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What I’m watching for when Rams play the Eagles

4 more situations to monitor on Sunday

NFL: Dallas Cowboys at Los Angeles Rams Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports

It’s been a longer week than I expected as I await the results of the second game of the season. Because of this unusual quest from January to an actual football game, I hadn’t properly prepared for how much of a relief it was for NFL reality to finally hit. But I need the second dose.

One game is one game. A second and that’s when you’re actually getting to know the type of team and season and players ahead. To have those two reference points, it remains a sample size of miniature matter, but it is substantially more than one.

These are a handful of those reference points that I’m interested to get a second data point on this week against the Eagles.

How are the snaps and rushing attempts and passing attempts split in the backfield?

It’s probably the question that is being asked the most re: the Rams this week, which is how do Malcolm Brown, Darrell Henderson and Cam Akers share the backfield. Brown may be Sean McVay’s most trusted blocker and he’s the only option of the three with more than a teaspoon of game experience. Akers is who people expect to be the long-term answer but has the most to learn about the NFL and McVay’s playbook. Henderson sits somewhere in the middle, which is why he looks like a “bridge running back” to me.

If quarterbacks can do it, and Portland can do it, why not running backs?

Another new way we should start viewing the position is the concept of not just “running back by committee” but being more detailed than that and saying that each player in the group has a specialization. We do a disservice to ourselves to worry about “Who’s starting?” and “Who gets the most carries?” because that’s not really the way the position works anymore.

Maybe if fantasy managers started caring less about the 1s and 0s that make up their roster and instead started focusing on the 1s and 0s in the win-loss column!

Realistically, who is the right running back for the right situation? Without a player like Todd Gurley at McVay’s disposal, I’m sure this group will continue to share the snaps and it could be a rollercoaster trying to guess who comes in which order each week.

How many targets for Van Jefferson and Josh Reynolds?

The Eagles acquired a really good cornerback in the offseason and also Darius Slay. That means that Nickell Robey-Coleman could be working on Cooper Kupp, perhaps Slay covers Robert Woods and then maybe some opportunities open up for whichever receiver Jared Goff prefers third.

In Week 1, Jefferson got more targets (three to one) but Reynolds got more snaps (37 to 33) and there won’t be piped in jeers at SoFi Stadium in the future if the rookie becomes the unquestioned third option this season. This is the guy who people are excited to see more of and there would be nothing wrong with him needing a lot more time to get better at this level. But even in his first game, he looked good.

What’s Micah Kiser’s second career game on defense like?

Whether it is controversial to point out or not, Kiser was in fact credited with seven missed tackles in Week 1 and that is a lot. There are many linebackers of various experience levels and I’ve rarely heard of seven missed tackles.

However, Kiser was playing his first career snaps on defense, with a new defensive coordinator, and doing things (like blitzing four times) that he had never done before and that I had not imagined he’d be doing in Week 1. I do give seven missed tackles the benefit of the doubt.

And yet I also get to monitor how the next game goes and against an offense with two of the best receiving tight ends in the league right now and returning its starting running back, Kiser and the other linebackers will be tested against another formidable offense.

Does Leonard Floyd get pressure on Carson Wentz?

The Eagles quarterback was sacked eight times in Week 1, but the Rams have not spent four first round draft picks in the last two years on four pass rushers. They prefer to consolidate. Washington also has Ryan Kerrigan and Matt Ioannidis and a head coach whose last team was second in the NFL in sacks in 2019.

Los Angeles has the NFL’s best pass rusher but I don’t expect them to have as lively of a pass rush as Football Team. It’s the one thing that Football Team has. They don’t. Even. Have. A. Name.

But they have a hell of a pass rush.

Do the Rams have anyone to fear outside of Aaron Donald? In Week 1, Leonard Floyd and Michael Brockers also made their way to sacks, but Donald seemed to be the only player consistently creating pressure. This is backed up with four pressures for Donald and five for the rest of the defense combined. Floyd may not have been brought in to replace Dante Fowler’s production as a pass rusher, but flashes of the player he was drafted to be were evident. Could Brandon Staley get more out of him than what the Bears were able to, including when he was coaching him in Chicago?