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Rams’ secret weapon against Eagles is easily solved…

It’s when Sean McVay whispers into Jared Goff’s helmet earpiece up until 15 seconds left on the play clock…that’s when the radio signal cuts off per NFL law…

Coach McVay is reading the defensive alignment for his young QB up until that point. The results have been good so far for the Rams’ offense.

BUT—all the Eagles have to do on defense is hold off upon declaring their alignment until 15 seconds have expired upon the play clock. In this case, patience is a virtue, and Goff is left to his own device. I like our defensive chances when that happens.

Okay, that’s a simplistic way of seeking the competitive advantage the Eagles need in Los Angeles this weekend. But it holds some truth.

Fact is, Goff is lighting up opponents on a regular basis so far in 2017.

“They’re using him a lot in the same way that Washington uses Kirk Cousins,” Eagles DC Jim Schwartz said from the team hotel on Tuesday. “A lot of the same kind of plays, a lot of deep balls down the field. He’s got confidence in throwing the deep ball. He’s got some scramble ability, nothing like we faced last week, but he’s moving around a little bit, running some boots (bootlegs) and some play-action stuff. He’s got a good command of the offense. They don’t take a lot of negative plays … they’ve lit up the scoreboard.”

At the heart of the Rams’ positive offensive change from 2016 is first-year head coach Sean McVay, who has transformed a stale, plodding offense into a dynamic whirlwind unit centered around third-year running back Todd Gurley and second-year quarterback Jared Goff. But it is the upgraded offensive line that is having the most impact.

McVay brought in veterans Andrew Whitworth and John Sullivan to shore up an OL unit that allowed 49 sacks last season. This year, the offensive line allowed just 10 sacks through the first nine weeks. And Whitworth, who played his first 11 seasons in Cincinnati, is paying dividends. He ranks fourth among 59 offensive tackles in his first season in Los Angeles, per Pro Football Focus. Sullivan ranks 10th among 29 qualified centers and has allowed just one sack this season. These upgrades give Goff more time in the pocket, allowing him to pick apart defenses. He has 2.6 seconds or more to throw on 54 percent of his dropbacks in 2017, compared to 42 percent in 2016, and he has improved his passer rating on deep throws traveling 20 or more yards in the air from 87.4 to 98.6.

The fear of the Rams’ vertical passing game has also opened up space underneath, forcing linebackers to not stray too far from the middle of the field and forcing secondaries to stay in zone, rather than play man coverage. This has helped all of the Rams receivers.

There is a bigger improvement on rushing plays, as this is the best run-blocking unit in the NFL this season, per Pro Football Focus. Through the first twelve weeks of 2016, the offensive linemen collectively earned PFF run-blocking grades of minus-20.4. This season they have been awarded a cumulative grade of plus-27.5, with left guard Rodger Saffold, right tackle Rob Havenstein and Whitworth the standouts at creating holes for their star RB Todd Gurley.

The end result is the Rams’ heightened ability to control the line of scrimmage, thus sustaining drives.

We’ve got our hands full with this bunch, let me tell ya!

Just so you know whom and what we’re up against, the Rams run a base 3-4 defense, and here are their current depth charts:

OFFENSE
POSITION STARTER 2nd 3rd 4th
WR Sammy Watkins Cooper Kupp Pharoh Cooper Michael Thomas
TE Tyler Higbee Gerald Everett Derek Carrier
LT Andrew Whitworth Darrell Williams Cornelius Lucas
LG Rodger Saffold Austin Blythe
C John Sullivan Austin Blythe
RG Jamon Brown Austin Blythe
RT Robert Havenstein Darrell Williams Cornelius Lucas
WR Robert Woods O Tavon Austin Josh Reynolds
QB Jared Goff Sean Mannion Brandon Allen
RB Todd Gurley II Lance Dunbar Q Malcolm Brown O Justin Davis

 

BASE 3-4 D
POSITION STARTER 2nd 3rd 4th
LDE Michael Brockers Morgan Fox
NT Ethan Westbrooks Tyrunn Walker Tanzel Smart
RDE Aaron Donald Morgan Fox
LOLB Connor Barwin O Samson Ebukam Carlos Thompson
LILB Mark Barron Bryce Hager
RILB Alec Ogletree Q Cory Littleton
ROLB Robert Quinn Matt Longacre Carlos Thompson
CB Trumaine Johnson Nickell Robey-Coleman Kevin Peterson
SS John Johnson III Marqui Christian
FS Lamarcus Joyner Blake Countess
CB Kayvon Webster Troy Hill Dominique Hatfield

 

SPECIAL TEAMS
POSITION STARTER 2nd 3rd 4th
PK Greg Zuerlein
P Johnny Hekker
H Johnny Hekker
PR Pharoh Cooper Cooper Kupp
KR Pharoh Cooper
LS Jake McQuaide

These guys are deep in talent and “want-to”…  Sean McVay should be considered for Coach of the Year just based on what his team has accomplished so far at 9-3. This game is going to be a barn-burner of a challenge for the Eagles, particularly for our defense.  You just have to believe the Eagles offense rises to the challenge and gives our defensive unit a decent margin of error.

TEAM LEADERS

PASSING YARDS

RUSHING YARDS

RECEIVING YARDS

TACKLES

INTERCEPTIONS

NFC WEST W L T PCT HOME ROAD DIV CONF PF PA DIFF STRK
Los Angeles Rams 9 3 0 .750 4-2 5-1 3-1 6-3 361 222 +139 W2
Seattle Seahawks 8 4 0 .667 4-2 4-2 4-0 6-3 290 222 +68 W2
Arizona Cardinals 5 7 0 .417 3-3 2-4 2-3 3-6 219 310 -91 L1
San Francisco 49ers 2 10 0 .167 1-5 1-5 0-5 2-9 202 298 -96 W1
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