There’s no defending the horrible interception that Eagles quarterback Carson Wentz threw in the end zone to kill a long drive last Sunday at Lincoln Financial Field. It made no sense because it was made on first down with the Eagles passer having already completed numerous underneath throws previously on the drive. There was no reason to take that chance.
Despite that horrible mistake, he wasn’t the only one stinking up the place this past weekend. Eagles quality defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz had no answers for Los Angeles Rams head coach Sean McVay and his masterfully designed offense. McVay was two or three steps ahead of Schwartz and his defense all day long as the Rams destroyed the Eagles 37-19.
It all began when the Rams got their running game going by simply attacking the Eagles up the middle and off tackle. McVay always emphasizes the importance of their offense being able to move the ball on the ground because that opens up all their passing game, which features play action passes out of many different formations.
McVay, who’s is only 34, took advantage of what the Eagles defensive backs and linebackers were keying when the ball was snapped. He would get them going one way with a run fake or motion, then come back the other way with a pass or run. His play action passes are identical to his running plays and that makes it very tough for defenders to recognize.
Once the Rams got their running game going on Sunday, McVay put together a masterful display of bootlegs, rollouts, reverses, counters, traps and all types of misdirections for the Eagles defensive backs and linebackers. The reverse to The Eagles defensive players and coaches are still trying to figure out what hit them.
Rams quarterback Jared Goff easily completed his first 13 passes because McVay had put together a gem of a game plan. Many of the throws were to wide open receivers on the run. L.A. shredded the Eagles linebackers and secondary but the key to it all was the running game, which set up the play action passes.
I don’t think the front seven of the Eagles is playing with the type of tenacity and aggressiveness that’s needed in order to excel in the NFL. They need to get angry and play with more emotion.
I don’t care if there are no fans in the stands. The players job is to show up fired up and ready to play. I don’t see the urgency from this defensive front to take on blocks and get off of them. The key to being a good run defense is taking on blocks and getting off of them quickly. I see too many Eagles defensive players getting blocked and staying blocked.
In addition, the Eagles linebackers and defensive backs didn’t do a good job of getting their hands on the tight ends and jamming them at the line of scrimmage. They gave tight end Tyler Higbee free releases and it was easy for him to get a step on the linebacker who was covering him because of the run fake.
The Eagles linebackers should have been moved up onto Higbee at the line of scrimmage, so they could jam him as he released. Instead they had linebacker Nate Gerry playing off the line of scrimmage and over the tackle. By the time he located Higbee after the Rams run fake, the tight end was three steps ahead of him and the linebacker knew he was in serious trouble. It wasn’t really Gerry’s fault, McVay was taking advantage of his alignment in the defense.
As for the secondary, Eagles defensive back Nickell Robey-Coleman was lined-up one-on-one with the Rams Cooper Kupp numerous times during the game. He got taken to school by the slot receiver time and time again because he allowed Kupp to beat him inside and this is a Cardinal Sin in man-to-man coverage. He’s got to play inside technique and do a better job of getting his hands on the receiver or he will continue to have problems.
On the Rams first third down play, Kupp was able to get inside of Avonte Maddox because of the way he used fellow wide receiver Josh Reynolds as a pick. The two Rams wide outs lined up next to each other and it created a problem for Robey-Coleman and Maddox because they didn’t do a good job of communicating with each other.
Numerous times in man-to-man coverage the design of the play and the way the Rams receivers lined-up put the Eagles defenders in vulnerable positions. The Birds defensive backs must communicate better with each other in order to avoid getting picked and caught out of position.
Other times the Birds didn’t identify the formation and were unaware of where the Los Angeles receivers were lined up. For instance one time Kupp lined up inside at a tight end position and was able to sneak by Eagles defensive back Marcus Epps, who was unaware of the position Kupp was lined up in.
The Eagles best cornerback Darius Slay held Rams wide out Robert Woods to only two catches and 14 yards. I want to see Schwartz utilize him even more in man-to-man coverages.