Last week, the Eagles got a reality check when another late rally fell short and they suffered their first loss of 2014. The Eagles get a chance to bounce back against the St. Louis Rams on Sunday.
All signs point toward the Eagles finding a way to succeed. On paper, they are significantly better than the Rams. But these games are always tricky and the Eagles have to prove that the team that failed to take the lead needing just a yard to improve to 4-0 can get back on track.
Here are this week’s six keys to the game.
Early start – The Eagles finally had the start they were looking for when they took an early 7-0 lead against the 49ers last Sunday – albeit on a blocked punt – and held a 21-13 lead at the half. It was the second half and overall lack of offense that did them in. A strong start and an early lead in what could certainly become a trap game will be crucial.
Nick Foles – Whatever has been hurting Nick Foles has to stop. Yes, he may be battling a potential health issue due to the beating he’s taken in the first four games, but that aside, he hasn’t fared well in finding open receivers. Foles was Mr. Automatic last season. That quarterback has to show up eventually for the Eagles to emerge as a true contender again.
Lane Johnson – Finally back in the lineup, Johnson falls right into an already battered offensive line. The Eagles need to protect Foles and give LeSean McCoy room to work with. Johnson is going to play a big part in the result of their success on Sunday.
Will the real Shady stand up – LeSean McCoyhas got to get it together and start this week. For the Eagles to really move forward, it will take a balanced attack. But it’s easy to get one-dimensional when your all-pro running back can’t get anything going. McCoy should be able to run right past his previous performances of the last two weeks early in this game, facing the 30th ranked rushing defense.
Malcolm Jenkins and the Eagles secondary – In 17 straight games, the Eagles have forced a turnover. Malcolm Jenkins has been a big part of that this season. Who knows what he does next. But while you’re waiting, look for any member of the secondary to step up in a big spot during the game. This is a pretty unseasoned quarterback in Austin Davis so chances are a couple turnovers are definitely up for grabs.
Rookie receivers – Jordan Matthews had a huge game the last time the Eagles took the field at Lincoln Financial Field. Josh Huff, who would be getting his first action of the season and of his career, will likely join him. With two young receivers in the mix, look for Foles to target both regularly while a lot of the focus is drawn to Jeremy Maclin and Zach Ertz.
Kevin Durso is a contributor for Eagledelphia. Follow him on Twitter @KDursoPhilsNet.