How Wade Phillips transformed Rams' D Eagles face Sunday

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How Wade Phillips transformed Rams' D Eagles face Sunday

The Rams have one of the top offenses in the NFL (fourth in total yards, seventh in passing) and quarterback Jared Goff has benefited the most from Sean McVay's exit from the NFC East. Goff is really showing why he was the top pick in last year's draft, but I must say, defense has been a major contributor in the Rams' 9-3 record.
First-year defensive coordinator Wade Phillips has total control of the defensive side of the ball. In fact, McVay at times doesn't have a clue during the game what the defense is doing, considering he sits and focuses on the offense.
It is really crazy to think about how good this defense is because it is in a transition period ... kind of like what Jim Schwartz struggled through last year. 

Last season, when the Rams' defense was pretty good, they ran a 4-3. Phillips, however, likes to run a 3-4 defense. This is a major change to overcome, especially on the defensive line. The D-line has to totally change its mindset. In a 4-3 defense, the D-linemen line up in the gaps and are responsible for one gap, penetrating the offensive line. Converting to a 3-4 defense causes the D-linemen to become two-gap players. They now line up head-up on an offensive lineman and then hold the offensive lineman because they are responsible for both gaps between the O-linemen.
Phillips, in order to take advantage of the strengths of his players, turned his 3-4 defense into a hybrid that takes advantage of his two best players, defensive end Robert Quinn and defensive tackle Aaron Donald. Both of these players are great at attacking and penetrating the O-line. This is totally against the conceptual defensive structure of a 3-4 defensive lineman. The Rams slide the DL into gaps and allow them to penetrate.
This hybrid 3-4 defense is very effective for the Rams because they now can line their best player up to force matchups. The key matchup in this game will be Donald, their best, against the Eagles' small but solid center Jason Kelce. Donald is listed at 6-1/300 while Kelce is 6-3/280.

The other key matchup is the very quick end Quinn vs. Lane Johnson. All four players will probably be selected to the Pro Bowl this year. 

This Sunday will be a clash of the titans between the Eagles' best O-linemen and the best the Rams have to offer. This is what Sunday NFL Football is all about.

Gunn-on-One: Malcolm Jenkins pleasantly surprised with Avonte Maddox

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Gunn-on-One: Malcolm Jenkins pleasantly surprised with Avonte Maddox

Malcolm Jenkins is the jack-of-all-trades for an Eagles’ defense that is hurting on the back end. 

No. 27 is this week’s Gunn-on-One subject.

Gunn: Give me your assessment of this team after six games.

Jenkins: The real assessment is we’re 3-3. We’ve earned three wins and I think when you look at the three losses, most of them we felt like we gave those away. And so we’re coming off a big win on a short week in the division, but as we look out at the landscape in the NFC East, all of our goals are right in front of us. While it hadn’t started like we wanted to, it’s still very much alive, so we’re focusing on each week, making sure that we’re putting out the best performance we can to be successful, and nothing bigger than coming home against the Carolina Panthers. A team that has been to the playoffs. A really good running game, obviously a premiere quarterback, premiere tight end, premier receiver, premier running back, some great challenges, and a defense that can get after you with some linebackers that know how to make plays. So we’ve got a challenge and we’re excited about that opportunity to compete.

Gunn: You guys are nicked up on the back end. You have pieces moving all over the place. How much more responsibility falls on you to hold it together back there?

Jenkins: I think initially that’s kind of the reaction — that a lot of that falls on me, but it’s been a pleasant surprise for me to see Avonte Maddox step up the way he has. Not only is he playing a new position, but we’ve given him the responsibility to call the defense, set the defense, which takes a little bit off my plate. He’s really filling a role so that my role doesn’t change. We got other guys that we have to cross-train just because we’re so thin with depth as a contingency plan. One: it gives us better depth. Two: it gives us a little bit of an advantage as well. It’s my responsibility to make sure these guys are prepared.

To see the expanded version of my Gunn-on-One with Jenkins, go to the #MyTeams Philadelphia sports app, and also watch Eagles Pregame Live this Sunday between noon and 1 p.m.

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Get ready to see Eagles’ little-known DT Treyvon Hester take a bigger role

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Get ready to see Eagles’ little-known DT Treyvon Hester take a bigger role

Doug Pederson said Friday defensive tackle Treyvon Hester is “definitely going to be asked to do a little bit more this week” against the Panthers. 

Based on Hester’s performance last week, that’s a good thing. 

The Eagles added the 26-year-old defensive tackle to their practice squad in early September and promoted him to the active roster less than a month later. With Haloti Ngata’s lingering calf injury and Tim Jernigan’s return in question, the Eagles are probably going to ask more of Hester going forward. 

“Treyvon is an explosive player,” defensive line coach Chris Wilson said. “He has some similarities to Tim Jernigan in regards to how twitchy he is on the backside. A lot of times, Fletcher Cox gets a lot of attention and [Hester] has the ability to win some 1-on-1s. We need that.”

Although he played just 15 snaps in the game against the Giants, he showed more flashes than some other defensive tackles have shown all year. And he did it on back-to-back plays in the second quarter, when Cox was on the bench. 

On this 1st-and-10, Hester got through Giants right guard Patrick Omameh and puts a hit on Eli Manning as Manning’s pass goes incomplete. 

Then, on the very next snap, Hester made another play. 

On this one, Hester gets through a double-team and takes down Saquon Barkley for no gain. It was one of just two of Barkley’s runs that went for no gain Thursday. 

“Just being able to go out there and play feels good,” Hester said. “Anything I can do out there to help the team get a W, I’m just going to play my part.”

Hester was a seventh-round pick by the Raiders in 2017 and actually played in 14 games and started one as a rookie. So it was probably a little humbling to come to Philly and have to wait for his turn while on the practice squad. 

He used that time going against the Eagles’ very talented offensive line. He worked to get them prepared for each game, which also helped him grow as a player while on the practice squad. 

But now he has his chance. And the Eagles are counting on him to make the most of it.

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