The Los Angeles Rams traveled east for their first road game of the season in Week 2, easily handling a Philadelphia Eagles team that was predicted by many to make the playoffs this year by a score of 37-19.
The win moved the Rams to 2-0, which has happened every year since Sean McVay took over as head coach.
As a quick recap of the game before going into more detail, L.A. came out strong and jumped out to an early 21-3 lead in the first half. The Eagles gained some momentum towards the end of the second quarter, however, capitalizing on a Cooper Kupp fumble on a punt return to add a much-needed touchdown just before halftime.
It looked as if they carried that momentum into the second half as the Rams went three-and-out on their first drive and then the Eagles drove all the way down the field. Carson Wentz made an unforgivable mistake, however, throwing into double coverage in the end zone, which led to a Darious Williams interception.
The Rams were able to resume their domination from there, cruising to the three-score victory and beating the NFC East’s two best teams in back-to-back weeks.
Here are some in-depth observations from the game:
The Jared Goff/Sean McVay combo is deadly
Let’s start with McVay since he is the mastermind of this Rams offense that has regained its spot as one of the best in the league so far this season.
With people being forced to stay home essentially this entire year due to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, that gave McVay all the time in the world to essentially transform and improve the Rams’ offense after a subpar 2019 season.
Some of it has to do with the team’s improved offensive line, which has been great to start the season. But a lot of it also has to do with McVay’s play design and ability to disguise what the Rams are actually doing offensively.
Whether it be pre-snap motions, running the ball with efficiency or play actions with rolling Jared Goff out to get him in space, the Eagles simply had no answer for the Rams offense.
Goff began the game with 13 straight completions, which is the best start of his career. He finished completing 20 of his 27 pass attempts for 267 yards and three touchdowns, also not turning the ball over.
A big story going into the game was the battle between Goff and Wentz, the top two picks from the 2016 draft, and Goff won that battle with ease as Wentz finished 26-of-43 with 242 yards, zero touchdowns and a pair of interceptions.
Everyone knows Goff isn’t the most mobile quarterback, but right now, the Rams are throwing the ball less than any team in the league because of how well they have been able to run it. The Rams have had at least 39 rushing attempts in both of their games this season, something they did zero times in 2019. And when they do throw it, Goff has had a clean, moving pocket that allows him to pick defenses apart by finding the open man among the Rams’ incredible group of skilled-position players.
Micah Kiser looks like Cory Littleton
Perhaps the Rams’ biggest question mark going into the 2020 season was the linebacker position after losing Cory Littleton in free agency.
Micah Kiser was limited to just two games in 2019 before suffering a season-ending injury, but he was able to win the starting middle linebacker job going into this season and proved why in the win over the Eagles.
Kiser was all over the field, helping stop the run as looking solid in pass coverage, which is also what makes Littleton so great. Kiser finished the game with a team-high 16 total tackles (11 solo) and also a big pass defensed.
If he is going to continue to play the way he did against the Eagles, then the linebacker position may actually become one of strength for L.A.
Other defensive backs around Jalen Ramsey will have to step up
When the Rams acquired Jalen Ramsey, they knew they were getting one of the best shutdown cornerbacks in the league. And when a player has that reputation, however, that means that teams often won’t throw in their direction.
That was the case against the Eagles as they only targeted receivers that Ramsey was covering twice in the whole game, with both passes falling incomplete.
If that is going to continue, which can be expected, then that means the Rams’ other defensive backs will be targeted most of the time so they will have to step up.
They were able to do exactly that on Sunday after both Darious Williams and Troy Hill came up with big interceptions of Wentz. If they are able to keep that up, then the Rams will have one of the best secondaries in the league as their safeties, led by the unexpected production of rookie Jordan Fuller, are looking great as well.
Running back position could be a committee all year
Despite both Sean McVay and Les Snead stating that the running back position would be a committee after the release of Todd Gurley, everyone including myself were very quick to think Malcolm Brown would win the job after a stellar Week 1 performance.
If anyone would replace Brown we thought it would be Cam Akers as it is clear the team is high on him after drafting him in the second round in 2020.
So naturally, of course it was Darrell Henderson that looked the best of the bunch in the win over the Eagles. It is worth mentioning that both Akers (chest) and Brown (finger) suffered injuries in the game, but that should not take away from how good Henderson looked.
Henderson was another guy the Rams seemed to be high on after taking him in the third round last year, although he stayed quiet throughout his entire rookie season and then only played five snaps in Week 1 coming off a hamstring injury that limited him in training camp.
He finished the game with 12 carries for 81 yards and a touchdown, also adding a pair of receptions for 40 yards. The eye test matched those stats as he was great in the second half, using his speed and elusiveness to pick up chunk gains to help bleed out the clock.
Whether he can continue that remains to be seen, although he may get the opportunity next week depending on how serious the Brown and Akers injuries are.
Regardless though, it seems that essentially any running back can produce in this McVay offense, and the team will continue rotating their backs (if healthy) to keep everyone fresh. It sucks for fantasy owners, but definitely seems like the best path to success for the Rams.
Tyler Higbee is an elite tight end
Jared Goff and tight end Tyler Higbee built an incredible rapport in the second half of last season, and that has continued into 2020.
Higbee was open all day against the Eagles and has developed into the Rams’ top red zone threat, hauling in five receptions for 54 yards and three touchdowns, which matched his total from all of 2019.
Covering all of the Rams receivers isn’t easy, especially with the emergence of rookie Van Jefferson, and now adding a top tight end to the mix makes it almost impossible for defenses across the league.
Injuries pile up across the league
In addition to losing a pair of running backs, the Rams also saw guard Joseph Noteboom leave the game with a dalf injury. That was a microcosm of the day as star players such as Saquon Barkley, Nick Bosa, Courtland Sutton, Jimmy Garapolo, Drew Lock, Malik Hooker and many more all suffered serious injuries in what was a brutal day across the league.
Unfortunately, this seems to be a product of having no minicamp, OTAs, preseason and a shortened training camp, which was unavoidable due to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic but doesn’t make it any easier to swallow.
NFC West is a gauntlet
Everyone knew the NFC West would be good going into the season, but who would have thought it would be THIS good.
The Rams, Seattle Seahawks and Arizona Cardinals are all 2-0 with some impressive wins under their belts. The San Francisco 49ers, who made the Super Bowl last season, are 1-1 and coming off an impressive demolishing of the New York Jets despite seemingly half their team getting injured.
With the addition of a seventh playoff team in each conference, it is not out of the question that the NFC West sends all four teams.
The NFC East, on the other hand…WOOF!