First Win Will Evade Rams In Week 2 Against Seahawks
Another week, another divisional game, and the Los Angeles Rams find themselves out of the frying pan, and going into the fire.
Since the Monday night drubbing thanks to an unimpressive San Francisco 49ers team, it’s been difficult to find any optimism around this Los Angeles Rams team. The offense is bland, the defense is weak, and the strongest muscle the Rams have is their punt team, which they flexed all night during their Week One game.
This week, there is a slight bit of hope. The Rams are playing at home, they are playing the Seattle Seahawks, a team they swept during the 2015 season, and the team is wearing their blue-and-yellow throwback threads: the recipe for a win to get back on track, right?
Seattle is still pretty good
Like the San Francisco 49ers, this year’s Seattle Seahawks team is not looking all that impressive, either. But unlike the 49ers, this Seattle team is still a solid team with a strong amount of talented playmakers on both sides of the ball.
Last week, Russell Wilson led the team to a comeback win against the Miami Dolphins. Throughout the game, Wilson looked rather stiff, especially when it came to running around or out of the pocket to avoid the pass-rush.
That stiffness led to a very tough day. He was sacked three times, hit nine times, and when throwing the ball away to keep a collapsing play going, he threw his first interception of the season. To top it off, Wilson sprained his ankle in the third quarter of the game.
Still, Wilson did enough when it counted to lead his team more than 80 yards down the field for the game-winning drive.
The ankle sprain is not bad enough to keep Wilson out this week. Head Coach Pete Carroll said Wilson is expected to start after participating in practices this week.
Break for Rams run-defense?
Thomas Rawls is coming off ankle surgery from the offseason. Christine Michael got the start during the home opener, while Rawls played back-up and coming in for about 27 percent of the team’s snaps. He finished the day with 32 carries (2.7 yards-a-carry).
This week, Rawls will get the start.
What killed the Rams last week was the combined running-attack from Blaine Gabbert and the pair of 49ers running backs in Carlos Hyde and Shaun Draughn. This week, the Rams could see a bit of a break in the Seahawks running game.
Yes, the Seahawks did gain 112 yards on the ground, but the team’s top rushers from last season are either retired (Marshawn Lynch), injured or coming off an injury.
However, the Rams front seven was expected to be at least a Top-5 unit this season, and they allowed Gabbert, Hyde, and Draughn to run all over them. There were several instances when the front four would overshoot their gaps to create a horseshoe-like pocket around the quarterback with linebackers dropping back into coverage, leaving a massive amount of running room for the quarterback.
The Rams failed to consistently shut down running lanes or block open spaces between the linemen, and the 49ers took full advantage of what the Rams gave them.
On one of their rushing touchdowns, Draughn ran the ball outside the left tackle after the B gap was blocked. Instead of keeping the outside contain, Eugene Sims crashed inwards and was unable to cut back and grab Draughn, who stiff-armed T.J. McDonald and trotted into the end-zone.
The Seahawks have one of the worst offensive lines in the league, the Rams of course having the worst. If the pass-rush needed a week to jump start their slow start, now is the time. The Dolphins managed to get Wilson down three times last week, thanks to their defensive end Mario Williams keeping his outside contain to keep Wilson in the pocket.
But could this Rams' defense make a complete 180-change in less than a week?
A home victory is a tall order this week
Under the Fisher regime, the Rams have always played the Seahawks consistently tough, especially when the Rams are at home.
That may change this week, and this season for that matter.
As long as they are on the same team, no matter what the team’s record is, the defensive back group consisting of Richard Sherman, Earl Thomas, and Kam Chancellor will always be lethal and unforgiving against the passing game.
At one point in their game last week, Miami was ahead of the Seahawks, and before a fourth-down conversion to save the game, it looked like the Dolphins were going to win. They were going to beat the Seahawks with only 186 yards of passing and 64 yards on the ground.
The Rams couldn’t even throw the ball more than 130 yards in Week One against a 49ers defense that is not all that impressive. It’s easier to stop an offense when you know what they’re going to run.
The Seahawks defense had a few lucky breaks in that Week One contest (see: Kenny Stills), but regardless; if the Rams thought Monday night was rough, Sunday afternoon is going to be a lot worse.
The Seahawks put up five sacks against the Dolphins, and if the Rams offensive line continues to play as poorly as they have, the Seahawks can expect to get at least five on Sunday, with plenty of potential to get more.