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The teams are very similar, with aggressive and experienced defensive coordinators, and imaginative offensive playcallers. The offenses won the day, and the Eagles showed that having a bit more experience in head coach Doug Pederson’s program than the Rams have in head coach Sean McVay’s was a winning edge.
- Eagles: Down 28-24 at 2:28 in the 3rd quarter, the Eagles had a 4th & goal from the Rams 2-yard line. Instead of kicking the FG and taking the game to 28-27, Eagles head coach Doug Pederson chose to go for it, and QB Carson Wentz hit WR Alshon Jeffrey for a TD and a 31-28 lead. We would have kicked the FG, but Pederson has been aggressive most of the year – with the exception of the Seattle game, which the Eagles lost. If Pederson wouldn’t have converted there, he would have given the Rams an opportunity to go up 2 scores, although from a 98-yard field.
- Up 37-35 with 1:52 left in the game, the Eagles faced a 3rd & 8 from the Eagles’ 23-yard line. The Rams still had two time outs left, so a stop would give the Rams plenty of time to attempt a game-winning drive. Eagles backup QB Nick Foles was in the game. 3rd & 8 is a low percentage down, particularly with your backup in the game off the bench relatively cold, but the Eagles called WR Nelson Agholor’s number, Foles was on target to him as Agholor created just enough separation for the catch and game-clinching first down. Agholor has been an effective slot all year and Pederson’s decision to use him on this play was rewarded.
- Rams: Down 24-21, the Rams forced an Eagle punt from the Eagle 30. Earlier in the game, the Rams had a punt block on but narrowly missed the block. They went to the well again, and this time, got a solid block from special teamer Mike Thomas, Blake Countess recovered and ran it in for a TD, putting the Rams ahead 28-24.
- Ahead 35-34, the Rams had a 1st & 10 on their 35 when QB Jared Goff was stripped sacked by Eagles DE Chris Long, who beat backup RT Darrell Williams. The Eagles recovered and that led to a FG to put the Eagles ahead 37-35. Earlier in the game, RT Rob Havenstein appeared to turn an ankle, and Williams had to come in and replace him. Williams is a fairly inexperienced player and he didn’t have any help on the play. We wonder if this is one call head coach Sean McVay would like to have back.
- Eagles: The Eagles are slowly but effectively working RB Jay Ajayi into their rotation, and they also are using RB Cory Clement effectively as well. With QB Wentz lost for the season, we expect to see a more traditional running attack from the Eagles (less RPO), and the Ajayi pickup from the Dolphins may prove to be critical down the stretch.
- Rams: WR Tavon Austin was not in the game plan today. It appears that unless he is used out of the backfield (e.g. shovel passes, jet sweeps, etc.), the Rams chose not to use him. In fact, WR Josh Reynolds has shown up more as a receiver than Austin.
- Eagles: We noticed that in this game, when the Eagles had Wentz throw from a traditional set (no RPO or other play-pass element), Wentz wasn’t quite as sharp – it’s as if he simply is more comfortable on the move. The danger with giving him the run option is, of course, exposure to injury, which unfortunately, is exactly what happened
- Rams: Defensively, the RPO elements of the Eagles offense had the Rams on their heels for the entire game. DC Wade Phillips wants his team to play fast and up the field, but the RPO designs the Eagles presented had the Rams on their heels for really the first time this season.
- Rams: They didn’t seem to adjust to losing OT Rob Havenstein, and it cost them in a crucial spot as mentioned above. Also, the Rams defense didn’t have any answer for the Eagles’ RPO elements on offense. They never really adjusted and the Eagles for much of the game did whatever they wanted to do. It was easily the Rams’ worst defensive performance of the year.
- Eagles: The Rams narrowly missed a punt block in early in the game, and ended up getting one and a TD early in the 3rd quarter. The Eagles didn’t adjust, and it cost them a TD and the lead early in the 3rd quarter.
- We like how Sean McVay gets QB Goff to the line early in the play clock so Goff can have plenty of time to communicate with McVay prior to the mandatory coach-helmet communication cutoff. This system has allowed the Rams to consistently choose good plays based off of what the defense presents. The Rams did, however, burn a couple of time outs early in this game.
What We Liked
- Eagles DE Chris Long taking advantage of a backup tackle in a tight spot to create a turnover. That’s a good play and a result of good coaching and communication.
What We Didn’t Like
- The Eagles having one punt blocked, and almost two in this game. We also didn’t like Rams CB Trumaine Johnson being flagged for taunting on a 3rd & 9 at the Rams’ 33, with the Eagles down 28-24 late in the 3rd quarter. Instead of being 4th and 9 and probably forcing a 51-yard Eagles FG, the Eagles received an automatic first down, and ultimately a TD and a 31-28 lead.