12 and 4.3 — Those are Carson Wentz and Jared Goff’s Week 1 depth of targets, respectively
No joke — on average, Wentz was attempting passes about three times as far down the field as Jared Goff was. Wentz’s mark was the highest in the league; Goff’s was the lowest.
Both marks tell you what each offense is trying to do as the 2020 season opens. Finally with some speed at wide receiver and with a renewed focus on play-action passes, the Eagles insisted on pushing the ball downfield even as their offensive line leaked in pass protection. The offense had a lot of success in the quick game early against Washington, but moved away from it later in the game, as Wentz became more scattershot.
Goff and the Rams were all about the quick-game layups. Against the aggressive Dallas offense, McVay regularly rolled Goff through play-action dropbacks to hit WR screens or quick flats off of his motion-heavy offense. Jared Goff struggled under pressure last year behind a reloaded offensive line — Goff was only pressured on 20% of his dropbacks last week, the sixth-lowest of all quarterbacks and down 16% from last year’s number.
Both teams will likely keep on the same tracks for this game. With an aggressive defensive line in Philadelphia, look for the Rams to do everything to get the ball out of Jared Goff’s hands — in their last meeting with the Eagles, Jim Schwartz blitzed Goff relentlessly to force his poor decisions under pressure. The Eagles will continue hunting big plays with their speedy WR corps, hoping to have improved protection mishaps from Week 1 against a less deep defensive line in Los Angeles. Efficiency against explosiveness for the 2016 top two picks that are both still looking to justify their big second contracts.
27 - That’s how many opening scoring drives the Rams have under Sean McVay
That number is second only to the Chiefs under Andy Reid, who have 28 scoring drives in a possible 48 regular season games — the Rams are also second only to the Chiefs in total first quarter scoring drives. With a Mahomes adjustment given to the Chiefs 2018 and 2019 numbers, you can make a strong argument that Sean McVay is the best opening script designer in the NFL — and that isn’t just withheld to the first quarter. On third-quarter drives that start within the first five minutes of the quarter, the Rams are fifth over McVay’s tenure, with 26. He’s great coming out of the locker room both ways, and that was evident last week, when the Rams’ only two touchdowns came on their opening drives of each half.
It’s been a while since the Eagles had to worry about the first quarter scoring issues of 2016 and again in 2018, but it is significant to note when it comes to game management and defensive game-planning. If you come out in the same defenses you’ve typically played against McVay’s Rams, you’re going to give up easy yardage early. Don’t be afraid to pitch changeups on the opening possession. The worst thing that can happen? You give up the seven points you were probably gonna give up anyway.
59% - That’s the percentage of offensive snaps rookie WR Jalen Reagor took for Philadelphia, the biggest number among all Eagles WRs
If you’re uncertain, that’s extremely low — and that’s not even the interesting part. The lowest number was 40%, for John Hightower. He took 27 snaps on offense, Reagor took 40, and everyone else was in between: DeSean Jackson with 37, Greg Ward with 30, and J.J. Arcega-Whiteside with 28. That’s five receivers with about as even of a distribution as you’ll find in the league.
What we take from that isn’t exactly clear. The target distribution was not even: DeSean Jackson and Greg Ward had seven apiece, Reagor and Hightower had 4 on each, and Arcega-Whiteside, significantly, had none. Reagor’s target distribution was all down the field; Hightower and Ward were used heavily on underneath and quick-breaking routes; DeSean was used on isolation routes.
The Eagles are clearly still trying to figure out their passing offense, and interestingly, how to integrate their WRs into the existing paradigm of their TEs, as both Dallas Goedert and Zach Ertz are high-volume target getters who affect multiple areas of the field. Perhaps the roles of the tight ends are what make their WR rotation so even early on in the season.
Is this a trend or a blip as things get ironed out? We won’t know for a bit. The Eagles WR room is far from solved, and predicting who gets what attention on any given week will likely haunt bettors and fantasy players for much of the fall.
An extra one: 2-0. That’s Doug Pederson’s record against 2017 COTY Sean McVay
In case you forgot.