Well, well, well, the Rams are 1-0. Who would’ve thought!
Sean McVay does what he always does, moving to 4-0 in season openers as a head coach in the NFL. The Rams, who very few people thought could win, looked pretty sharp on offense for most of the game and looked stout on defense. The Cowboys are supposed to have one of the best offenses in the NFL and they were held to 17 points. That’s a huge confidence boost for this defensive unit that most people thought would look awful.
Now, before I dive in, I want to preface it with this — no one should overreact after week 1 of 2020. Of any NFL season, this is the one that we shouldn’t be looking too deep into things. Teams are rusty, teams made a lot of mental mistakes, teams were gassed in the second half, the list goes on. It was rough out there for a lot of guys. But, that doesn’t mean that some of the things we saw aren’t gonna be the story for the whole season. After last night’s W, I like how the Rams are looking. And, no, I’m not overreacting to the kicking unit of the Rams at all (maybe just a little).
All of the talk this offseason was about how the Rams’ backfield would fair without Todd Gurley and our first look did not disappoint. The team had 153 rushing yards, with Malcolm Brown leading the way, going for 79 yards and two scores. The Rams are going with a hot hand approach in this committee, but I expect to see Brown leading the way for the majority of the time.
Cam Akers, although his YPC wasn’t great (2.8), had a decent outing and he showed some explosiveness that gave me hope for this season. I expect him to come along as the year goes on. He had a play in the 4th quarter that reminded me of his FSU days, where he got hit immediately behind the line of scrimmage and spun out of it, turning a negative play into a positive gain. Expect more of that from him, but all in all, I love what I saw out of this backfield.
I felt the pacing of the offense was great — they ran 23 plays in the 1st quarter alone. Jared Goff was crushing the hard counts, something I’ve never really seen him excel at. The O-line looked like a completely different unit out there, which was very promising. McVay called a lot of quick passes, so that helped get the ball out of Goff’s hands, but I do think this unit improved vastly from last year. It was such a different looking offense, again showing what kind of coach Sean McVay is. He is showing that this offense is gonna be tougher to predict this season and I’m all for it.
I’ve been on record saying that the Rams’ LB corp is the biggest weakness and it showed at times; the open-field tackling was pretty brutal, Ezekiel Elliott, although bottled up for a good portion of the game, was able to get 5-6 yards straight through the middle plenty of times last night. It wasn’t a great showing, but the rest of the defense performed so well, I don’t think I’m that worried about it? I know, I’m surprised, too.
The pass rush looked stellar. Granted, Dallas was dealing with a lot of injuries up front, including one during the game, but LA looked dominant. Aaron Donald was throwing grown men around and Brockers looks just like he always has. This will be a really fun group to watch. If LAR is available on your fantasy waiver wire, I would go out and grab them.
The secondary. They made some great plays throughout this game, but I won’t lie, I was a bit disappointed with Jalen Ramsey’s performance for the better half of the game. He gave up a lot underneath and wasn’t making his typical big plays that we’re used to seeing. And then, of course, around the 5-minute mark, he did what we were waiting for and broke on an outside pass to Amari Cooper, breaking it up and forcing them to punt. It was great to see and backed up the lucrative signing; I expect plenty more of those plays throughout the year.
Missed calls –
Yeah, yeah, yeah, Dallas fans are really upset at the OPI in the 4th quarter that cost them a chance at a game-tying FG. But no one was too upset when Aldon Smith turned Jared Goff’s helmet sideways, causing the 3rd quarter INT that led to Dallas’ only points of the second half. It was just as big of a play as the Gallup catch. So, just as I reacted in 2018 to the no-call in New Orleans, I’ll say the same thing here — if you’re upset about the OPI call, then I want that same energy for the missed call on Goff. Do I think Jalen gave a little budge to help with this call? I wouldn’t say no. Do I think the Aldon Smith no-call was broad as day? No question. So, not to sound Tom Petty here, but I think you can say it’s a wash. Moving on!
All in all, as I said in my article a few weeks ago, I think a lot of people are in for a big surprise with the 2020 LA Rams. Buckle up!