playing the Chiefs — we can write out that whole defensive front by name, and all the DBs, before even turning on the tape.
“When you’re playing this team, you (only) know a handful of the guys. … It takes a little longer for you to get a feel for the actual guy.”
One face, however, will look very familiar. Before Frank Reich signed on as Philadelphia’s offensive coordinator in 2016, he coached in San Diego for three seasons – overseeing quarterbacks before expanding his responsibilities over the rest of the offense.
Reich and Rivers have a good relationship. In 2014, he described the quarterback as “one of the smartest football guys in NFL, bar none.” Earlier this year, he raved again about the six-time Pro Bowler in an interview with a San Diego radio station: “I can’t even tell you how much I learned from Philip.”
So far this fall, Reich – fired by the Chargers after the 2015 season – is the one having more success. With second-year quarterback Carson Wentz, he has helped craft an offense that ranks 10th in the NFL in total scoring. The Chargers, meanwhile, are lagging far behind at 25th.
Reich’s experience with the Chargers could also offer the Eagles’ defense some extra insight. Chargers head coach Anthony Lynn acknowledged that reality, but downplayed its potential advantages; after all, the team went through a similar scenario in a season-opening loss to Denver, which had re-hired former San Diego head coach Mike McCoy as offensive coordinator.
“Yeah, he has some of the terminology and language and keys,” Lynn said. “We may change some things up up front, but you face that every week in this league. You go up against a former coach.”
“It’ll be good to see Frank,” Rivers said, “but I don’t think from a game plan standpoint – and I imagine he would say the same thing – I don’t think there’s anything there that…