The Matchup: Eagles Vs. Rams
Here’s a look at how the Eagles match up with the Rams.
WHEN THE EAGLES RUN…
We’ve discussed this topic once or twice in recent days, so I’ll keep it short: the Birds’ run game is horrible right now.
LeSean McCoy has carried 70 times for 192 yards (2.7 YPC). In the past two games, he has 29 carries for 39 yards (1.3 YPC). In our All-22 breakdown, we tried to show how the majority of the problems were on the offensive line. Does McCoy dance behind the line of scrimmage? Sure. But he’s always done that, and it’s been part of the reason why he’s been successful. Maybe he’s leaving some 3- and 4-yard gains on the field, but not much more than that.
Chip Kelly has been unafraid to call McCoy out for not hitting the hole in the past. And that hasn’t happened in recent weeks. If Kelly thought McCoy was the problem, he’d have turned to Darren Sproles or maybe even Chris Polk. That hasn’t happened either. The reality is that the Eagles are banged-up on the offensive line. Getting Lane Johnson back at right tackle should help, but he’s been away from football for a month.
And it didn’t help that the 49ers had a bead on what the Eagles were doing last week.
The Rams are allowing 5.1 YPC and 155 yards per game on the ground. Football Outsiders has them 19th against the run.
St. Louis plays a 4-3 with former first-round pick Michael Brockers and Kendall Langford as the starting defensive tackles. First-round pick Aaron Donald is a gap penetrator who can create chaos in the backfield. Veteran James Laurinaitis is the middle linebacker, flanked by 2013 first-round pick Alec Ogletree and JoLonn Dunbar.
The Eagles’ offensive line from left to right will be: Jason Peters, Matt Tobin, David Molk, Todd Herremans and Johnson.
WHEN THE EAGLES PASS…
Nick Foles played his worst game of the season last week. Granted, conditions in front of him were not perfect, but Foles failed to capitalize on opportunities downfield. That’s been a running theme this season. Per Pro Football Focus, 23.5 percent of Foles’ throws have gone at least 20 yards downfield. That’s second-most in the league, behind Arizona’s Drew Stanton. Friend of the blog Derek Sarley did a good job of crunching the numbers to show that the lack of success on the deep balls is killing Foles.
Jeremy Maclin has played at a high level with 20 grabs for 353 yards. He’s averaging 17.7 yards per catch and has five receptions of 20+ yards. Maclin’s numbers could be scary good with better quarterback play. The Eagles are leaving multiple 20+ plays on the field with him every week. That’s no exaggeration. Still, Maclin is on pace to set a franchise record for receiving yards.
Riley Cooper, meanwhile, has not produced. He dropped what could have been a game-winning touchdown last week and is averaging just 8.3 yards per reception. Jordan Matthews will continue to man the slot. He’ll have a height advantage against talented rookie Lamarcus Joyner (5-8).
The Rams start Janoris Jenkins and E.J. Gaines at cornerback. Jenkins is in his third year as a starter and has four pick-sixes in his career, including one against Tony Romo earlier this season. Gaines is a rookie sixth-round pick out of Missouri. The Rams go with second-year player T.J. McDonald and Rodney McLeod at safety.
Zach Ertz has just 57 yards receiving in the past two games. Foles and Brent Celek have been unable to get on the same page.
Up front, the matchup to watch is Robert Quinn vs. Peters. Quinn had 19 sacks last season. Peters is one of the best left tackles in the game. Tobin and Molk have to be ready for Quinn too as the Rams will twist him inside and run games and stunts up front.
As a team, the Rams only have one sack, but they’ve faced the fewest pass attempts in the NFL. Under defensive coordinator Gregg Williams, St. Louis will bring pressure. They blitzed Romo on 50 percent of his dropbacks two weeks ago, per PFF.
WHEN THE RAMS RUN…
Zac Stacy is averaging 4.3 YPC on 42 rushes this season. The second-year player out of Vanderbilt is a 5-8, 216-pound bruiser. As a rookie, Stacy had 973 yards, even though he averaged just 3.9 YPC.
The strength on the Rams’ offensive line is the left side where they have LT Jake Long and veteran Roger Saffold. Center Scott Wells has started 122 games in his career. Right guard Davin Joseph has 102 career starts. Right tackle Joe Barksdale is in his third season with St. Louis and has played well.
The Eagles are giving up 4.0 YPC (13th), but the run defense ranks eighth overall, according to Football Outsiders. Bennie Logan and Fletcher Cox have played well all season. Cedric Thornton had his best game of the year against San Francisco. On the second team, rookie Beau Allen flashed for the first time all season.
The Eagles are expected to once again be without Mychal Kendricks. Casey Matthews and Emmanuel Acho will split snaps on run downs. Both played better than expected last week.
WHEN THE RAMS PASS…
Austin Davis is completing 72.3 percent of his passes and averaging 8.0 YPA. The Eagles referred to Davis as a rhythm passer who gets the ball out quickly, but according to PFF, he holds on to it for 2.5 seconds or more 63 percent of the time. That’s tops in the league.
The Rams have allowed seven sacks in three games. The Eagles’ pass-rush looked better than it had all season against the 49ers.
St. Louis has size outside with 6-4 Brian Quick and 6-3 Kenny Britt. Quick is the team’s leading receiver with 16 catches for 235 yards. Cary Williams had some costly miscues last week, including a holding penalty on third down. Bradley Fletcher played better than he did the previous week against Washington. Brandon Boykin suffered a hamstring injury last week, but is expected to play. For the Rams, second-year player Tavon Austin has been limited in practice with a knee injury.
St. Louis will feed tight end Jared Cook often. He has 15 catches for 177 yards and will be a matchup problem for the Eagles. The defense played a lot of dime last week, and that could continue with Nolan Carroll II matching up with Cook. Malcolm Jenkins and Marcus Smith II could take turns on him as well.
Jenkins has played at a high level and has three interceptions in his past three games.
The Eagles have the best special teams unit in the league, per Football Outsiders. They’ve generated three touchdowns on special teams in the past two weeks – a kickoff return, a punt return and a punt block. Sproles will handle punt returns, and Chris Polk will handle kickoff returns. Cody Parkey has made 8 of 9 attempts, including a pair from 50+.
The Rams ranks 19th on special teams.