How The Rams Can Neutralize Russell Wilson
In most fans’ opinion, Russell Wilson is the frontrunner for MVP of the 2020 NFL season after what felt like a snub last year. With sophomore receiver, D.K. Metcalf stepping up and exceeding his role as WR1, and Tyler Lockett still maintaining his status as an upper-echelon WR2, Wilson’s supporting cast has helped him reach a 71% completion rate, 117.1 QB rating, and a 28-8 TD:INT ratio halfway through the season. The expectations for Seattle still land on his shoulders after another year of an abysmal Seattle defense (32nd in the league against the pass).
As the Rams prepare to face the NFL’s MVP through nine weeks in a must-win divisional matchup for the top spot in the NFC West, Los Angeles must be prepared to not only contain Wilson for a victory on Sunday but also lay out a blueprint for other defenses to figure out the quarterback and help improve the Rams’ chances of winning their division—similar to Arizona’s win in Week 6 that forced three interceptions on Wilson. If the Rams can neutralize Wilson this weekend, it’ll be a needed loss for the Seahawks as they face below-average competition for the rest of the season and would surrender a tiebreaker to the Rams.
Rams’ defensive coordinator Brandon Staley must focus on three keys areas of the Seahawks offensive game plan to neutralize Wilson, knowing a win in Seattle will undoubtedly propel Los Angeles back into the conversation of Super Bowl contention.
Take Advantage of the Injured Backfield
Carlos Hyde has been an exceptional complementary piece to Chris Carson’s mild success this season, however, both players have made appearances on the injury report this past week and have been ruled out for Sunday’s contest.
Carson (averaging 4.9 yards a carry) and Hyde (4.0) have been a dual-threat tandem by providing support for Wilson through the air as well (both players posting 85%+ catch rates throughout the year).
As a quarterback whose mind for the game meticulously fills in the gaps made by improvisational football while on the run or when a play breaks down, the Rams’ linebacker corps will have to be keen to stop drop-offs and scramble plays that involve fill in RB DeeJay Dallas. Pressuring Wilson to leave the pocket without support from his running backs can be their recipe to forcing fourth downs and turnovers.
The true standout has been Williams’s solid coverage that has resulted in a 73.7 PFF grade.
Limit Seattle’s Receiving Corps
As the best thrower of the deep ball all year, Wilson is able to open up a defense by connecting with Lockett and Metcalf down the field, which makes their combined 1,403 receiving yards through nine weeks a problem for any defensive game plan. Rams defensive coordinator Brandon Staley has shaped his cornerbacks to be an assisting component to Los Angeles’ elite defense but not a unit to stand on its own.
Troy Hill (56.5 PFF grade) and Jalen Ramsey (72.6) combine for two interceptions and will maintain control of the slot, but the true difference-maker will have to be Darious Williams. Most fans expected Troy Hill’s breakout to come this season after Nickell Robey-Coleman’s move to Philadelphia, but the true standout has been Williams’s solid coverage that has resulted in a 73.7 PFF grade. Between Williams and Ramsey, Seattle will meet their toughest challenge of the year with a talented safety group containing the sneaky presence of a TE group including Will Dissly and Greg Olsen.
Contain Wilson Through Seattle’s Lackluster Offensive Line
Without starting center Ethan Pocic, Seattle’s bruised offensive line will be missing another piece as they figure a way to stop Aaron Donald, Michael Brockers, and the engulfing Los Angeles defensive line. Wilson’s best intangible ability is to evade the rush and facilitate deep balls on the run, but if the Rams find a way to pressure Wilson and force him into finding success through short, quick passes, Seattle may find themselves with an uphill battle on offense to overcompensate for their awful defense. The Rams are ready for an offensive duel and the team to win may be the one that forces a punt first.