The best part? They didn’t even do anything special or particular to throw the Philly offense off it’s game. They showed up aggressive and made the plays when it counted, forced the Eagles out of their comfort-zone, and took advantage of nearly every opportunity presented to them.
The question is, can the Los Angeles Rams defense execute the same fundamentals and keep a tight grip on the Eagles offense, too?
Let’s touch on the running game
RB Jay Ajayi has the athletic ability to get more thanks to his athleticism. He’s able to weave his way through defenders to get more yards.
Even at ground zero of a play, Ajayi is able to make defenders miss with a cut. On this play, the guard is trying to use DE Michael Bennett’s momentum against him and Bennett nearly has the running back in his grasp. But Ajayi has the cut to evade his grasp and keep the play going, avoiding the loss-of-yards.
But the Seahawks were able to keep a lit on Ajayi most of the night, even getting him behind the line.
Since Oct. 12, RB LaGarrette Blount only has one game where he’s rushed for more than 60-yards, and that came against the Chicago Bears. Before that game, Blount’s been averaging about 3.6 yards-per-carry. Against Seattle, Blount was held under 30-yards.
The Eagles passing attack
Obviously, this is the focus of the Rams defense. Throughout the season, Wentz and the offense have lit up the scoreboards, recording at least 20 points-per-game in every game before last Sunday.
The Rams defense will face their toughest test on Sunday afternoon. The Philly offense can cause of a lot of misdirection, which leads safeties and linebackers to follow one receiver, while another one is open underneath for the solid gain.
This is nothing new, as the crossing-picks have been used by every team all season. But they work. It’s an easy play for a few yards. Philly used this play a few times against Seattle and they will be doing it against Los Angeles.
Another that works well is one that opens a giant lane across the middle of the field for the slot receiver or tight end to get the pass. It starts out keeping one corner preoccupied with a receiver running a screen, then sends another receiver down the field to take the safeties out of the lane. Then, Wentz hits the receiver for the big gain.
In fact, Wentz could have gone to his right, as the Z-receiver (bottom of the screen) for the big gain, too.
Dual-Threat in Wentz
QB Jared Goff and Wentz are having nearly identical seasons, both statistically and in their overall success. Both are completing a lot of passes, both are throwing for a lot of touchdowns, and both are keeping the ball out of the hands of the defense.
But Wentz is the better quarterback, simply because he brings more to the table.
Goff sits in the pocket and can pick up a solid chunk of yards every now and then. Wentz can move the chains with his arm and feet consistently. With Wentz, defenses have to be on their toes for 60 minutes.
Wentz does a fairly good job of recognizing when he needs to bail out of the pocket. The Seahawks came at him all night on their pass-rush. Despite forcing him out of the pocket, more often than not, Wentz adapted and made the throws needed to keep the drive alive.
Wentz is not impossible to hit or take down. The Seahawks managed to sack Wentz three times, and did so with defensive backs on the blitz. But blitzing Wentz has consequences. He’s faced more than 170 times this season, and he’s been able to throw 12 touchdowns and zero interceptions.
But Seattle kept Wentz under pressure for most of the night. According to Pro Football Focus, the Seahawks kept Wentz under pressure for 58 percent of his dropbacks.
The Rams defense has a tall order on Sunday. They have to both rush the quarterback and keep outside-contain, which may not be possible based on what we have seen this past season.
OLB Robert Quinn is not a balanced pass-rusher. He is on one path to the quarterback, and when he’s taken out of the play, he stays out.