Birds battle Rams in home opener
After a disappointing week 1 loss to the Washington Football Team, the Philadelphia Eagles will look to secure their first victory of the season when they match up against the Los Angeles Rams in week 2. The Rams managed to best the Dallas Cowboys in their season opener and will look to build on their success against another NFC East team when travelling to Philadelphia for week 2
3 Keys to an Eagles Victory
Protect Carson Wentz
The source of the Birds troubles in week 1 can easily be traced back to their inability to provide sufficient protection for quarterback Carson Wentz. While he does have to be accountable for his poor performance down the stretch against the Washington Football Team, his decisions were often rushed as a result of immense pressure leaking through the Eagles front line. Allowing 8 sacks is a recipe for disaster for just about any quarterback in this league.
This task of protection is especially important when your opponent has Aaron Donald, the most fearsome pass rusher this league has to offer. Donald was an absolute menace in week 1, hitting Cowboys quarterback Dak Prescott a total of four times and registering a key sack. It is likely that the Eagles will have to resort to a combination of double teams and tight-end chip blocks to slow down Donald. Whatever it takes, this will be a priority for the Eagles as with Wentz under constant duress, they won’t be able to string enough positive plays together to drive the ball down the field.
Veteran tackle Jason Peters did not practice earlier in the week but it is hopeful he will suit up for Sunday. Fellow tackle Lane Johnson practiced in a limited fashion.
Take away Robert Woods
Despite losing all-pro running back Todd Gurley this off-season, the Rams still boast an impressive quantity of offensive weapons. Their three-headed attack at the running back position currently consists of Malcolm Brown, Darrell Henderson, and rookie Cam Akers. They also feature two capable tight ends, Tyler Higbee and Gerald Everett. However, it is their wide receivers, Robert Woods and Cooper Kupp, who pose the most dangerous threats for opposing defenses.
Cooper Kupp is the more lethal touchdown option of the two, but I think the Eagles priority should be curtailing the production of Robert Woods. During extended drives, Rams quarterback Jared Goff looks to Woods as the first read and feeds him early and often. In week 1, Woods caught 6 of 8 targets and eclipsed the century mark with 105 yards. He also has potential on the ground and generally receives at least one end-around carry per game.
Unfortunately, the Birds only have one Darius Slay and they will have to choose whether to employ his services against Woods or Kupp for this contest. My vote is to take out the Rams possession receiver.
Establish an identity on offense
After such a promising start to week 1, the Birds offense continually stalled and failed to get anything going for the entirety of the second half. If the Eagles want any chance of winning this game, that scenario can’t repeat itself this coming week.
A huge help towards establishing an offensive identity will be the probable return of second year running back Miles Sanders. If the Eagles are able to produce on the ground early in this game, it should take some pressure off of the offensive line, giving Carson Wentz some room to breathe and make better decisions. Ezekiel Elliot was able to find some success against the Rams front in week 1, rushing for 96 yards on 22 carries. Boston Scott was entirely ineffective in week 1 and I fully expect all of his work to be shouldered by Miles Sanders.
Tight End Zach Ertz is allegedly disgruntled and amid contract negotiations with the Eagles front office. That can be a distraction for any player but the Birds really need his reliable pass-catching this Sunday. While the Eagles are still struggling to field consistent receiving weapons on the outside, their passing identity has a genuine chance to be fueled by explosive tight ends Ertz and Goedert. We haven’t seen an offense prominently feature two tight ends of this athletic caliber since Gronkowski and Hernandez in New England so many years ago.
I think the Birds will give the Rams a real battle on their home turf but I don’t think they have quite enough firepower to keep up. The long history of 0-2 teams doesn’t bode well for the future of this Eagles season but maybe a desperation in their play is just what the teams needs. Rams 24, Eagles 20.