Bring On The Rams

Posted: September 9th, 2011 | Author: | Filed under: Philadelphia Eagles | 53 Comments »

I wrote a game preview for Here’s the link.

Since this is the season opener it is hard to get in-depth. Who’s hot? Who’s not? There are no major injuries for each team. That type of stuff. Next week we’ll talk about the upcoming game all week long. We’ll have a lot more story lines to deal with since we’ll have a game in the books for each team.

Here’s a bit more on the Rams:

Rams depth chart

Rams at

Rams at

Went 4-0 in the preseason.
Went 7-9 last year. Best win was over the Chargers (20-17).

Top draft picks: DE Robert Quinn, TE Lance Kendricks, WR Austin Pettis
Top FA signings: OG Harvey Dahl, WR Mike Sims-Walker, RB Cadillac Williams, RB Jerious Norwood, SS Quintin Mikell, LB Ben Leber

Offense: Josh McDaniels is the OC. Expect power running mixed in with spread sets. Think Pats from 2004-06.
Defense: 4-3. Lots of blitzing. Blitzes are designed to occupy blockers so that DL come free and can get to the QB.

More on the game:

PHI offense vs STL defense: Key here is clear – protect Vick. I don’t mean he can’t be sacked. Aaron Rodgers went down twice and took a handful of hits on other plays. But…the Packers kept him clean often enough that he could go 27-35-319 with 3 TDs. Vick can take some hits, but needs enough time to get the ball downfield to our guys. Andy/Marty know how to design a gameplan based on protection. We had no Jason Peters vs ATL and John Abraham was totally shut down.

Rams have 3 new players in the back seven (OLBs and SS). They are smart veterans, but not fast players. It will be interesting to see if that is the area we attack.

STL offense vs PHI defense: The Rams have the makings of a good ball control offense. That means 3rd downs will be critical. Don’t let them extend drives. Obviously we must control their run game. Don’t expect us to shut it down. We’ve got a lot of new faces. I’m sure we’ll get gashed a couple of times. The key is to limit big plays and come up big on 3rd downs. If the Rams have to move 4 and 5 yards at a time, that puts tremendous pressure on their offense.

The other huge aspect of stopping them is Red Zone defense. If they do march down the field, we need to hold them to FGs. I can’t see the Rams scoring a lot of points. Last year they had just 3 games with more than 21 points. I do think Sam Bradford and the offense will be better, but I expect our new secondary to really limit big plays. I also think our DL should win the matchup with their OL. I especially like Jason Babin over Jason Smith. Inside pressure will be very important in this game. I’m sure McDaniels will want Bradford getting the ball out quickly. That’s hard to do if Cullen Jenkins is in his face.

I think Casey Matthews will be good enough, but there will be ups and downs. As long as his mistakes don’t come in the Red Zone, we should be okay.

Special Teams: Field position will be important in this game. We want STL to have a long field to drive. Ball control teams struggle when they have to start at the 20. Alex Henery benefits from his first game as our PK being in a dome. I hope Dion Lewis gets a KOR, but I have my doubts as to whether he will.

* * * * *

I’ve saved a few misc nuggets on the game for Saturday’s post.

* * * * *

Last year I got all over Mike Shanahan for his idiotic decision to bring in Jim Haslett and the 3-4 defense.  Why bring in a new guy with a new system and scrap everything already in place?  The Eagles did that same thing with Howard Mudd and the O-line.  A few people are asking if the change was wise.  Why go with a new system and force a bunch of personnel changes?

First thing to point out is the significant difference in the WAS/PHI situations.  The Skins had one of the better defenses in the league.  They had key personnel in place.  There was no reason to change.

The Eagles O-line last year struggled.  The only players who absolutely deserved to remain as starters were Todd and Jason.  Well, those guys are good enough to play in any system.  If the right coach was available, making a change was okay.  Howard Mudd was the best coach on the market, so we went and got him.  Reid did talk to some other guys (Mike Munchak for instance).  Hard to say if they’d have also changed the blocking system and wanted a bunch of new players.

Howard has a clear vision of who and what he wants.  It bothers some people to see him ignoring our veteran players.  Mike McGlynn was a non-factor from day one.  Jamaal Jackson had a major uphill battle to get any playing time.  These guys just don’t fit Mudd’s system.  I’d rather have a decisive coach who knew what he wanted than someone who tried to make it work, only to find out it couldn’t and a mid-season change was needed.

We’ll get an idea on Sunday of whether hiring Mudd and making the changes was the best plan or not.  Personally, I’m stoked about the new OL.  I never liked having all the huge dudes come here to pass block.  I’d rather have smaller guys that are grinders and will play with an edge.

* * * * *

Couple of great vids from  Film breakdowns by Greg Cosell / Adam Caplan (football’s Siskel and Ebert?):

Casey Matthews

Jason Kelce

* * * * *

Shameless self promotion.  Don’t forget to vote for me in the Philly’s Best Blogger contest.  There is a button I’ve put up on the right hand side of the page, about halfway down in the sidebar area.  As they say in Chicago, vote early & vote often.


53 Comments on “Bring On The Rams”

  1. 1 FinnEagle said at 10:15 AM on September 9th, 2011:

    I tried to vote but I cannot find you on the list. Also Bleeding green nation is called Bleending green nation 🙂

    The key for the game on defence for me is the first and second downs. If we can get them to third and six or longer, they will be in trouble.

    I also think that Peanut will have a monster day. Rams just don`t have the speed.

  2. 2 FinnEagle said at 10:17 AM on September 9th, 2011:

    Nevermind, found it…

  3. 3 LT said at 10:20 AM on September 9th, 2011:

    Well, in terms of whether it was smart to bring in a guy like Mudd and do a whole o-line revamp, I would argue that this is the style of o-line play they should have adopted years ago.

    I never understood why they went the Castillo Big Ugly route when they would almost never pound the rock. I can’t figure out if I should blame Big Red for this, or Castillo, for not going to a style of play that fit the offense.

  4. 4 Andy said at 10:23 AM on September 9th, 2011:

    They also signed Disco Stew…

  5. 5 cvd said at 10:26 AM on September 9th, 2011:

    This is not sarcastic, I’m just trying to c others point of view. Why r so many people in philly dying for Reid to run the ball a lot more? I would like to c him run just slightly more. But others seem to want him to run a lot more and Chang his philosphy

  6. 6 cvd said at 10:31 AM on September 9th, 2011:

    The way I c it is the whole point of offence is to score points. It doesn’t matter how. What I do like is when we rub we run efficiently. So would some rather have the jets or Baltimore offence? I would think those teams would love our O. The on Thing I would like to improve is our run in the RZ.

  7. 7 JimmyK said at 10:40 AM on September 9th, 2011:

    I look at this Rams team, and I just don’t see anything that really scares me in the slightest. Not on offense. Not on defense. To me, it’s still a team that’s going in the right direction, but is still in the back third of the league, talent-wise. We had a little invasion of some suddenly very confident Rams fans, and they seem to be pretty high on their second round pick, TE Lance Kendricks. I don’t know squadoosh about him. Any thoughts, Tommy?

    @Andy – Cards signed Disco Stew, not the Rammies.

  8. 8 rage114 said at 11:02 AM on September 9th, 2011:

    Just my 2 cents…

    I found the Kelce video to be informative but I thought the Matthews video to be less than spectacular.

    They took one play where he didn’t take on any blocks (something to harp on that LB need to do in the NFL) and concluded that he improved.

    Maybe but one play? Show me a play in the Pittsburg game where he didn’t read the play correctly and show me a similar play in the Cleveland game where he did, proving that there is improvement.

  9. 9 FRAN35 said at 11:06 AM on September 9th, 2011:

    Great article and preview, as usual.

    I agree with CVD regarding all of these fans crying out for Reid to run the ball more. Our defense was built to play with a lead and defend the pass. While running the ball would protect the O line and Vick in the opening few games, it would put our LBs up against the full brunt of power running games, most likely the whole game long. I think we need to strike quickly and try to put a cushion up between us and the Rams so as to limit the run game of theirs.

  10. 10 Tommy Lawlor said at 11:09 AM on September 9th, 2011:

    @ Jimmy…

    Rams don’t scare you. They lack those kind of players. That said, if they learn to be a good ball control team, they could be scary in that way. Bradford is a huge factor.

    Opening on the road isn’t ideal.

    Kendricks was a good TE for Wisconsin. I liked him, but thought he was a major reach in the 2nd. Good receiver. Good athlete, but not special in either area. He’s reportedly had a real good summer. McDaniels knows how to use a pass catching TE. Kendricks will be interesting matchup. Chaney will be on him a lot.

  11. 11 ppk said at 11:10 AM on September 9th, 2011:


    I agree, the team is not scary. Spags, though, knows us well and is a good coach. He’s worth taking into account, like Scooby-Doo scary.

  12. 12 iskar36 said at 11:58 AM on September 9th, 2011:

    @Tommy (or anyone who might know)

    I might be ruining one of your nuggets, but how have the Eagles played against teams coached by former Eagles coaches/coordinators that served under AR? I don’t know that we have played a ton of games like that, but it would be interesting to find out still.

  13. 13 Jason-E said at 12:12 PM on September 9th, 2011:

    Like Jimmy, I just can’t find one thing about the rams that scares me.

    Yet, for some reason, I’m nervous as hell.

  14. 14 nicolajNN said at 1:09 PM on September 9th, 2011:


    Likely do to the fact that it’s week one. No one really knows what to expect or how good we really are

  15. 15 MikeD said at 1:31 PM on September 9th, 2011:

    Sam Bradford is scary. The kid put that team on his back last year with Freddie Mitchell and Todd Pinkston (basically) as his wideouts and barely missed the playoffs. Chris Long is also scary but mostly because he wears that little helmet and pounds the crap out of quaterbacks.

    Also the Eagles luck is not the early season kind. Although the first game got us to Vickland, it was not fun to watch until the end. It seems like they don’t do well week 1 but I may just be thinking about the last two openers against the Packers.

    Game’s on Fox5 in NY, lets go BIRDS!!

  16. 16 Sam said at 1:33 PM on September 9th, 2011:


    Reid went 2-0 against Chilly’s Vikings (including one playoff win), 0-1 against Harbaugh’s Ravens (the McNabb sit-down game) and 0-1 against Frazier’s Vikings (the Tuesday night debacle last year). So overall, 2-2.

    If you add in coordinators who are former Reid assistants, that goes to 5-7. including two playoff wins (Vikings and Spags’ Giants) and an end-of-season play-all-the-subs loss (2004 vs. Frazier’s Bengals).

  17. 17 Tommy Lawlor said at 1:47 PM on September 9th, 2011:

    I think the Eagles D is going to get off to a good start. The Rams can run the ball, but I think we’ll contain it well enough.

    I really like Jason (Babin) vs Jason (Smith). I think that matchup could be huge for us.

    I’m more worried about the offense. I expect them to be good, but the sluggish preseason does have me a bit nervous. I’ll feel much better when I see us score a TD or 2. Or 3. Or 4.

  18. 18 iskar36 said at 2:02 PM on September 9th, 2011:


    Technically you are right that they “barely missed the playoffs,” but let’s not make that out to be more than it is. They barely missed the playoffs by default because the NFC West has to send one team to the playoffs. On top of that, they were a 7-9 team with wins over the Redskins (6-10), Seahawks (7-9), Chargers (9-7), Panthers (2-14), Broncos (4-12), Cardinals (5-11), and 49ers (6-10). So they only beat one team with a winning record at the end of the season in the Chargers, and in total, the teams they beat had a combined record of 39-73.

    I can see the Rams having a better year, but seriously, Eagles only lose this game if they beat themselves. If the Eaglse deserve to be in the conversation about possible superbowl contenders, this is absolutely a game they should win.

  19. 19 Kevin (RC) said at 2:21 PM on September 9th, 2011:

    Are the Rams even a good blitzing team? From what I’ve watched in the pre-season (fairly vanilla) and what I’ve read, their S and LBs are slow. That is NOT something you want from blitzers chasing Michael Vick. If they blitz and we pick it up, it’s over.

    If we run 75 plays, I want 25-32 called runs (15 Shady, 10 Ronnie, 3 Lewis), That’s still 45 called pass plays.

  20. 20 Kyle said at 2:39 PM on September 9th, 2011:

    2 things scare me about the Rams.

    Steven Jackson/Caddy

    and Spags.

    He knows how to dial up a blitz and run a D

  21. 21 Marc G said at 2:43 PM on September 9th, 2011:

    Regarding the changes to the O-line in the past month . . .

    One thing worth noting is that during the 2000’s, Reid had great bookend tackles: T-Thomas, J-Runyon.

    Those bookends made the changes in the middle of the line less impactful.

    So here’s a prediction: Even w/ Watkins’ slow development and assuming that the talent between Peters and Herremans is deficient . . .


    The Eagles have them. That’ll let AR and MM will scheme around the rest of the problems.

    Bumps ahead. But the Eagles should be in good shape.

    And I’d love to see Ronnie Brown line up with L-McCoy in the same backfield. That’s classic WCO. And forces a LB to cover one of those guys — while the other pass protects.

  22. 22 Sam said at 2:46 PM on September 9th, 2011:

    Jim Johnson used to defend Vick really well. Spagnuolo knows how he did that better than anyone in the NFL, but if I remember correctly, it was all about disciplined lane responsibility — steadily collapse the pocket without leaving Vick room to run. I’m guessing, but I would expect that, as a baseline, that’s how he will play this as much as anything. Destroying the line with blitzes is great as long as it doesn’t leave a hole for Vick to scramble through, and that is more than anything what Spags wants to avoid.

  23. 23 Tommy Lawlor said at 3:05 PM on September 9th, 2011:

    @ Sam…

    Brilliant point. Hadn’t thought of the Spags/JJ vs Vick angle. You’re exactly right. JJ wanted to play outside-in and keep Vick in the pocket.

    Wonder if JJ would do that even with Vick being a much better passer these days.

  24. 24 Sam said at 3:07 PM on September 9th, 2011:

    Don’t know … it will be interesting to see how Spags plays it.

  25. 25 Kevin (RC) said at 3:21 PM on September 9th, 2011:

    I would love for Spags to rush 4, drop 7. That means the corners have to hold on for DSJ/Maclin, Leber has to cover Celek and whoever they put at WLB has to cover Shady. Good luck. All this in a dome where speed kills.

    Which team hurt Vick last year and didn’t blitz? The only one I can think of is Indy who had Freeney/Mathis…and even then we moved the ball, we just couldn’t convert in the red zone and score over 20 points.

  26. 26 Anders said at 4:12 PM on September 9th, 2011:

    Remember back then Vick wasnt much of a passer so you could dare him to beat you trough the air. Now that would just get you toasted.

  27. 27 McG said at 4:31 PM on September 9th, 2011:

    @ Sam… great p0int. Spags can basically choose between that style or the effective style used by the Vikings of blitzing a speed guy. It may be more effective to go JJ style since it seems the Rams lack a speedy safety to bring on the blitz.

    I would love to see the game start with a screen pass to Shady who is out in the open with Kelce out front.

  28. 28 Tommy Lawlor said at 4:50 PM on September 9th, 2011:

    Make sure you check out:

    I’ve got a few items posted from last night and today.

  29. 29 Baloophi said at 4:57 PM on September 9th, 2011:

    The Rams don’t scare me. But the Eagles do.

    We have A-level talent, but you never know what team is going to show up. And this year we’ve got additional causes for concern:

    – A new Defensive Coordinator. Can he make adjustments on the fly? (SEE McDermott, Sean)

    – As Tommy highlighted, we’ve got several question marks on the O-line. Will they jell? Will the new guys understand assignments? Will Vick be able to handle his new role of calling out protection schemes?

    – Will Andy ever figure out challenges, time-outs, and clock management?

    – If Steve Smith gets on the field, what happens with 3rd Down Avant? Do they rotate, or do we go single-back and cross our fingers?

    – If we fall behind, who panics first? The defense or the offense?

    I’m not worried, per se. Just pointing out that despite the level of competition, the biggest challenge might turn out to be on our own sidelines.

  30. 30 Noah said at 5:01 PM on September 9th, 2011:

    Not really related, but on the topics of former Eagles’ assistants currently coaching other teams, Rivera/McD have their starting LDE Greg Hardy (an athletic freak in his own right) as the gunner on the punt return team.

    Keenan Clayton at Gunner doesn’t seem so silly now, does it? ##anyonerememberthatfromlastsummer?#i’mtheonlypersonwhocaresaboutthesethings#i’msuchaloser

  31. 31 Tommy Lawlor said at 5:50 PM on September 9th, 2011:

    @ Baloophi…

    I think it was Bloom County where they had a cartoon that read, “We have met the enemy and it is us.”

    That could be true. We’ve got some things to work through. I just feel the combination of Reid, his staff, and our talent means we’ll come through that stuff okay.

    Steve Smith is here for 4 WR sets, which you can expect to see more of.

  32. 32 Tommy Lawlor said at 5:51 PM on September 9th, 2011:

    @ Noah…

    Interesting find. And I sure don’t remember Clayton at gunner, but that’s also interesting. Thanks for sharing that. I’ll file that nugget away.

  33. 33 TSA said at 6:05 PM on September 9th, 2011:

    The one man the Rams have who scares me and his name is Q. The Eagles will have to change all of their checks and audibles and at the line calls. Now the situation of a former teammate playing for another side happens all the time in the NFL so I’m sure Andy has a fair amount of changes he can make and rotations of words to use. However Q played this team everyday since like Moses was the QB. It’s not like Andy can just change the hotroute for a backside slant back to terminology that was used in like 04 because Q knows it. I’m just afraid there could be a few lapses and all of a sudden Q is playing like the Bucs in the SB because he knows what is coming.

  34. 34 DDay said at 6:40 PM on September 9th, 2011:

    Tommy can you do a scouting report on WVU QB Geno Smith?

  35. 35 Thunderlips said at 6:41 PM on September 9th, 2011:

    Feels like the time for my Super Bowl prediction.

    I’m with Mike Lombardi, I see the Redskins beating the Packers after an unprecedented mid-season conference switch. Also, Freddy Mercury will come out of “retirement” to sing the national anthem, and American Hero, Marlon Favorite, will preform an interpretive dance in lue of a traditional half time show.

  36. 36 ppk said at 6:54 PM on September 9th, 2011:

    @Tommy & Baloophi

    For the most intellgient Blog in the Eaglesphere, you guys don’t kow your comic strips. The quote, “We have met the enemy and he is us,” is not from Bloom County but from Pogo. Sheesh, show some populist literacy.

    Also, Tre Thomas ripped Mudd today on Mike and Ike. There’s cover of it on GCobb.

  37. 37 Baloophi said at 7:11 PM on September 9th, 2011:


    I don’t have time to peruse the trite prose of Pogo when I work all day coming up with fart jokes. Please.

  38. 38 Cliff said at 7:22 PM on September 9th, 2011:

    @ Andy

    Stew was signed by Arizona. Unless you’re talking about a different Disco Stew…

  39. 39 Cliff said at 7:26 PM on September 9th, 2011:

    Now we need a preview of the comments section/Eagles blogosphere for the Rams games:

    * Massive overreaction vs. Rationality

    * Nope, the above point sums it all up

  40. 40 Baloophi said at 7:34 PM on September 9th, 2011:


    Let’s leave a little room in the comments preview for a little irreverent chicanery. Such as…

    Did you know there’s an UDFA DE/LB out of Texas named Eddie Jones? If you’re the Rams, how can you not scoop up the guy with the same name as your stadium? They’re doing their fans a disservice.

  41. 41 Dewey said at 7:55 PM on September 9th, 2011:


    What do you hear/know/think about Eugene Chung the asst. OL coach?

  42. 42 Baloophi said at 8:02 PM on September 9th, 2011:


    Louisville / FIU

    – T.Y. Hilton. Good gravy. Djax lite?
    – Josh Chichester Eating gravy?

  43. 43 tst said at 9:11 PM on September 9th, 2011:

    Have you done any podcasts recently?

  44. 44 JO said at 9:37 PM on September 9th, 2011:

    @Tommy….What is the line at on whether MM and AR go deep to desean out of a two TE set on the first play?!? Or do you think that they finally get it, that everyone is expecting that and they fake it and throw a TE screen to clay harbor slipping out the backside with Kelce lead blocking?

  45. 45 JO said at 9:48 PM on September 9th, 2011:

    On a serious note…I really expect ALOT of screens this year. AR loves the screen game and the Eagles are one of the best teams in the NFL at it. With weapons like McCoy, Brown, Lewis, Clay, Smith, Desean and Machlin AR must be pitching a tent envisioning the screen package he can put together. Plus for the first time he has VERY athletic lineman that can get down field and throw a block on LBs and DBs. No more watching Nick Cole, MJG, McGlynn and others jogging 8 yards behind the screen watching McCoy trying to juke 9 defenders himself. Kelce, Watkins, Devan, Herrimans, Mathis and even JP when he’s motivated can run.
    @Tommy, if Devan does well, do you think the Eagles sign him long term? Hes young and fits what they are trying to do. Does he make Mathis dispensable, seeing Mathis will be 31? JP, Devan, Kelce, Watkins, Herrimans? Do you think they let Watkins, Mathis and Devam battle for two spots?

  46. 46 ATG said at 10:16 PM on September 9th, 2011:

    First play…

    I’m thinking a triple reverse – DeSean to Maclin to Kelce – flea flicker back to Vick, 60 yard frozen rope to Celek on a hook and ladder route to McCoy for a touchdown.

    Three runs, three passes on one play and involve all the skill positions. Let teams scout that for tendencies.

  47. 47 Kammich said at 10:42 PM on September 9th, 2011:

    Good read, as always. Look forward to tomorrow’s columns as we truly reach the 11th hour.

    Its almost here, boys. To a great season!

  48. 48 Tommy Lawlor said at 10:47 PM on September 9th, 2011:

    @ ATG…

    Don’t be stupid. That’s just what they’ll be expecting.

    Oh, and I’m working on the Comments issue.

  49. 49 Tommy Lawlor said at 10:48 PM on September 9th, 2011:

    @ JO…

    Love that play idea. I want to get the ball to Harbor on short throws this year. Let him run with it. We did a lot of stuff like that in 2003 and had great success.

  50. 50 Tommy Lawlor said at 10:49 PM on September 9th, 2011:

    @ tst…

    No podcasts. I was a 10-min guest on Eagles Live today. I’ll post a link later on.

    Podcasts is the next area I must address.

  51. 51 Tommy Lawlor said at 10:51 PM on September 9th, 2011:

    RE: TY Hilton

    He could be a definite draft target next year. Would be nice to have DJax insurance and other RS.

    RE: Eugene Chung

    Andy is really high on him. I’ve heard some good things. Solid NFL player back in the 90s.

  52. 52 Steve said at 11:04 AM on September 10th, 2011:

    I’d obviously love to see the Eagles pass protect like it is no one’s business and toss a shutout on defense; not because we would win but just because of the national media who have made such a huge deal out of the OL and TAKING YOUR OL COACH AND MAKING HIM YOUR D COORDINATOR.

    Then, of course, we’d be told to throw the result away because it’s the Rams.

  53. 53 Cafone said at 12:22 PM on September 10th, 2011:

    I can’t figure out how to vote. I see your name on the list, I click it, I see no ‘vote’ button.

    Maybe it doesn’t work on Chrome… I don’t know