It would be painful to ask Eagles fans to relive the horror show bestowed upon them by the New Orleans Saints, but when discussing that game, there’s one thing that will always stand out; Sean Payton’s gameplan. Revealed in a great article by Peter King following the game, the Saints wanted to force the Eagles to put the game on the shoulders of their quarterback.
“Payton likes Wentz as a player, but his player-personnel analyst, Ryan Herman, gives him trends and numbers every week, and Payton tells the group two interesting ones about Wentz, from Herman: The Eagles are 1-11 when Wentz plays and they allow more than 26 points. And he’s 0-9 when he passes for between 308 and 364 yards, the point being if he does that, the Eagles likely won’t be running the ball well, and the Saints feel they can beat a one-dimensional offense.”
Whether you agree or disagree with the context of the statistics, the fact is, the Eagles offense struggled to do anything right in a 48-7 pummeling. There were many components to such a horrible defeat, but the stagnation of the run-game and forced pressure on Wentz was certainly one of them.
The Eagles now face an offensive juggernaut in the Rams, who need no explanation. One of the NFL’s most exciting and dangerous teams, Sean McVay’s offense has outscored its opponents by 425-313 this year and having a running back like Todd Gurley, who can sting you in both facets of the game and a receiver like Brandin Cooks, who posted three consecutive 100+ yard games between weeks 9-11 are only going to expedite that production. The Rams hold the ball for an average of 30 minutes per game and a stunningly low 8.7% of their drives end in three and outs. It’s safe to say that Jim Schwartz will have his hands full…right?
The ‘outlier’ if you will, could be Jared Goff, who although has been excellent during his time under McVay, has sometimes struggled to be consistent. Coming off a game in which he threw four picks against the elite Bears defense, Goff reminded the world that the Rams offense is indeed beatable. In the week beforehand, Goff completed just 51% of his passes in a win over Detroit.
There are three more games this season in which Goff has completed less than 55% of his passes and they all came against relatively strong pass-rushes. The problem with the Rams is that they have so many weapons and such a primal offensive balance that it’s really had to take an inaccurate quarterback and make him cost you games, because the rest of the team is so hot that they’ll just burn through and find other ways to win. But if the Eagles have any hope of stopping the Rams, it all starts with getting to the quarterback.
Now, the Saints were able to run the show because their offense was firing beautifully on all cylinders and without Carson Wentz, the Eagles may not have that luxury given how inconsistent it’s looked with their star QB in the fold. But when the Eagles simplified the offense for Nick Foles last year, it would be hard to say that production didn’t at least sit at the same levels in comparison to the weeks of dominance before.
Fletcher Cox has the second most QB hits in the NFL this season and that’s without a reliable interior partner or a solid rotation on the outside. The Eagles pass-rush has been able to generate consistent pressure all year long but has been unable to put the cherry on the cake due to offenses getting the ball out fast. If the Birds can find a way to bring their very best, as they did against the Cowboys, there’s no reason why they can’t keep Todd Gurley in check to a certain degree and force Jared Goff to make some questionable decisions.
The Eagles don’t need Nick Foles to come out and be incredible because frankly, the offense has barely been passable this season. But if he can manage the clock, somehow try and keep the Rams offense sidelined and ensure every drive ends with a kick, there’s no reason why the defense can’t begin to bear down on Goff and really make life difficult for the individual.
Stopping the Rams offense is like trying to stop an army invasion. But killing their general? That task could be a little easier if all resources are assigned to doing so…and an Army without a general is a vulnerable one.
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