It’s no secret the L.A. Rams are out to knock off the Eagles from Super Bowl contention in 2018/19. Everything the Rams have done in the offseason has been designed to add firepower to a core group of players who already felt they were close to (if not better than, talent-wise) the Eagles.
With that premise in mind, I was wondering if the Eagles have sent scouts down I-95 about 100 miles south to soak in the Rams’ joint practices with the Ravens this week?
I doubt the Eagles organization would admit that, even if it were true.
But I had a spy at the Rams-Ravens joint practice on Monday. He is Ryan Mink, who is officially a Ravens.com media writer, but he has a long track record of objective analysis minus the homer bias, kinda like our guy ~BROZ at Drafttek.
Here is what Ryan saw in the new-look Rams, who, make no mistake about it, are coming to the 2018 season with the goal of knocking off the Eagles as NFC Champs:
“Baltimore’s revived passing game that has drawn rave reviews this offseason didn’t have many highlights versus the Rams’ talented secondary featuring Aqib Talib, fellow Pro Bowl cornerback Marcus Peters and safety Lamarcus Joyner.”
(Ravens HC John Harbaugh, and nearly all the reporters [and Eagles scouts?], watched the Ravens offense vs. Rams defense throughout 11-on-11 drills. The Ravens defense took on the Rams offense on a separate field.)
“I thought we did fine,” Harbaugh said. “We were okay. It was just okay. It was a work day.”
[Translation—it wasn’t fine…the Rams’ secondary, which has been re-tooled to ultimately demolish the Eagles’ passing game, completely stymied the Ravens’ air attack on Monday.]
“It’s tough to know really what to make of it,” Ravens QB Joe Flacco said. “I thought we had some ups and downs today, but we finished well the last few periods. It was a lot of fun.”
Translation— there were way more downs than ups for the Ravens in their drills against the Rams’ new defensive alignment.
Here are some Ryan Mink notes from Monday’s practice:
- Michael Crabtree and Talib [they HATE each other!] lined up opposite each other 10 times without incident. Talib broke up the only pass that came their way, reaching around Crabtree on a comeback route. The two seemed to hardly touch each other.
- Not sure if the Ravens drew short straw or are just being gracious hosts, but they were in their purple jerseys while the Rams were in all white. The Rams had to adjust from temperate California to sweltering Maryland humidity. [White shirts are better in 95-degree heat!]
- Wide receiver John Brown had the Ravens’ best offensive play when he leapt high to snag a long pass despite Rams safety Blake Countess coming over top of him. Countess also got his hands on the ball and landed on Brown, but the Ravens free-agent addition held on.
- On the first play for the L.A. defense, Flacco bailed out of the pocket to his left after his initial reads were covered. He eventually threw a pass for a touchdown, eliciting cheers from the crowd. L.A. Defensive coordinator Wade Phillips disagreed with the way the crowd interpreted the play, however, turning around to yell, “Sack!” With the strong Rams coverage on that first rep, he was probably right.
- Rams Linebacker Bryce Hager flashed a bit in the early goings of practice as well. The fourth-year linebacker out of Baylor recorded a pass deflection on a swing route during 7-on-7. Then he had a nice thump on a run play during 11-on-11. Both plays came against Baltimore’s second offense with Hager playing with the Rams’ second defense.
- Rams Linebacker Ramik Wilson also made an impact during the first 11-on-11 drills. Playing next to signal-caller Cory Littleton, Wilson first made a run stuff on a play, coming up to hit the running back right at the line of scrimmage. Two plays later, he nearly had an interception after tipping a ball up at the line of scrimmage. Throughout camp, Wilson has shown a proclivity for getting his hands on the football.
- The Rams worked on their punt return against the Ravens between 11-on-11 periods. L.A. had returner Pharoh Cooper back, but only ran through a full punt return a few times. There was more work on fielding directional punts, two Rams players attempting to block a Ravens gunner, and going after a punt for a potential block. Baltimore head coach John Harbaugh was on the field to watch the drills, which makes sense as he was a longtime special teams coordinator for the Eagles.
- Los Angeles’ offense did well during a third-down period. Going 11-on-11 with the Ravens’ defense, quarterback Jared Goff connected with wide receiver Cooper Kupp on 3rd-and-short with a quick out route to the right. Goff then hit wide receiver Robert Woods on a pass over the middle for a first down on 3rd-and-long. Woods was wide open on the play.
- Rams Kicker Greg Zuerlein hit four of his five attempted field goals against the Ravens, the longest coming from 51-yards out. Reserve kicker Sam Ficken continued what’s been a strong camp, nailing all three of his attempted field goals. Ficken’s kicks were from 43, 46, and 48-yards out.
- Finally, the Rams offense ended practice with a two-minute drill. In the scenario, Los Angeles started at its own 20 with 1:11 on the clock needing a field goal. Goff engineered a successful drive, finding wideouts Brandin Cooks, Woods, and Kupp to move the ball down the field effectively. Zuerlein nailed a long field goal to cap the drive, giving the offense a win.
- Rams defensive tackle Michael Brockers spoke about the benefits of joint practices on Monday afternoon. Monday marks the first time Brockers and the Rams have faced an opponent not wearing Rams colors since January’s loss to the Falcons. This week’s practices should provide the Rams’ defense a better idea of what to expect when it comes to games that count.
Teehee… “games that count”… you KNOW what he’s talking about there, doncha? The Rams are coming to get the Eagles! Bring it!!