Eagles Need to Confuse Jared Goff
(973espn.com) - After chasing around Russell Wilson for 60 minutes, the Eagles' defense will likely be thrilled to find a more traditional quarterback waiting for them in Los Angeles this weekend.
Jared Goff and the much-improved Rams present their own problems, however, with a unique college-like system in which there is no real huddle and the QB looks to first-year head coach Sean McVay to overlook the defense and then transfer the information to Goff before the 15-second cutoff in the communication system.
One of the major reasons why the Eagles preferred Carson Wentz to Goff, who went No. 1 overall, in the 2016 draft was that the franchise believed its choice was well ahead of the curve when it came to the things a traditional NFL quarterback is asked to do whether it's adjusting protections, audibilizing at the line of scrimmage, or moving through progressions in the passing game.
Goff, on the other hand, possessed tremendousarm talent but was coming out of Cal's "Bear Raid" system, a spread philosophy that didn't really require the quarterback to do any of those things.
Hindsight confirms Philadelphia was correct in its scouting assessment as Goff was a disaster in his rookie season with a defensive-minded head coach in Jeff Fisher and an offensive coordinator whose expertise was with the offensive line (Rob Boras). Wentz, meanwhile, showed plenty of promise as a freshman and has exploded into a legitimate MVP candidate for the 10-2 Eagles.
Goff, though, has been rescued by the hiring of McVay and offensive coordinator Matt LaFleur, offensive minds who understand what he's good at and what still needs work.
The good is the ability to throw the football and the bad remains his understanding of what complex NFL defenses are trying to accomplish on a weekly basis so McVay came up with the somewhat innovative approach of feeding the information at the line of scrimmage, something Eagles' defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz downplayed.
"A lot of quarterbacks do that," Schwartz explained. "It's part of the -- in college it's a little more look to the sideline. Honestly, for him, it's a little more listen to what coach says. Now, that's not unique to what the Rams do. There are a lot of teams that use pre-snap reads and keys to try to change plays at the last minute. You do have a 15-second cutoff, so you can't take it down too far. Pretty much everybody does it. Defenses do the same thing."
Every team is in its QB's ear, however, but no other team takes it as deeply into the available time as McVay, who is trying to take as much off as Goff's plate as he can while the second-year player continues to slowly progress on the learning curve.
That means the Eagles defense needs to be disciplined and not declare its intentions until late in play clock because once the 15-second cutoff arrives Goff is on his own.
It's all about confusing a talented young player.
"I don't want to go too much at it. I know where you're going with that," Schwartz said when pressed on the Rams' system. "I don't want to go too much into our operation when it comes to those things. But there are ways that we can combat that kind of audible system."
-John McMullen covers the Eagles and the NFL for 973espn.com. You can reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @JFMcMullen