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Defense Has Its Hands Full Vs. Rams

Posted Dec 5, 2017

COSTA MESA, Calif. – Los Angeles Rams quarterback Jared Goff is not Russell Wilson, so he’s not going to challenge the Eagles with a whirling dervish act, as Wilson did on Sunday night in Seattle’s 24-10 win. But Goff, the first pick in the 2016 NFL Draft, has Eagles defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz’s attention.

Goff, after all, oversees the NFL’s highest-scoring offense (tied with the Eagles with 361 points scored). And while Goff might not be Wilson-like, Schwartz did find a flattering, and dangerous comparison for Goff.

“He’s still young. They’re using him a lot in the same way that Washington uses Kirk Cousins,” 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.”

Schwartz said he didn’t think any player, and he included himself in the critique, would say he had “his best performance” at Seattle when the Eagles allowed three red zone touchdowns to Wilson and the Seahawks. Schwartz, actually, thought that some had “probably one of their worst” performances of the season. So the goal, obviously, is to play a great game on Sunday against an offense that is balanced, that has a standout running back in Todd Gurley, and impresses the entire league with an inventive scheme.

It’s a big challenge for the Eagles. Don’t sleep on the Rams. Don’t take them for granted. Schwartz called Gurley a “marquee” running back, and he’s right. Gurley is as dangerous as any back in the league when he takes a handoff or catches a pass.

“We have to get back to playing our style of football because the Rams can hang 40 and 50 on you,” Schwartz said.

That means playing “clean” football, which essentially means minimizing penalties, tackling well, and getting off the field on third down. The Eagles weren’t as good on Sunday night as Schwartz wanted in any of those phases.

So now it’s off to a new game and the chance to get back into the win column. The Eagles have to win at the line of scrimmage, bow up against Gurley, and take Goff out of his comfort zone.

“For us to play good defense we have to tackle well and when we do we limit big plays,” Schwartz said. “We don’t give up 20-yard plays and more. That’s been a key part of our formula so far.”

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