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Thread: Rams - Eagles Preview
Rams - Eagles Preview
From Gameday - Philadelphia Eagles
The Eagles kick off the regular season at home for the first time since 2004 when they host St. Louis on Sunday, Sept. 7. Kickoff is set for 1 p.m. The Eagles last hosted the Rams on an opening day back in 2001.
With a mix of veteran and youth, the Eagles will look to build on a strong finish to last season. Philadelphia closed out the 2007 campaign with three consecutive victories, including a road win at Dallas.
In a year's time, Donovan McNabb has returned to being Donovan McNabb. He has been the personality of the team with his sense of humor and his let's-get-after-it approach. That is very good news for an Eagles team that needs to make a big move in the NFC East this season. McNabb, of course, is joined by Brian Westbrook, who led all NFL players in yards per scrimmage in 2007.
"I think Donovan has always been a great quarterback, but I think he became even better when he went through those struggles last year when he had very little mobility and he was getting the ball to four and five in the progression," said offensive coordinator Marty Mornhinweg. "I think he became a better quarterback that way. And then you combine the fact that he is healthy and he can run and gun like he did a couple of years back ... He has looked great."
On defense, a unit that produced an NFL-low 19 takeaways in 2007 welcomes Asante Samuel to the mix that includes Pro Bowl players Brian Dawkins and Lito Sheppard. The front seven, meanwhile, is a young, fast group.
The Rams, meanwhile, are coming off a forgettable 2007. The team finished with a 3-13 mark, which was the second-worst record in the NFL. Contrary to Philadelphia, St. Louis lost four straight games to close out the season. A rash of injuries to key players - like Marc Bulger, Steven Jackson, Orlando Pace and Leonard Little - proved costly.
Fielding a healthy squad to start 2008 is key for St. Louis. And the season could be a critical for third-year head coach Scott Linehan, who is just 11-21 since he took over prior to the 2006 season.
"I feel comfortable with where we're at as a team," Linehan said. "I've been very happy with our progress. We had a lot of goals set for this time, you know, prior to the regular season, and we accomplished a whole bunch of them."
The Eagles have won four of the last five meetings on home turf. The teams last battled in Philadelphia on Dec. 1, 2002. This mark the Rams' first visit to Lincoln Financial Field.
Last Time They Met … Dec. 18, 2005: Eagles 17, Rams 16
Trailing by nine points late in the third quarter, the Eagles rallied for a 17-16 win on Dec. 18, 2005, earning their first-ever victory over the Rams in St. Louis. Philadelphia's defense stood out during the triumph, including a dominant second-half performance in which they allowed just three points and 120 yards of offense. FS Brian Dawkins' interception and 24-yard return to the Rams' 28-yard line set up the winning score, a 3-yard touchdown pass from Mike McMahon to Mike Bartrum early in the fourth quarter. Later, Dawkins and Co. stuffed Rams RB Marshall Faulk on a key 4th-and-1 situation and also knocked down a fourth-down pass attempt by QB Jamie Martin in the final seconds.
When The Eagles Have The Ball
Yeah, this should pretty much be Brian Westbrook's game. Forget for a second that top wide receiver Kevin Curtis will miss the action as he recovers from sports hernia surgery, and this game is still Brian Westbrook's. Here's the reasoning: the offensive line should be 100 percent healthy, and the Rams' defensive line is in the midst of a transition. At end, Leonard Little is 34, while second overall pick Chris Long enters the 2008 season on the shoulders of hype and his Hall-of-Fame father, Howie. At tackle, La'Roi Glover is an experienced veteran, while Adam Carriker has shown the ability to be a mainstay on the St. Louis defense. You have to figure the offensive coaching staff will try to exploit the aging legs of the veterans while counting on a bit of inexperience from the youngsters. At linebacker, the Rams are unremarkably solid, but fast. St. Louis' secondary, however, is probably the standout unit, which could mean trouble for the Eagles' receivers. Last season, St. Louis defense ranked 21st in total defense (241.1 yards per game) and 31st in points allowed.
When The Rams Have The Ball
Though hardly ""The Greatest Show on Turf"" anymore, St. Louis has some more than viable weapons offensively, with Al Saunders at the controls as the offensive coordinator. Bullish tailback Steven Jackson has just been rewarded with a monster contract to stay with the Rams. A light load for Jackson would be 25 carries, and he wears on a defense with every one of them. Split out, Torry Holt will be without Isaac Bruce for the first time in his Hall-of-Fame career. Still, Eagles cornerback Asante Samuel will be thrown right into the fire, facing a superstar in his first game in coordinator Jim Johnson's scheme. But without a solid offensive line to protect quarterback Marc Bulger, this Rams offense might not be any better than the 2007 version, which ranked 25th in the NFL in rushing at 95.4 yards per game and 28th in total scoring. Left tackle Orlando Pace has played nine games in two seasons, and still has some lingering shoulder concerns. The team left guard Jacob Bell to the mix during the offseason.
Eagles WRs vs. Rams DBs
St. Louis might have one of the more overlooked secondaries in football. Cornerback Tye Hill is on the verge of stardom, and if Fakhir Brown can stay out of trouble he might be right there with him. Free safety Oshiomogho Atogwe led the NFC with eight interceptions last season. Remember: the Eagles are missing Kevin Curtis, and Reggie Brown limped through the preseason with hamstring problems. Will Brown be healthy, and if not, will somebody else be able to step up?
Eagles special teams vs. Rams special teams
St. Louis added clutch kicker Josh Brown to replace the retired Jeff Wilkins. Philadelphia, meanwhile, has a pair of rookie returners poised to make some noise this season. Kick returner Quintin Demps averaged 36.4 yards with his opportunities during the preseason, while punt returner DeSean Jackson averaged 12.5 yards.
Rams Players to Watch
LT Orlando Pace
The seven-time Pro Bowl tackle has missed 23 of 32 games over the past two seasons because of injuries. Last year, he suffered a season-ending shoulder injury - torn rotator cuff and labrum - in the season opener which required surgery. He returned for training camp and tweaked his shoulder making a tackle on an interception return in the preseason. If Pace can remain healthy, it will give the Rams a much-better chance for success on the offensive side of the ball. Alex Barron was not a reliable replacement in Pace's absence; although he was the only offensive line starter to remain healthy for the entire season. Pace's ability allows quarterback Marc Bulger more time in the pocket to throw. Bulger is not mobile; he took a lot of hits last season and his mechanics aren't good when he's rushed. Pace can also pave the way for All-Pro Steven Jackson, who had 1,002 rushing yards despite playing in only 12 games last season.
CB Tye Hill
He may only be 5-9, but don't be surprised if Hill's name starts to be mentioned among the better cornerbacks in the NFC after this season. The key for Hill is he has to stay healthy - he missed eight games with back and wrist injuries last season. Hill is very quick and agile, and a nice complement for the taller, more physical Fakhir Brown. Hill's closing speed and tackling ability will make it difficult for the Eagles to make a big play against him. Hill will be counted upon to improve the Rams' 21st-ranked pass defense of a year ago.
Re: Rams - Eagles Preview
wow a hella lotta of love for Tye Hill. He can be that, but we don't know and we really haven't seen it yet.
-08-30-2008 #5PA_gal_in_OK Guest
Re: Rams - Eagles PreviewEagles special teams vs. Rams special teams. Philadelphia, meanwhile, has a pair of rookie returners poised to make some noise this season. Kick returner Quintin Demps averaged 36.4 yards with his opportunities during the preseason, while punt returner DeSean Jackson averaged 12.5 yards.
-08-30-2008 #7btimsah Guest
Re: Rams - Eagles Preview
The fact that Linehan is our coach, that's the part that worries me.
Re: Rams - Eagles Preview
I really feel like we can beat Philly. This may be one of the few games where our corners actually have an advantage. I say stack the box blitz a lot and shut down Westbrook. Let our corners go one on one. If they can't hang with these wr's they dont belong in the NFL. Philly doesnt scare me as much as some of the other teams early in our schedule. Would be nice to be 1-0 going into the game at home vs the Giants. Of course our first home game the stadium will probably be full of Giants fans while the Rams fans are out shopping.Just Fix It
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