Needing to rebound from last week’s stunning second-half collapse against Washington, the Eagles will host the Los Angeles Rams Sunday at Lincoln Financial Field. Thanks to the COVID-19 pandemic, they won’t have the benefit of 70,000 screaming fans.
This will be the third time in the last four years that the Eagles and Rams have squared off. The previous two games were played in LA. The Eagles won both of them, beating the Rams, 30-23, in 2018 and 43-35 in 2017 on their way to their first-ever Super Bowl title.
And now, some pre-game stats:
The passing game
Carson Wentz threw two interceptions in the Washington loss. It was just his fourth multiple-interception game in the last four seasons (41 starts). They are the only two picks he’s thrown in his last 215 pass attempts. He has just five interceptions in his last 10 starts.
He completed 14 of his first 18 passes against Washington but just 10 of his last 24, including 10 of 20 in the second half. In the Eagles' last four regular-season games last year – all wins – Wentz had a 113.5 second-half passer rating, including a 73.3 completion percentage.
Wentz attempted seven passes against Washington that traveled 20 or more yards in the air. He was 2-for-7 for 89 yards with one touchdown on those seven deep balls. He threw a 34-yard touchdown pass to tight end Dallas Goedert that traveled 29 yards in the air, and connected on a 55-yard pass (52 yards in the air) with rookie wide receiver Jalen Reagor. Reagor was targeted twice on 20-plus yard throws. DeSean Jackson was targeted three times and Zach Ertz once.
Wentz was 5-for-13 for 78 yards, 1 TD and 1 INT on throws between 11 and 19 yards. He was 9-for-14 for 87 yards with an INT on 0-10-yard throws. He was 8-for-8 for just 17 yards on throws to receivers behind the line of scrimmage.
Goedert notched the first 100-yard receiving game of his career against Washington, gaining 101 yards on eight completions. The eight catches were the second most of his career. He had nine in a Week 16 win over Dallas last year. The breakdown of Goedert’s eight receptions by passing distance: 20-plus yards – 1-34; 11-19 yards – 1-16; 0-10 yards – 4-49; behind LOS: 2-2.
Jackson, Reagor, and fellow rookie John Hightower were targeted a combined 15 times Sunday. Those 15 targets resulted in just four completions and two interceptions.
Wentz completed six of 10 third-down passes. Those six completions produced just three first downs. Over the last three seasons, the Eagles are 3-10 in games in which Wentz completes three or fewer third-down passes for first downs.
Two of Wentz’s three third-down conversions against Washington came on passes to slot receiver Greg Ward. In the Eagles' last three games last year, Wentz completed 19 third-down pass attempts. Five of them were to Ward.
The Eagles scored on both of their first two possessions in Week 1. That happened just five times last season. They were 3-2 in games in which they scored on their first two possessions.
The Eagles averaged 8.1 yards per play on their first two possessions, and 7.2 on their first four Sunday. On their last 11 possessions, they averaged just 2.5 yards per play. Twelve of their 19 first downs came on their first four possessions, including eight on their first two possessions.
They blew a 17-0 first-half lead and a 17-7 halftime advantage. Last year, the Eagles led at halftime just eight times. They were 6-2 in those eight games. They were up 10-6 on the Patriots at halftime, and lost 17-10, and were up 21-16 on the Dolphins, and lost 31-27. The Eagles had a minus-29 halftime point differential in 2019, which was the 10th-worst in the league. The combined record of the nine teams who were outscored by more points in the first half than the Eagles: 44-99-1.
Thanks mainly to three Eagles turnovers and a pair of failed fourth-down tries, Washington started six of its 15 drives Sunday in Eagles territory. Six!!!
Washington’s average drive start was its 40-yard line. The Eagles' average drive start was their 24.7. That’s the largest field-position gap in a game for the Eagles since Doug Pederson became the head coach in 2016.
Seven of Washington’s 15 drives started beyond their 40-yard line. That’s the most plus-40 drive starts against the Eagles in the Pederson era. The Raiders had six plus-40 drive starts against them in a 2017 game (a 19-10 Eagles win). The Seahawks also had six in a 24-10 Eagles loss in 2016.
The Rams ran the ball 40 times against the Cowboys last week, and figure to try to run the ball on the Eagles to set up their play-action game. In the previous two meetings between Sean McVay and Doug Pederson, the Rams ran the ball a total of 35 times – 18 times in a 30-23 loss in 2018, and 17 times in a 43-35 loss in 2017. The fact that the Rams only ran 45 offensive plays in that 2017 game contributed to their low run-play total.
Washington ran the ball 36 times last week against the Eagles. Sixteen of those rushing attempts came in the fourth quarter.
The Eagles held Washington to 2.2 yards per carry. They allowed just five rushing first downs and two runs of 10-plus yards, one of them a 19-yard keeper by quarterback Dwayne Haskins.
Twenty-five of Washington’s 36 rushing attempts gained two yards or less. Seven lost yardage. They gained 61 yards on their first 10 carries but only 19 on their last 26 runs.
And so forth and so on
Forty-eight of the Eagles' 67 offensive plays against Washington (71.6%) were out of shotgun. That percentage is nearly identical to their season average last year (71.7).
Just 10 of the Eagles' 50 pass plays were run from under center. Wentz was 3-for-7 for 58 yards, 1 INT and 3 sacks on pass plays from under center.
As they did last year, the Eagles continued to predominantly use multiple-tight end personnel groupings in Week 1. Thirty-eight of their 67 plays (56.7%) were run with 12-personnel (1RB, 2TE, 2WR). Four other plays also employed personnel groupings with two or three tight ends.
Just 13 of the 42 plays the Eagles ran with 2-3 tight ends were run plays. Wentz was 14-25-145, 2TDs, 1INT, 4 sacks with 2-3 tight ends.
Washington converted three of four red-zone opportunities into touchdowns in Week 1. Last year, the Eagles finished tied for 14th in red-zone defense, with a 55.8 touchdown percentage.
The Eagles blitzed on just six of 34 pass plays (17.6%) against Washington. Blitzed twice on third down. One produced a sack, the other resulted in a 10-yard completion for a first down.
Doug Pederson went for it on fourth down twice against Washington. Both attempts – a fourth-and-4 late in the third quarter, and a fourth-and-3 with 4½ minutes left in the game – failed, giving Washington the ball at the Philadelphia 46- and 42-yard lines. The Eagles finished 29th in the league in fourth-down success rate last season (33.3), converting just 8 of 24 attempts. The year before, they finished 10th (60.9). In 2017, they were third (65.4).