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Los Angeles Rams versus Philadelphia Eagles: Film review shows the demise of Sean McVay is greatly over-exaggerated

Sosa takes a look at what happened on Sunday night, and why the Rams should be just fine moving forward.

Los Angeles Rams QB Jared Goff and HC Sean McVay against the Philadelphia Eagles, Dec. 16, 2018. Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

If you’ve been actively following any sports media, shows, or the internet over the past two weeks or so, you’ve probably heard a lot of people question whether the Los Angeles Rams and Head Coach Sean McVay are for real. Now, those questions are fair. The Rams haven’t played a clean offensive game since before their bye week against the Kansas City Chiefs, but there’s a reason for that, and it’s hardly what the media is telling you. Sure, teams are doing a better/good job scheming the Rams away from striking deep and creating massive chunk plays like they were early in the season, but there’s still plenty to be had.

The Chicago Bears performed a masterclass against the Rams’ offense, though many teams (29 defenses outside of the Bears, Baltimore Ravens, and maybe Dallas Cowboys) simply don’t have the same talent available to them.

The Rams lost consecutive games on Sunday Night Football to the Bears and Philadelphia Eagles, though the two weren’t exactly a pair of similar circumstances. The Bears stifled and suffocated everything the Rams tried to do. Nothing worked, it was turnovers galore. The Eagles did a solid job — and credit them because they came out with the win — but the Rams had plenty of chances to completely change the outcome of the game.

Let’s take a look at the film:

The most notable “bad play” of the game was probably the fiasco on 3rd-and-1 when QB Jared Goff went to execute a play-action fake and was stepped on by C John Sullivan. It caused Goff to fall, get up, try to throw the ball away, resulted in an interception and big return for the Eagles, and lead them to directly seven points on the next drive. Here’s the play:

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The Rams had TE Tyler Higbee running a delayed route where he faked a block on FS Malcolm Jenkins, then released into his route. It worked to perfection. The play would have went for a significant gain, potentially a touchdown, though a sure-fire extended drive.

These next two plays both came from the same drive. The first was on first down, and the second clip was on third down.

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This was another missed opportunity for the Rams’ offense. I’m not sure who this one necessarily falls on, because it seems more like a miscommunication than anything. Jared Goff wants to lead TE Gerald Everett towards the pylon on a back-shoulder throw, though Everett continues up field and had plenty of space between him and the nearest defender. Regardless, that’s seven points left on the field.

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This was the second play of the drive and this one can pretty comfortably be be attributed to a missed throw by Jared Goff. He’s got RB Todd Gurley up the seam wide open for a touchdown and simply overthrows him. Another drive stalled in the redzone, another seven points left on the board. The Rams had to settle for a field goal.

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This play came from earlier in the game, though it shows just how everyone on the offense chipped in with the disappointing performance. The Eagles’ defensive line ran a stunt, and RG Austin Blythe continues to block his defensive lineman instead of passing him over to John Sullivan and taking on the looping DT Fletcher Cox. The reason this play was big was because it was on third down, and had Jared Goff had the time to step up and deliver a throw, he had WR Josh Reynolds going up the seam with a window in the back of the endzone for a touchdown. It would have been tight, but the safety on the far-hash already took off to run with Robert Woods leaving a vacated gap. Regardless, seven more points left on the board, and another field goal.

This one might have been the worst of all. This is the punt return that JoJo Natson fumbled. He’s the red circle on the screen, and I took this still shot right as he fumbled the ball. Take a look at what’s ahead: nothing but green grass, a punter, and a blocker. Natson probably fumbled this ball (untouched by the way) because of the sheer excitement of knowing a touchdown was right before his eyes.

Absolute shame, because this would have tied the game at 30-30 with around three minutes remaining in the fourth. Another seven points left on the field.

Now let’s take a look at two plays that did work for the Rams:

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This run has been a staple for the Rams the entire year. Sean McVay needs to find a way to get Todd Gurley more involved on the ground game, because when the Rams are running the ball effectively, that’s when they’ve shown the ability to be unstoppable as an offense.

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Here’s another simple play showing the same stuff is still working for the Rams and McVay. This has been a staple in the offense as well, and has been a re-occurring play all season. Split-zone play action, and Goff zips a nice pass to WR Brandin Cooks on a deep hitch route.

Game Notes

  • Jared Goff needs to work on the fade route. He threw four fades to Josh Reynolds (three before half, one at the end of the game) and not a single one was catchable
  • The Coliseum field was slippery — counted at least five guys slipping
  • The offense hasn’t been completely stifled like some want you to believe. They may not be hitting deep shots like they used to, but that’s because defenses adjusted and would rather allow short gains and long drives
  • Sean McVay needs to run the ball more frequently
  • The defense is playing solid
  • This game was a case of great players making uncharacteristic mistakes
  • The offensive line has struggled as of late, they need to get back to being dominant because everything rides off them
  • Teams aren’t respecting the jet motion anymore, it might be time to start handing it off more
  • Need to be more efficient in the redzone, had two drives stall there

That’s all I’ve got for you this week, folks. Time to prepare for a divisional showdown with the Arizona Cardinals.