Week 1 has come and gone and well it did not go according to plan for the Eagles. The game against Washington seemed to be an easy win for the Birds on paper, but unfortunately, it did not go that way. With some bad play calls, injuries, etc. the Eagles ended up losing to the WFT 27-17. For the first time under the helm of Doug Pederson, the Eagles lost a season opener and their loss snapped a six-game winning streak against Washington. Now the Birds have to scurry and figure out a plan on how to defeat the Los Angeles Rams.
The Eagles have defeated the Rams in their last two meetings and the franchise has won six straight against the Rams dating back to 2005. I’m not going to pay attention to records like that because last week showed us none of those streaks mattered.
Heading into the season, the Rams needed to silence their critics, and they did just that in Week 1. In the end, it was a close game between them and the Dallas Cowboys, but led by pretty boy Sean McVay, the Rams were able to run the ball and pass the ball without any difficulty and came out with a victory.
The Eagles need to be aware of Rams weapon and two-time AP defensive player of the year Aaron Donald. Donald has 44 sacks in the past three seasons and had four QB hits, four tackles, one sack, and one tackle for loss against the Cowboys.
Coming out of a mediocre season, Jared Goff completed three passes of 30+ yards against Dallas with no touchdown pass. Last Sunday, the Rams were committed to the run and ran the ball 40 times compared to the 31 pass attempts made by Goff. Malcolm Brown got 18 carries and rookie Cam Akers had 14. Though they only averaged 3.8 yards per carry overall, they were productive running the ball on first downs. Brown will be something the Eagles must pay close attention to. He’s not exactly a home run threat, but he’s been their go-to for first down conversions in short yardage. With McVay still committed to a 3-man rotation at running back, will any emerge against the Eagles? Or will the Eagles' stout run-defense keep all three 'backs in check?
I think the biggest issue last Sunday, besides injuries, was Carson Wentz's performance. Wentz completed 24 of 42 passes for 270 yards, throwing two touchdowns and two interceptions. He also fumbled the ball twice, losing one of them. His attempts to extend plays that weren’t there was one of the reasons why he was sacked eight times. He just needs to calm down and play smarter. There’s no need to play as aggressive as he was playing this early on in the season. I believe he’ll turn around this week and we’ll see the quarterback we know and love.
With Miles Sanders out last week, Wentz had to rely on Boston Scott, who had nine carries for 35 yards, and Corey Clement, who had six carries for 19 yards. Wentz’s top target of the day surprisingly was Dallas Goedert, who ended up collecting eight catches for 101 yards and one touchdown. If Wentz wants to compete and look like the elite quarterback we all think he is, he’s going to have to play a lot better than he did against Washington.
Miles Sanders and Lane Johnson are expected to play Sunday against the Rams. The Eagles need all the offensive help they can get, and with Sanders coming back that will be a much-needed assist for Wentz. Considering the state of the team’s offensive line, Lane Johnson can be a massive help with the attempt to prevent the Rams' powerful defensive line from getting to Wentz often.
With Derek Barnett still out, Josh Sweat took the role and had a dominant game against Washington. Playing 70% of the snaps, Sweat managed to generate the fastest sack in the NFL per NextGenStats at 2.3 seconds. Brandon Graham went down with a concussion, but fortunately, he will be coming out of concussion protocol and should be ready for the game on Sunday. Barnett is questionable for Sunday, so there's a chance the Eagles will have both starting defensive ends available.
Hopefully with the return of some injured starters, the Birds will be able to turn it around this Sunday and come out victorious.