For the first time all season, the tackle positions of the Eagles offensive line have their natural players: Jason Peters and the returning Lane Johnson. LeSean McCoy will finally have maximum protection (assuming no rust from Johnson) on the outside, which will also open up Brent Celek as a receiving tight end, with less need for him to block on the edge.
It remains to be seen if McCoy can get comfortable behind a rotating-by-necessity interior, now with likely Matt Tobin, David Molk, and veteran Todd Herremans ahead of him. Molk's been an awful pass protector, while Tobin is still largely unproven. McCoy needs to find a way to get that north-south speed burst back. Given the dire nature of St. Louis' run defense, McCoy needs this day more than anything.
RAMS WILL ATTACK THE MIDDLE
For the reasons stated above, expect Molk to get picked on heavily by a Rams pass rush that hasn't been there at all this season. With just one sack (Aaron Donald through the middle), St. Louis needs to jump start what was their calling card last year.
Robert Quinn will battle with Peters on the left side, while Johnson will get the whirling dirvish of guys not named Chris Long on the right. That leaves Donald, Kendall Langford, and the like to try and crash the middle to keep Nick Foles unsettled. Other than the Redskins game, and on fourth-quarter drives, Foles hasn't been setting his feet and making his usual throws.
DAVIS GOING DEEP?
Although the Eagles pass coverage was worlds better against the 49ers, Austin Davis is a fearless deep ball passer while playing with house money. Seven of 12 shots downfield 20 yards or more have been completed; five to different wideouts, and two for tight end Jared Cook.
Cary Williams and Bradley Fletcher are far from perfect, and the deep ball has been the perfect compliment to the Eagles' struggles against short throws. Malcolm Jenkins will need to be his most alert against a quarterback that will take maximum shots.
One of the seldom-mentioned positives out of the loss to San Francisco was the play of Emmanuel Acho. Once a summer-ending cut to keep Casey Matthews as the fourth inside linebacker, Acho was brought back following injury to Najee Goode. With Mychal Kendricks injured (likely out Sunday), Acho is showing that his return has been worth it.
Acho made four stops for losses in the running game, and had a sack taken off the scoresheet when the Eagles elected to take a 49ers penalty instead. Acho's versatility gives him the firepower to be the third wheel behind DeMeco Ryans and a healthy Kendricks.
WHICH FOLES IS IT?
Foles looked like Foles for the better part of the Redskins game, more than half of the Colts game, and the second half of the Jaguars game. A worn-down, less-protected Foles crumbled in Santa Clara, although turnovers by his receivers, and a lack of a running game, had a hand in the defeat.
The Rams defense has yet to find itself this season, and you'd think Foles could take advantage. Foles' first games after losses last season were the seven-TD killer in Oakland (after a week out with injury) and the Sunday night massacre over the Bears. Foles' Eagles have been known to rebound well following disappointment, and with some line adjustments, we'll see if that tradition holds up.
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