The Los Angeles Rams lost to the Philadelphia Eagles at SoFi Stadium on Sunday afternoon. Jalen Hurts kept the chains moving to take down LA 23-14. The Rams will fall to 2-3 on the still young season.
Losing a game to a team that was just in the Super Bowl this calendar year is not an outcome that you should feel too bad about; however, Sean McVay’s offense continues to struggle in the second half—they’ve been outscored in the final two quarters each of the last four weeks.
We can try to assign individual blame for this repeated issue, but ultimately it takes all 11 on offense to to get the team moving in the right direction. Who stood out in a positive or negative way against the Eagles?
Cooper Kupp, WR
It was quite the return for star receiver Cooper Kupp, who was heavily involved early and finished the game with 8 catches on 12 targets for 118 yards. He had a deep reception that went for 39 yards, his longest of the day.
Kupp helped convert multiple third downs—which we’ve come to expect from him in recent years—and formed a dangerous trio with blooming young receivers Puka Nacua and Tutu Atwell. No one could cover Kupp on Sunday, except his own quarterback who missed him on several potentially big plays.
Ahkello Witherspoon, CB
Witherspoon has played a role in all three of LA’s defensive turnovers this season (read: they haven’t created near enough takeaways). While Derion Kendrick often struggled with AJ Brown, Witherspoon often saw DeVonta Smith and had a relatively quiet afternoon on his side.
The Rams found quiet the late free agent bargain in Witherspoon, and with the way he’s playing he may be worth keeping around beyond 2023.
Make it a toe-tap interception in the endzone for Ahkello Witherspoon. Impressive control and balance to make the play. pic.twitter.com/pGE5ChxSd1— Stu Jackson (@StuJRams) October 8, 2023
Ernest Jones, MLB
Raheem Morris used Jones often as an interior blitzer and the linebacker had some success, but overall LA’s pass rush just wasn’t good enough on Sunday. Even with an increased frequency in sending extra defenders after the quarterback, Hurts had plenty of time to throw or scramble for positive gains.
There wasn’t much working on the defensive side of the ball for LA, but Jones’ three tackles for loss was not one of those things. He also led the team with 15 total tackles.
Russ Yeast, DB
Yeast stuck out as one of the more physical players on defense and played an important role in run support and eliminating yards after the catch. The second-year safety finished with six total tackles.
Ethan Evans, P
It’s never really a good sign when the punter stands out in a positive way, but Evans was fine against Philadelphia and proved he was worth a seventh-round investment by the Rams.
Evans punted four times for 215 net yards (average of 53.75) with a gross long of 65 yards. Two punts finished inside the 20-yard line.
Derion Kendrick, CB
Stop me if you’ve heard this before:
Kendrick draws a penalty in coverage in the end zone to give the opposing offense the ball on the one-yard line just before half time. The offense punches the ball in for a touchdown to either tie the game or take the lead.
That happened Week 2 against the 49ers and it happened again versus the Eagles. The Philadelphia offense had the ball with just over 30 seconds on the clock, and Kendrick allowed a long completion to receiver AJ Brown. He compounded the reception with a 15-yard personal foul on a horse collar tackle, and then was called for pass interference in the end zone. The Eagles ran their “brotherly shove” play and scored a touchdown to take a three-point half time lead.
Derion Kendrick literally gave up like a 35 yard catch and then had two penalties for like another 30 yards to put Philly on the 1.— Sosa Kremenjas (@QBsMVP) October 8, 2023
You can't even make it up.
As mentioned earlier, the Rams often sent extra defenders after the quarterback with the intent to create pressure but Hurts still had ample time in the pocket. Whenever that happens, there will be holes in the secondary and the Eagles really had no issues moving the chains and extending drives.
Byron Young stood out at times for his ability to chase Hurts late in scrambles, but other than that no one along the defensive line really established themselves on a consistent basis.
Raheem Morris, Defensive coordinator
I personally don’t mind dropping OLB Michael Hoecht into coverage as a tendency breaker from time to time; however, for the second time in two weeks, the pass rush has failed to hit home and Hoecht has been exposed down field for big gains. Last week this resulted in a long touchdown for the Indianapolis Colts when Anthony Richardson found Mo Alie-Cox one-on-one with Hoecht. This week Hurts stood in the pocket and found Dallas Goedert running away from the former interior defensive lineman.
Now, this all wouldn’t be an issue if the pass rush disrupted the quarterback and timing of the offense. The intent is that Hoecht should be covering shorter routes and affecting the timing of the quick passing game. Still, the approach has hurt the defense majorly in the last two weeks.
Dallas Goedert now has over 100 receiving yards— Eagles Nation (@PHLEaglesNation) October 8, 2023
Sean McVay, Head coach
McVay punted late against the Cincinnati Bengals a couple of weeks when the game was within two possessions. Trey Hendrickson was dominating the backup left tackle and Stafford was taking hit after hit. It seemed like the head coach was waiving the white flag.
But then down six points with ten minutes to play, McVay again decided to punt on fourth-and-five despite going for it being the better analytical decision. The Eagles quickly marched down the field and kicked a field goal to extend their lead to two possessions.
After watching the Eagles offense move the chains with ease, I hated this decision at the time and effectively it was the end of the game.
---> PHI (20) @ LA (14) <---— 4th down decision bot (@ben_bot_baldwin) October 8, 2023
LA has 4th & 5 at the LAR 42, Q4 09:55
Recommendation (STRONG): Go for it (+2.7 WP)
Actual play: E.Evans punts 53 yards to PHI 5, Center-A.Ward. B.Covey to PHI 20 for 15 yards (B.Skowronek). pic.twitter.com/gR0XCXtxUc
Matthew Stafford, QB
Stafford completed 21 of 37 passes (57%) for 222 yards and two touchdowns. He was sacked four times with no turnovers.
At the opening I mentioned how the Rams have been outscored in the second half of each of their last four games, or four of fives games on the young season depending on how you want to look at it. I’m not sure which individual deserves the most blame for the continued anemic performances in the second half, but realistically it takes all 11. Still, I think it’s an execution issue and the Rams need Matthew Stafford—who ranks in the lower third of the NFL in completion percentage (adjusted and unadjusted)—to be more consistent.
Offense has 18 plays for 61 yards in the second half. That's 3.3 yards per play.— Blaine Grisak (@bgrisakTST) October 8, 2023
Defense has done enough to keep them in the game and given them several opportunities to take control. Again...ZERO second half points.
While Stafford’s highs are fun to watch (he led the NFL in big-time-throws coming into this game), it often feels like he’s leaving a lot of meat on the bone with erratic throws on early downs. In other words, being more consistent and accurate on first and second down will help prevent third down scenarios where you need your quarterback to be superhuman.
- Week 2, vs. 49ers: outscored 13-6
- Week 3, at Bengals: outscored 13-10*
- Week 4, at Colts: outscored 23-3 in regulation
- Week 5, vs. Eagles: outscored 6-0
*Tutu Atwell had garbage time receiving TD from Stafford with a minute left on the clock in a two-possession game.
In total the Rams have been outscored 55-19 in the second half over the last four games. That’s not a recipe for success and it seems to be more of an offensive issue than defensive.
Last 5 Rams plays in Eagles territory:— TurfShowTimes (@TurfShowTimes) October 8, 2023
4 incomplete passes, intentional grounding penalty on Rams, one completion that led to a fumble and 9-yard loss