Los Angeles Rams: Three key matchups vs. Tampa Bay

by Skyler Carlin
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Even though the Los Angeles Rams convincingly defeated the Seattle Seahawks in Week 10, some people are still skeptical of them. So what better way for the Rams to prove themselves as a legitimate contender in the NFC than to square off with Tom Brady and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers on Monday Night Football in Week 11?

Media pundits have questioned whether or not Jared Goff is limited in what he can do and that point has proven to be valid this season. While Goff has looked improved in certain areas, he’s continued to make the mistakes that have been prevalent since his first year with Sean McVay.

Nevertheless, he’ll be tested on Monday night against a Todd Bowles-called defense that isn’t afraid to make life rough on opposing quarterbacks. This is one of those games that Goff could silence his critics — at least for a week — if he were to perform well and get the Rams another win.

On the other side of the ball, Los Angeles is hoping to feed off of the energy their defense had a week ago against Seattle’s high-flying passing attack, holding Russell Wilson in check. With their upcoming game being a pivotal one, let’s take a look at a few enticing matchups that could transpire between the Rams and the Buccaneers.

Rams’ defensive front vs. Tom Brady

Similar to Goff, who excels when he has a clean pocket, the one way to rattle Brady is by getting him out of his comfort zone. The worst thing you could possibly do when facing the future first-ballot Hall of Famer is give him an ample amount of time to survey the field and pick your defense apart.

Just two weeks ago, the Buccaneers were drubbed by the New Orleans Saints on Sunday Night Football. The Saints were able to keep Brady under duress, pressuring him on 19 of his 41 dropbacks, causing him to complete only six of his 16 attempts under pressure.

The two games that Brady has been pressured the most this season — which have both come against New Orleans — Tampa Bay has lost handily. There’s no secret that the Rams need to come up with a variety of ways to rattle Brady in the pocket.

In their fantastic victory over the Seahawks, Los Angeles notched six sacks as a team on Wilson. Leonard Floyd and rookie Terrell Lewis would combine for five of the six sacks, benefitting from the attention that Aaron Donald commands.

While the Rams have been excellent at bringing the quarterback down — having the third-most sacks in the NFL with 31 — the Buccaneers have allowed only 14 sacks on Brady, which is the ninth-fewest in the league. If Los Angeles hopes to keep Tampa Bay’s multi-faceted offense at bay, they’ll need to incite pressure on Brady early and often.

Jalen Ramsey vs. Mike Evans

It seems as if every single week the Rams are facing one of the premier wide receivers in the NFL. Heading into last week’s divisional tilt with Seattle, Los Angeles was tasked with slowing down both D.K. Metcalf and Tyler Lockett.

Given his uncanny speed and size, the Rams tasked Jalen Ramsey with covering Metcalf for the majority of the game. The All-Pro cornerback would show why he’s the highest-paid player at his position by holding Metcalf to two receptions for 28 yards.

Besides Ramsey, Darious Williams had himself a game as well, intercepting two passes and making plenty of notable plays against Seattle. Williams is definitely making his name known with how he’s played alongside Ramsey this season.

Right after Ramsey performed admirably versus Metcalf, he’ll likely be given the responsibility of covering Mike Evans for a decent portion of this week’s game. While Evans isn’t putting up the numbers we’re accustomed to seeing from him, he’s still a mismatch with his 6-foot-5 frame.

Once again — cue the Bernie Sanders meme — the Rams are asking Ramsey to guard one of the better wide receivers in the NFL. Of course, with Antonio Brown and Chris Godwin also on the Buccaneers, Ramsey could cover one of them as well if they begin to cause issues for Los Angeles.

Joseph Noteboom vs. Jason Pierre-Paul

Amid the Rams’ formidable win over the Seahawks, the team suffered a costly injury to Andrew Whitworth. The veteran left tackle was still performing at an elite level this season but was carted off with what would be diagnosed as a torn MCL and PCL.

As a result, Whitworth luckily will avoid a season-ending ailment, giving him a six-to-eight week timetable to return. During Whitworth’s absence, the Rams are going to turn to Joseph Noteboom at the left tackle position.

Noteboom was a third-round selection by Los Angeles in 2018 in hopes he could be the eventual successor to Whitworth. With the Rams looking to get Whitworth back in time for a hopeful playoff run, they’ll get a good look at Noteboom down the final stretch of the season.

And in his first start at left tackle this season, he’ll be pitted against Jason Pierre-Paul. Pierre-Paul may not be the game-wrecker he once was, but he’s still leading the Buccaneers with 7.5 sacks and three forced fumbles in 2020.

As previously mentioned, Goff is at his best when he’s able to operate out of a clean pocket. If Noteboom struggles to keep Pierre-Paul off of Goff, then the Rams could be in massive trouble on primetime television.


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