LA Rams defensive coordinator Brandon Staley will be Eagles QB Wentz’s worst possible nightmare
The LA Rams are heading to face the Philadelphia Eagles. While the Rams are 1-0 and the Eagles are 0-1, the Eagles have had the Rams number in recent years. Despite a winning season in each of the years that he’s led the Rams, head coach Sean McVay has yet to beat them. The Eagles know the Rams well, and Doug Pederson has defeated Rams head coach Sean McVay both times they have face one another.
This time, the LA Rams have an Ace up their sleeve. They disguise coverages, and in doing so, they cause confusion on opposing quarterbacks. But perhaps Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Carson Wentz may be a bit more susceptible to confusion.
Wait, Wentz what?
In the November 2019 broadcast of the Seattle Seahawks visiting the Philadelphia Eagles, Fox broadcasters referred to a question posed to head coach Doug Pederson earlier in the week. The Fox booth crew for the game were Kevin Burkhardt (play by play) and Charles Davis (analyst). With the Seahawks up by a score of 10-3 and with 4:52 remaining in the second quarter, the conversation turned to Eagles’ quarterback Carson Wentz:
"Broadcasters: “We asked Doug Pederson about (quarterback Carson) Wentz’s decision and I thought he said something interesting. He said ‘We have to continue to show him on film where the ball should go.‘ But, shouldn’t he know that?”"
Why yes, yes he should. What is surprising is that he doesn’t yet process reading defenses to a point where he knows where to go with the ball. What’ worse is that his head coach is willing to share that with a television crew.
Eagles route schemes
The Philadelphia Eagles passing offense does three things. Whenever possible, the Eagles like to flood their routes with up to five receivers to force man-to-man coverages across the board. When not employing five spread offense, the Eagles like to go with two tight ends with a specific read. The key for this one will likely be whichever tight end has Aaron Donald on that side becomes a blocker, and the other tight end becomes the hot receiver. That makes it a simple read. Throw the ball away from Aaron Donald.
“We (Eagles coaching staff) have to continue to show him (Eagles QB Carson Wentz) on film where the ball should go.”
The final trick to the Eagles offense is bunching or clustering multiple receivers on one side, and one single receiver on the other. In this scheme, the lone receiver is presumed to be man coverage, while the bunch can either be man or zone, but provide the opportunity for a quick screen or a more involved play downfield.
Stand by, Staley should have fun in this one
Of course, for every measure, there is a countermeasure. The Rams have plenty of solid defensive backs and will be more than capable of defending the Eagles spread formation. Of course, the defense could move a linebacker out and blitz a defensive back by surprise. For two tight end sets, the Rams demonstrated against the Cowboys that Aaron Donald can wipe out nearly an entire offensive line by stunting from one side to the other.
For the bunching? As long as the Rams are able to outman the Eagles receivers, players like John Johnston or Jalen Ramsey can work the quarterback and attack the ball in the air. The Rams can devise a lot of disguises in the defense, disguises that would make the most astute quarterbacks pause. In this one? Carson Wentz may have nightmares after the game.