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St. Louis Rams Could Turn Philadelphia Eagles Dreams into Nightmares: Fan’s Take
Practically since the NFL lockout ended and the frenzied and abbreviated training camps and preseason began, there've been numerous people doubting the St. Louis Rams—or any opponent of the Philadelphia Eagles this year—will stand a chance of winning a game against the club from the City of Brotherly Love. Of course, those in the know and with even a modicum of real football knowledge know adding some high-profile and high-priced free agents in the offseason doesn't guarantee you anything.
In fact, the history of the sport is littered with the carcasses of franchises who've bet big on big-name acquisitions only to watch their season go down in flames when the reality didn't meet their fantasy.
Called a "Dream Team" by some because of pickups like Nnamdi Asomugha(notes), Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie(notes), Vince Young(notes), and Ronnie Brown(notes), the Eagles definitely have a number of dynamic players who—if they can come together to form a cohesive team—stand a chance of being a fairly good squad. However, I'll go out on a limb and say I don't see that happening anytime in the first couple of games. In fact, I wouldn't be surprised if it takes Philadelphia a good three or four games to really get in sync.
The Rams, on the other hand, have a very solid team, and a defensive line I believe is good enough to actually fulfill their mission of trying to contain Michael Vick. While I admit I'm someone who despises Vick because of his off-the-field actions, I'll be the first to admit his abilities on the field are unquestioned. The guy can flat-out ball at times. However, he's hardly the unstoppable "Football God" some of his fans believe he is, and I'm confident a defensive line unit for St. Louis that finished seventh in the NFL in sacks in 2010—with a total of 43—will be pressuring Vick all day.
The Rams have rookie defensive end Robert Quinn(notes) out of North Carolina to add to their ferocious attack that includes Chris Long(notes), Fred Robbins(notes), and Justin Bannan(notes). St. Louis will definitely have a huge advantage running Robbins and Bannan against the two rookies the Eagles will be starting in center Jason Kelce(notes) and right guard Danny Watkins(notes). Both are good, but I don't believe they're that good. Also, I'm not convinced any of the other offensive linemen for the Eagles are much better.
While Vick and the Philadelphia offense can be pretty explosive, that's only when the Eagles signal-caller can find time to connect with some of his dynamic playmakers like wideouts DeSean Jackson(notes) and Jeremy Maclin(notes), and running back Le Sean McCoy. In this game against the Rams, I don't see him finding that kind of time and could easily believe he'll be spending a lot of time on his back in the game. He's not likely to find much protection coming from left tackle Jason Peters(notes) or left guard Evan Mathis(notes); and heaven help him if head coach Andy Reid decides to go with Kyle DeVan(notes) in place of Mathis. Furthermore, I expect Long to abuse right tackle Todd Herremans(notes) all day "long."
On the other side of the ball, while Asomugha and Rodgers-Cromartie are definitely a great defensive backs tandem, there's not a cornerback in the NFL who can contain every receiver on an offensive unit forever, and those two will find they'll be getting little help along the Philadelphia defensive front seven in containing Sam Bradford(notes); or in stopping the run. Eagles defensive end Trent Cole(notes) isn't going to do a thing against St. Louis left tackle Rodger Saffold(notes) if you ask me, and the other linemen in Philadelphia's unit will face nearly as stiff a task in harrying the St. Louis signal-caller.
Combine that with the fact St. Louis Rams' offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels will be taking on a guy in Eagles' defensive coordinator Juan Castillo who's never coached defense at any level of football since 1995, and this could be a huge mismatch. While McDaniels might not have been head coach material—as his stint with the Broncos seems to have shown—he is someone who knows the offense well; and knows precisely how to beat defenses.
Now, if this contest were being played in the friendly confines of the Lincoln Financial Field, I'd say even despite everything I've said above the Eagles might have a slugger's chance at winning the battle. Being as it's taking place inside the Edward Jones Dome in Missouri, I think Philadelphia and their fans are going to have a rough day on Sunday, Sept. 11.
Of course, I could be wrong about all this, and St. Louis could find itself on the wrong end of a blowout. After all, in sports there are never any guarantees. However, I'd say there's a good chance the matchups are going to favor the Rams by a large margin and Eagles fans will be getting a sick feeling watching their "Dream" turn into a nightmare.
Hut, hut, hike!
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Read more by Daniel Barber aka Hotnuke at TFS Sports.
*Daniel Barber has been a fan of all Miami teams since he was a child or since their inception having been born right above Miami.
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