The Philadelphia Eagles and Los Angeles Rams are set to play each other this Sunday at Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum. In order to preview the Eagles’ Week 14 game against L.A., I reached out to our friends over at Turf Show Times. The wise Sean Wilkinson kindly took the time to answer my questions about the upcoming game. Let's take a look at the answers. (Also don't forget to check out my Q&A exchange over at TST.)
1) How have the Rams been able to turn things around so quickly after going 4-12 in 2016?
It all boils down to Sean McVay. For starters, he's a much, much better coach than Jeff Fisher and he surrounded himself with top talent on the coaching staff. Between John Fassel and Wade Phillips, the Rams have some of the best in the NFL on their coaching staff.
In addition to the coaching staff, the Rams had a tremendous offseason. Dumping Greg Robinson for Andrew Whitworth was the smartest thing the Rams could have done for Jared Goff. The Rams also brought in Robert Woods, Sammy Watkins, and Nickell Robey-Coleman. All of those moves have paid major dividends for the 2017 Rams. Cooper Kupp is just icing on that cake.
The culture that McVay has built in his first year is noticeably different than Fisher's Rams. They have more fight in them, more confidence, and are more prepared for game days. I'm not sure what the opposite of "7-9 bullshit" is, but whatever it is, that's what the Rams are right now.
2) I’m curious about the Rams’ fan base now that the team has been in L.A. for nearly two full seasons. Do people in St. Louis still care about them? How are the Rams being received in Los Angeles? After seeing how Eagles fans took over the Chargers’ stadium, are you concerned that’ll happen at the Coliseum as well?
While I don't claim it anymore because of military service, I was born and raised in the greater St. Louis area and as such I have a lot of friends and family still in that area. While I don't think the Rams have many die-hard fans in St. Louis anymore, the winning has brought many former die-hards back into the fray as casual/bandwagon fans.
As far as LA is concerned, the effects of last season are still being felt in attendance, but the community at large seems to be embracing the team. It surprised me that Rams fans weren't able to fill the Coliseum against the Saints, and honestly I'm looking forward to seeing the stadium full - even if it is 30-40% Eagles fans.
3) If you were responsible for drawing up the Rams’ game plan, how would you attack the Eagles? Then flip it around: how would you attack the Rams if you were the Eagles?
This one is easy, I'd have both sides focus on the Eagles running game. The Rams have struggled to stop the run at times this season, but when they have it really helps the play in the secondary. Especially with the Rams a bit beat up at corner, they are going to need the front 7 to step up and take some pressure off of them.
The Eagles have an amazing stable of backs. Legarrette Blount, Jay Ajayi, Corey Clement, and Kenjon Barner make for a formidable opponent. If the Eagles can get any of these guys on a roll, Carson Wentz is going to look like the MVP candidate that he is.
4) Jared Goff is playing well this season, but is there any level of regret about the Rams not drafting Carson Wentz at No. 1 overall in 2016? Is there room to question the decision or was Goff 100% the correct choice all the way?
There was a healthy debate in the pre-draft process last year, but most Rams fans were happy with the Goff pick. The Rams have had some luck with small school choices (Trumaine Johnson / Montana) but they have also swung big and missed (Brian Quick / Appalachian State). There was a sense that fans didn't want to gamble with the #1 Overall pick - especially after giving up so much to move up to that spot.
Goff had a rough start to his career, but it turns out that was more about Jeff Fisher than Jared Goff. If I had to go back and make the selection again today, I'd make the same decision.
5) Which one Eagles player would you steal if you could have them on the Rams? If you were FORCED to help Philly, which best Rams player (besides Aaron Donald) would you put on the Eagles?
Since you took the easy answer away, I'm going to go with Andrew Whitworth. You guys lost Jason Peters earlier this season and having a veteran LT does wonders for a young QB. He would elevate the play of your entire OL and hold players accountable. He's the quintessential veteran that can benefit any team.
Bonus: Who wins this game and why? Score prediction?
This is going to be a helluva game. I went 24-22 in favor of the Rams in our roundtable and I'm going to stick by that. This coaching staff is one of the most creative in the league and I think that may be the difference. I think the Eagles will have more scoring opportunities than the Rams, but I'm banking on them capitalizing on their opportunities and employing a 'bend but don't break' defense.
If the Rams can keep the Eagles kicking field goals instead of PATs, it's going to end well for them. If not, Jared Goff and Todd Gurley are going to be playing catchup all day. Either way, this is going to be fun to watch.