When Sean McVay left the Redskins to become head coach of the Rams, the Eagles weren't sad to see him go. But while McVay may be out of the NFC East, he presents a pivotal challenge for the Eagles' defense in Week 14.
McVay was the offensive coordinator in Washington for three seasons, a period during which the Redskins posted a 5-1 record against the Eagles. Simply put, they had no answer for McVay's offense, which averaged 29.3 points per game over that span.
That was the Redskins, who never had an offense finish better than 10th in scoring under McVay. On Sunday, the Eagles will be tasked with slowing the No. 1 scoring offense in the NFL — which is tied only with their own.
The Rams' offense is a talented bunch to begin with. Jared Goff is proving worthy of the first overall draft choice last year. Ranked second with 1,502 yards from scrimmage and tied for first with 11 total touchdowns, running back Todd Gurley is a legitimate MVP candidate. The front office added legitimate weapons at wide receiver in Sammy Watkins, Cooper Kupp and Robert Woods. The offensive line is among the league's most improved units.
It's also been a remarkable turnaround from last season, when the Rams finished dead last in both scoring offense and total yards, with much of the same personnel in place. McVay's impact is real.
You don't need to tell the Eagles that. In Washington, McVay's offenses averaged 427.0 yards per game in six meetings — 284.3 through the air, 141.0 on the ground. To put those numbers in perspective, the Redskins' offense would've been a top-five unit in all three categories if they played the Eagles every week.
Three times, the Eagles surrendered 493 yards or more of total offense to Washington. Twice, the Redskins gained over 200 yards on the ground alone. The Eagles never held Washington to fewer than 23 points, 305 yards of total offense or 84 yards rushing.
Granted, the Eagles weren't exactly a defensive powerhouse between 2014 and 2015, routinely finishing at or near the bottom of the league in most major categories. Even last season, under defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz, the defense was middle of the pack.
Times have changed. The Eagles have since transformed into one of the best defenses in the NFL. Schwartz's unit ranks third in total yards allowed (293.2), sixth in points per game (17.9), third in takeaways (22), and No. 1 against the run (68.1) in 2017.
Last season, the Redskins averaged 27.0 points, 413.5 total yards and 163.5 yards on the ground with two total turnovers in two tangos with Scwhartz's defense. Things may not come that easy for McVay this time around.
At least the Eagles hope not. Despite having a division title and a playoff spot all but wrapped up, this will be an important test. Though 10-2, the Eagles have beaten only one team with a winning record. Furthermore, home-field advantage and a first-round bye in the postseason are still on the table, and at 9-3, the Rams are one of the teams vying for both. A loss in Los Angeles would make it extremely difficult for the Eagles to secure either.
Yet, solving McVay's offense may also be easier said than done. The Rams are the best offense the Eagles have seen all season, led by a coach who has had their number in years past.
It's going to be a test of where the Eagles stand in the NFC hierarchy and of the progress they've made as a defense. Because if past experience is any indicator, the matchup with McVay is one that looks worrisome.