Rams at Eagles - Week 2 recap
3 keys to win
1.) Early execution
That first half was, save for a late Cooper Kupp miscue on a punt return (more on that in a bit), nearly perfect. The Rams scored three touchdowns from their first three drives and had limited the Eagles to less than 10 points in a dominant first two quarters of football. Once they began to empower their running game in the second half, it opened everything else up.
I thought the Rams' Week 1 win was largely due to their second half performance; I think this one was the opposite. They really dominated things early and just clamped down as time went on with a spectacular showing on defense especially at the back.
2.) Secondary success
The Rams' defensive backs through two games have been incredible. All of them in both facets of the game.
The cornerbacks have forced quarterbacks to look off except for when at confusing times Eagles QB Carson Wentz opted to test the Rams' corners particularly CB Troy Hill and CB Darious Williams. They each had an interception, and Wentz finished with less than 250 passing yards despite throwing the ball 43 times.
Both Dallas and Philly's coaching staffs have been loath to test them, but you can only work underneath space so often especially on limited returns (see: last week's 4th & 3 stop, this week's 4th & 2). The Rams are doing enough against the run that dinking and dunking isn't going to be effective for an entire game. The Cowboys and Eagles figured that out over the first 30 minutes of each game, but as they expanded to try and attack the corners neither found much if any success.
Stellar performances at the back.
3.) O-line = fine
There are going to be games where we won't be able to say this, so it's worth pointing it out for the time being.
The offensive line has been fine. Not good, but they haven't needed to be.
The passing game has been very short over two games (did the Rams run a single deep concept all day?), so the line hasn't had to block slow-developing plays in the passing game. And in the running game, they've gotten enough push to give Malcolm Brown and Darrell Henderson, Jr., just enough room to operate.
For all the worries about the unit in the offseason, they haven't been a detriment to their side of the ball so far which is as much as we could've asked for.
5 key factors revisited (from game preview)
1.) What Washington did up front
This ended up being more a part of the gameplan going in than it did the performance throughout.
In Week 1, Philadelphia did what the Rams haven't done in two games: trust the OL to block for deeper passing concepts and ask their quarterback to manage the space and make plays deep downfield. Today, Philly abandoned that negating much opportunity for the Rams' pass rush. The Rams still got a little pressure on Wentz from time to time, but it just wasn't needed on the whole because of the gameplan the Eagles had.
If anything, this key was the most important because it set up the parameters for the battle when Philly had the ball.
2.) Rams' running game
The line did just enough to serve up what might have been a breakout game for Henderson. Not only did he put up 81 yards on just 12 carries with a touchdown, but he supplemented that work with two receptions for 40 yards.
We'll have to see how bad Cam Akers' rib injury is over the course of the week, but 141 rushing yards from their running backs was plenty today especially given how much of the offense was predicated on establishing a solid running game (see: playaction and TE Tyler Higbee's 3 TDs.).
3.) Safety valve
The Eagles' shorter passing attack negated much of the impact of the Rams' safeties in that aspect. They did fine in run support, but they just weren't tasked with a ton today. Quite clear the Eagles saw S Jordan Fuller's Week 1 performance and adjusted accordingly.
4.) 12 personnel
The Rams didn't have to go too heavy with the line performing well today, but it might have also been due to TE Gerald Everett nursing a back injury. Still, a Higbee-Mundt duo could have definitely been used more if Rams HC Sean McVay wanted. That he didn't go to it as much is a credit to the line being good enough on its own to get as much out of the offense as they did.
5.) K Sam Sloman
He made his one field goal attempt, a short 30-yarder. The blocked XP doesn't instill a ton of confidence, but the Rams' red zone offense was so much better this week that his impact was lessened.
3 key matchups revisited (from game preview)
1.) Rams' front seven v. Eagles O-line
This was a really interesting battle given the gameplan. I thought the Rams did fine, but the line was taken out of the passing game. The linebackers were tasked with managing the spacing in the passing game and did pretty well all things considered. ILB Micah Kiser had a good second game, though I thought LB Kenny Young was a bit mixed up in the first half a couple of times.
The impact though isn't all that pernicious. You're talking about 4, 5, 6-yard plays. Sure, you can convert some 3rd downs on them (Philly was an admirable 7/12 in the passing game), but at some point you have to face the fire and when they did, the results for the Eagles' O were just not good on a day where they needed to be because of what the Rams' offense was doing.
2.) Rams LT Andrew Whitworth & RT Rob Havenstein v. Eagles EDGE
3.) Rams LBs Micah Kiser, Kenny Young, et al v. Eagles passing game
Welp, I answered it above already (I forgot this was the third key), but we saw this coming. The Eagles were going to protect Wentz with shorter concepts, and it worked. But this group was good enough throughout to turn the gameplan inside out.
Shout out to Kiser & Co.
Once again, McVay handed QB Jared Goff a gameplan with a very low level of difficulty. Once again, Goff executed it very well. In fact, he was even better early on going nearly the entire 1st half without an incompletion. He's processing things very well mentally. Great rhythm start to begin the year.
Would have liked to have gotten more from Akers today, but alas. Injuries are the devil.
Hendo was explosive and Malcolm Brown continued his short yardage excellence churning his legs for extra space when asked to.
The gameplan is so severe here as it's negating much of their effect downfield, but it's working overall so McVay has to keep beating the drum. Still, the effort in blocking is so high. They're not doing anything wrong. And you can see how easily Van Jefferson is going to fit into this attack. Much like Robert Woods and Cooper Kupp, it's not the physical tools that are required as much as the awareness and willingness needed.
Tyler Higbee catches touchdowns.
I want to give them a higher grade, but they didn't maul and they weren't tasked with a ton overall. They'll have bigger opportunity in weeks ahead.
The Rams ran a TON of 2-DL sets today. Not sure if the Rams just weren't worried about the running lane attack point or wanted more support in the middle, but it'll be interesting to see the final snap counts. It worked fine, all things considered. It's also something the Rams are going to have to contend with as teams work to figure out more ways to nullify Aaron Donald. The Eagles did fine with him today, but it took a TON of attention and manpower. He's so damn good, man.
Good game for Kiser and a bit less for Young, but given those two it was a really solid showing overall.
This secondary is so, so, so good.
I am really uncomfortable with Cooper Kupp returning punts if he's not going to just fair catch every single one that he doesn't let bounce. There's too much that could go wrong.
The fumble today was just a huge, huge, huge mistake. The Rams dominated the first half, but the scoreline lied about how close it was because the Eagles started a drive at the Rams' 11-yard line. And that doesn't include the risk of injury for one of the Rams' key players on offense. If McVay and first-year Special Teams Coordinator John Bonamego are committed to Kupp because he fields the catch the best, just let him fair catch it and get ready for 1st down.
And Sam Sloman is going to have Rams fans on pins and needles all year. Deep breaths, fam.
The gameplan on offense was fantastic. The shell on defense was stupendous. The Rams have played two games and have outcoached their opposition in both against two really good coaching staffs.
This team hasn't played to their full extent yet particularly on offense, but the limited 2020 Rams we've seen thus far have been very good.
We're 2-0 and headed to face an extremely good defense in Buffalo. We'll have to see how the injuries to Akers and LG Joseph Noteboom develop this week, but things are looking nice.
The 2019 Rams squandered a 3-0 start with a three-game losing streak thereafter. We'll have to see how the next month plays out, but the Rams are playing their way toward vindicating that stretch this year. And they're doing so largely because they have one of the brightest minds in the league as their head coach.