The Philadelphia Eagles host the St. Louis Rams on Sunday, with the 3-1 Eagles looking to bounce back from their first loss of the season, and the 1-2 Rams looking fresh off of a bye week. We took some time to chat with Joe McAtee from Turf Show Times this week. On Wednesday, we discussed which Rams player the Eagles would take and which Eagles player the Rams would take. Joe and I then exchanged five questions on Thursday: here's the BGN version and here's the TST version. Joe was even nice enough to join us on BGN Radio.
Today, we're back with reasons why each team might lose. This format forces us to consider each own team's weaknesses, rather than just think of why each team is awesome.
Here's why the Rams will lose, via Joe. Check out Turf Show Times to see why I think the Eagles will lose.
The Rams have gone from inept, to technical to explosive on offense in three games. That's not the kind of output that lends itself to accurate predictions. Throw in a possible return of Tavon Austin into the fold, and I have no idea what the Rams' offense is going to do. I'm worried about what they haven't done though.
They haven't gotten Zac Stacy going, keeping him under 20 carries in each of their first three games in 2014 after averaging more than 20 carries per game in 12 games once he was appointed the starting RB last year. They haven't put together a passing game that provides points without giving them away; the Rams threw a pair of interceptions in week one and three and picked up all three 2014 passing touchdowns in the loss against the Cowboys. They haven't played penalty-free football, with the fifth highest penalties per game average in the league and sporting the worst net penalty yardage in the NFL in just three games. For an offense that has struggled for years to move the ball with aplomb, penalties are often too difficult for the Rams' O to overcome.
If there's a more troubling aspect of the Rams, it's on this side of the ball where fans had serious expectations of success. Few were looking to the offense to carry the team after years of ineptitude; the Rams have finished in the bottom half of the league in offensive yards and scoring since 2007. The defensive side on the other hand featured in the top half of the league in points and yards allowed in each of the last two years. So it's extremely worrisome to see the Rams third to last in points allowed per game and rushing yards allowed per. There's no sign that's changing soon.
Even when the Rams were prepared for the pass, they couldn't succeed against the Cowboys in week three. Whether they blitzed, dropped heavily into coverage or played a balanced shell between those two options, it didn't work. And while they finished with the best defense of DeMarco Murray to date in 2014, he and Tony Romo combined to lead a comeback over the Rams who held a 21-0 lead early in the game. It's almost inexplicable to have those kinds of struggles with the personnel the Rams have on defense. And that's what worries me the most.
Whether it's first-year Rams Defensive Coordinator Gregg Williams or Head Coach Jeff Fisher or just poor execution and a lack of defensive solidarity, the Rams defense has failed miserably in two of their first three games. Minnesota put up 34 against us in week one; in three of their four games following, they've been held to 10 points or less. And while the hope is that at season's end Rams fans can perhaps point to week one as the worst defensive performance of the year, there are 13 more opportunities for things to cave they way they did in the season opener. And right now, there are too many signs that it's going to happen again.