The Los Angeles Rams and Philadelphia Eagles could end up competing for the same wild card berth in December. This is not to say that either team couldn’t compete for their own division crown, arguments for the Rams or Eagles to win the West or East may be equally valid, but as a pair of 9-7 teams in the NFC last season, it’s natural to envision them competing against one another.
As they will do this Sunday at 10 a.m. in Philadelphia.
The Eagles and Rams share many similarities but we haven’t seen “Jared Goff vs Carson Wentz” since 2018. To get a better idea of how Philadelphia has changed since then — and since last week’s challenging 27-17 loss to the Washington Football Team — I sent 5 Qs to Brandon Lee Gowten of Bleeding Green Nation. In kind, he sent me 5 corresponding As.
My 5 answers for Brandon can be read here at BGN.
Q - If you could describe what happened against Washington as a weather event, what event would that be and why? Yes, volcanoes and earthquakes qualify as weather.
A - Does an avalanche count?
The view was pretty as the Eagles were climbing to an early lead. Then things suddenly came crashing down in a major way while people were getting hurt.
There was no real good reason for the Eagles to lose that game. They were up by 17 points on a nameless team that finished 3-13 last year. They were playing a bad quarterback in Dwayne Haskins. History tells us the defense was doing their part. Unfortunately, Carson Wentz wasn’t.
Washington averaged 3.4 yards per play on offense and beat the Eagles by 10.— Paul Hembekides (@PaulHembo) September 14, 2020
In 2019, teams to average fewer than 3.5 yards per play went 0-18 (average loss by 20 points).
That's how bad Carson Wentz was.
Sunday’s loss wasn’t about just one bad game. The performance raised serious concerns about this team’s outlook in 2020. And now the team must already dig themselves out from under the mess that buried them.
Q - If Carson Wentz went around town telling everybody he was the best quarterback in the 2016 NFL Draft, and he were to eventually stumble upon you, Brandon Lee Gowton, and implored you to agree with him on this matter even though you said you were sick of comparing Goff and Wentz (and Dak Prescott) and that “best” is such a relative and ambiguous term that doesn’t matter or hold significance with the future ... what would you say to him regarding those comparisons now?
A - Carson, this is a Wendy’s.
But seriously, I don’t disagree. You’ve demonstrated the highest ceiling from that main trio. Unlike the other two dudes, you can say that you set up your team for a Super Bowl victory. And that’s kind of the point of this all, right?
You’ve also had to deal with worst supporting casts than they have. I mean, you easily had the NFL’s worst wide receiving corps in 2016 and 2019. You had the NFL’s worst backfield in 2018.
But you’re far from perfect, Carson. Week 1 was a reminder of as much. You too often refuse to play smart and instead resort to playing reckless hero ball. Your accuracy is a real problem as well. You led the NFL in poor throws (as deemed by Pro Football Reference) with 13. And it wasn’t like that was because your offensive line wasn’t good enough. There were plenty of snaps where you had clean pockets and you threw way too wide, high, or behind your intended recipients.
Carson Wentz is hurting his team. Point blank-hes hurting the team. Only reason Wash is in game is Wentz— Dan Orlovsky (@danorlovsky7) September 13, 2020
You have the potential to be great and end all debate about who’s the best. But you’ve got to stop being so stubborn and reign it in, champ. You need to accept a quarterback coach who is able to challenge you — like John DeFilippo did — and isn’t just going to be your buddy and tell you what you want to hear.
Q - Last week the Rams played against the Dallas Cowboys but this week they are playing against the Dallas Goedert. In his last four games, Goedert has been targeted 39 times and caught 28 passes for 330 yards and two touchdowns. Should Philadelphia “outsiders” like myself be prepared for a switch-over from Zach Ertz to Goedert as the number one tight end?
A - Goedert clearly outperformed Ertz in Week 1 but I’m not ready to say the former is ready to overtake the latter just yet. Ertz has been the Eagles’ leading receiver in every season since Wentz first arrived in Philly; the quarterback loves his trusty tight end. Ertz led all Eagles skill players in snaps against the Football Team and he’s motivated to produce as he’s made it clear he wants a new contract.
Dallas Goedert receiving in Week 1:— PFF Fantasy Football (@PFF_Fantasy) September 14, 2020
101 receiving yards
28 yards after contact
3 catches of 15+ yards
3 missed tackles forced
All most among TEs pic.twitter.com/Co3DRNhmdL
The Eagles utilized 12 personnel more than any other team in 2019 and they’re bound to do that again this year. Both Ertz and Goedert will get ample playing time, just like they did this past Sunday. Ertz is more of the route-running savant who just knows how to get open and move the chains while Goedert is a more explosive and dynamic threat.
Q - This is sort of a two-part, two-game question: in the matchup between left tackle Jason Peters and Washington’s Chase Young, the number two pick in the draft, how did both players look? Peters has had a turbulent offseason and it was Young’s first career game and it is only Week 1, but what was your takeaway with each player?
A - It’s strange because Peters looked like a 38.5-year-old left tackle who spent most of training camp lining up at a new position (right guard) before demanding a raise to go back to his old one. Or, well, not strange at all because that’s exactly what happened.
In Week 1, Peters sure looked like a player who has lost a step. He certainly wasn’t chasing youth (dumb shoehorned Chase Young pun that made no sense). Pro Football Focus had Peters as their fifth best graded tackle in 2019 but he ranks 50th out of 67 tackles after Week 1.
Chase Young spins inside off a chip block, goes high on Carson Wentz but grabs his ankle, turns 180 degrees and jumps up from one knee to finish off the sack WHILE punching the ball out for a fumble.— Nicki Jhabvala (@NickiJhabvala) September 14, 2020
There are definitely worse options than having a future Hall of Famer start a left tackle. He’s probably going to settle in and turn in some good performances. But rough patches are also to be expected. And maybe even more now that he’s dealing with a knee injury that kept him limited in Wednesday’s practice. It should also be noted that Peters has only played 100% of the Eagles’ offensive snaps in 18 of their last 55 games. Ergo, durability is a big concern.
Young, meanwhile, is truly a monster. PFF had him graded out as their fifth best edge defender from Week 1. He helped to shut down the Eagles’ running game and he almost made a big play early in the game by strip-sacking Wentz. The quarterback was fortunate that Jason Kelce recovered the ball on that play. Young will definitely challenge Andrew Whitworth when the Rams face the Football Team.
Q - I think it would take an expert to list out the Eagles who are expected to be on the injury report this week .. and you are an Eagles expert! Which key players can we expect to not see and maybe-not-see?
A - Miles Sanders, Lane Johnson, and Derek Barnett are all on track to return on Sunday after missing Week 1.
Getting Sanders and Johnson back is huge for the offense. Sanders showed star potential down the stretch in 2019. He’s a weapon as both a runner and receiver and his pass protection skills could help to better keep Wentz upright. Johnson is arguably the best right tackle in the NFL so his return should help stabilize Philly’s offensive line to some extent.
Barnett’s return is welcomed with Vinny Curry suffering a hamstring injury that caused the Eagles to place him on IR. Barnett, Brandon Graham (expected to be cleared from a concussion), Josh Sweat, and Genard Avery will all see playing time in the Eagles’ pass rush rotation. Sweat was quietly very good against Washington so he’s an under-the-radar player to watch out for.
Javon Hargrave was limited in practice on Wednesday. Not fully counting on him to be back but his return would strengthen the Eagles’ defensive line. Peter was also limited but I expect him to still start at left tackle. If he has to leave early, which is entirely possible, the Eagles might have to rely on thrusting Jordan Mailata into action once again. Mailata seemed to handle himself at right tackle in Week 1 but the former rugby leaguer player is wildly inexperienced.
Alshon Jeffery is poised to miss Sunday’s game as he reportedly won’t be until October at the earliest. The Eagles will utilize DeSean Jackson (who was on a pitch count in Week 1 but is expected to have a bigger role in Week 2), Jalen Reagor, and Greg Ward as their primary wide receivers. Rookie John Hightower, who really struggled agains the Football Team, and J.J. Arcega-Whiteside also figure to see playing time.
In addition to Curry, the Eagles had to place special teams co-captain Craig James on IR. So that hurt that unit in addition to Philly’s cornerback depth. They only have four healthy corners on the 53: Darius Slay, Avonte Maddox, Nickell Robey-Coleman (you may have heard of him), and Cre’Von LeBlanc. They could look to call up veteran practice squad member Trevor Williams to the 55-man roster for Sunday.
#Eagles Wednesday Injury Report— The Birds Blitz (@TheBirdsBlitz) September 16, 2020
✅ Miles Sanders, Lane Johnson, Derek Barnett are FULL participants
Javon Hargrave and Jason Peters are limited
Fletcher Cox and DeSean Jackson rest
Brandon Graham remains in concussion protocol
❌ Alshon Jeffery DNP https://t.co/ZL8spIIIbu
Starting Pro Bowl right guard Brandon Brooks is on the PUP list but isn’t expected to be able to return until very late in the season, if at all. He suffered an Achilles injury back in June, which really sucks.
The Eagles are missing their original projected Week 1 starting left tackle and 2019 first-round pick Andre Dillard. He suffered a season-ending injury in training camp.
Will Parks is a quasi-starter who landed on injured reserve due to suffering an injury late in camp. He’s expected to be back in October at some point. He would’ve been playing as the Eagles’ big nickel packages and such. Also provided safety depth behind starters Jalen Mills and Rodney McLeod.
And … I think that’s it?
Meanwhile, I see the Rams have, like, no injuries. Must be nice!
Previewing Eagles with Jonathan Harris: