Philadelphia Eagles News

Mike Groh Is Prepared For Challenge Against Rams

The Eagles cannot afford to start slowly again on Sunday if they want to beat the 11-2 Los Angeles Rams on the road.

Offensive coordinator Mike Groh knows that. Against a high-powered offense he worked with closely as the passing game coordinator/wide receivers coach in 2016, the Eagles could find themselves behind quickly if they aren't able to score early.

When meeting with the media on Tuesday, Groh spoke to what the Rams' offense, led by quarterback Jared Goff and running back Todd Gurley, offers and how the Eagles will have to play to keep up on Sunday.

"Both (are) tremendous players," Groh said. "You can see the talent and the commitment they have toward the game. They love the game of football. They've had really productive seasons."

That's for sure.

Gurley trails only Cowboys running back Ezekiel Elliott by 59 yards in the race for the rushing title. He has 1,203 yards on 244 rushes and leads the league with 15 rushing touchdowns. He has also added 504 yards on 49 receptions and four touchdown catches.

Goff ranks fourth in the NFL in passing yards with 3,934. He has a 27 touchdown passes to 11 interceptions and a passer rating of 101.2. With impressive receivers like Brandin Cooks and Robert Woods – both over 1,000 yards receiving – in addition to Gurley, it's no wonder that the Rams rank third in the NFL in total yards (5,493) and in points per game (32.7).

"Todd is having MVP-type numbers, and Jared is throwing the ball really well," Groh said. "So both those guys are playing at a high level."

Offensively for the Eagles, one key will be third down. The Eagles were 1-for-9 on third-down opportunities against the Cowboys and it contributed to a lopsided time of possession and the offense running just 17 first-half plays.

"Sunday we were bad on third down, and that wasn't just Carson (Wentz). When you go 1-for-9 on third down, it's never just one guy," Groh said. "It's a collection of issues, and we had those issues show up. We were 1-for-1 and then 0-for-8 after that.

"We have to do a better job on third down and sustaining our drives and getting more points out and more production in the first half."

When facing the Rams' defense, the primary focus will be the playmakers up front. Defensive tackle Aaron Donald is a Defensive Player of the Year candidate as he leads the league with 16.5 sacks that have resulted in 154.5 lost yards. The next highest in those two categories are 13.5 sacks (Denver's Von Miller) and 95 yards (Kansas City's Chris Jones). He also has four forced fumbles.

Donald teams up with nine-year veteran nose tackle Ndamukong Suh who adds 46 tackles, 3.5 sacks, and two pass deflections. Groh laughed when asked if those two are where it begins with the Rams' defense.

"Yeah, what do you think?" Groh said. "Yeah, they get your attention pretty quickly. They're really talented up front and very disruptive. They're worthy of all the praise they've gotten."

To keep those big guys off balanced and to keep up with the Rams' ability to score in a hurry, Groh will entertain the idea of the offense going up-tempo at times this week. The Eagles have used a quick-tempo offense on a few occasions during the season, including Wentz's first drive of the year against the Indianapolis Colts back in Week 3.

Getting ahead early will be a key to success in Los Angeles. But that's been true every week and the offense has had trouble finding consistency there. Groh made it clear the offense will be able to adjust in game to keep up if Sunday becomes a shootout.

"I do know we have a lot of comfort with that part of our offense," Groh said. "So when we are struggling, that's something that we can look to do, and have looked to do. And it's something we have done to start games. We have a comfort level operating that at the line of scrimmage and guys are confident with what we're doing there."

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