Philadelphia Eagles News

Misdirection plays frustrate the Eagles' defense

This wasn't the first time that the Eagles faced a Sean McVay-led offense. Most recently, the Eagles went on the road and defeated the eventual NFC Champions in 2018, holding the conference's highest-scoring team to 23 points which is more impressive considering they scored fewer than that total just once that season.

Two years later, the Eagles had no answers for McVay's offense as the Rams amassed 449 yards of total offense in a 37-19 loss on Sunday in the home opener at Lincoln Financial Field.

"We came up short today. We lost. Our goal was to stop the run. Our goal was to eliminate the boot game. We understood they would do a lot of misdirection, jet motions, screens, and we didn't execute to the best of our abilities today," safety Rodney McLeod said. "We have to own that right now. We consider ourselves a good run defense and a good overall defense, and today we failed to do that."

Quarterback Jared Goff completed his first 13 pass attempts, finishing 20-of-27 for 267 yards (a gaudy 9.9 yards per attempt) with three touchdowns, no interceptions, for a 142.1 QB rating. Tight end Tyler Higbee was on the receiving end of all three of those touchdown throws. Running back Darrell Henderson had 81 yards to lead a committee that churned out 191 yards (4.9 yards per carry) on the ground.

Last week, the Eagles were victimized defensively by short fields. Even though the Eagles allowed 27 points in the loss to Washington, they allowed just 2.2 yards per carry and the fewest total yards of any NFL team in Week 1.

That wasn't the case on Sunday.

After a Miles Sanders fumble on the opening drive, the Rams cashed in with a five-play, 41-yard march for a touchdown. The Rams added two consecutive 75-yard touchdown drives on the ensuing possessions to race out to a 21-3 lead. After the Eagles closed the gap to 21-16 at halftime, the Rams put the game away by scoring on three straight drives in the second half, including the final 13 points of the game.

"With all of the moving parts on offense with the jet sweeps and the different things that they do and the tosses, it's something we've obviously got to do a better job of," Head Coach Doug Pederson said. "We pride ourselves here in stopping the run and we didn't do a very good job today."

McLeod said that there were no surprises on Sunday. The Eagles practiced against everything that the Rams did. It just happened to be a snowball effect. Once the Rams were successful on one play, the Eagles were caught thinking about that play and getting the rug pulled out from underneath them.

"It's frustrating. The Rams, and what they do – they hit you with the stretch, and then they convert it with a boot, and then they run a screen. (It's an) unconventional style of offense I would say in this day and age and where we are, and we knew that coming in," McLeod said. "That was the task at hand and what we needed to do, myself included. A couple of plays you're playing the last play rather than playing the play at hand which you see right in front of you. We have to make sure moving forward, we just (have to) be present, focus on the play at hand, get the job done, and that will put us in a good position to win these games."

The disappointing aspect is that the Eagles have been outstanding in two areas with Jim Schwartz as the defensive coordinator – against the run and in the red zone.

The 189 rushing yards allowed were more than any regular-season game in 2019. And in two games, opposing teams are 7-of-9 in the red zone against the Eagles.

"We just have to get it done and I think we will – I know we will. And I'm not worried," defensive end Brandon Graham said. "I'm excited actually because when a lot of adversity hits, a lot of people definitely give up on you, but that's not this team. We're still going to fight and we still have a lot of greatness ahead of us. And we believe, and that's all that matters. We're going to make sure we get it right."

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