Rams Matchup Advantages Will Spoil Tua’s Debut

Aaron Donald
Los Angeles Rams Defensive Lineman Aaron Donald. Photo Credit: The 621st Contingency Response Wing | Under Creative Commons License

After the Rams absolutely dominated the Bears on Monday night, the team is on a short week and has to travel to Miami for an early game against an up and coming Dolphins team. The game marks the first start for rookie QB Tua Tagovailoa and while the Rams are coming off a short week, the matchup issues presented make this a less than ideal situation. That’s not to say the Rams are a lock to win but even with two weeks to prepare the Dolphins shortcomings on the field might make it a very long day for Tua.

Matchup 1: Rams’ Running Game Vs Miami Defense

The biggest matchup advantage on offense the Rams have is that they have the 7th best rushing offense in the league and are going up against a Miami rushing defense that ranks 19th in the league in terms of rushing yards and 26th in rushing touchdowns. That means the Rams’ three-headed attack in Darrell Henderson, Malcolm Brown, and Cam Akers (if Sean McVay remembers he exists) should have a field day.

That said, McVay has been weird with playcalling as of late so there’s the possibility he zigs against that advantage and decides to have Jared Goff huck it in the air a lot because…reasons. Miami has a solid pass defense so McVay would be best served not having Jared Goff air it out if the run game has as much success as it should.

Matchup 2: Rams’ D-Line vs Dolphins O-Line

Obviously, Aaron Donald presents a massive matchup problem for any O-Line but Miami’s is a particularly bad matchup. Donald will once again command a double/triple team all day and that means it could be another chance for Michael Brockers to continue to wreak havoc in the run game and newly activated tackle A’Shawn Robinson should get some quality reps well.

Tua isn’t going to have a lot of time in the pocket to make plays so he’ll be on the run for most of the day. Miami’s run game won’t be able to bail him out much considering they rank in the bottom half of the league and the Rams rush defense is 7th in the league. Leonard Floyd should have an open pathway to get to Tua as well. Then again, the humidity might help out the Dolphins wear out this defense…

Matchup 3: Rams Secondary Vs Miami’s Receivers

As Nick Foles learned, the Rams secondary is not one to be trifled with. Jalen Ramsey got his first pick of the year against Foles and once again faces a team in Miami that is lacking in receiving talent. DeVante Parker should be blanketed by Ramsey all day leaving the rest of Miami’s receivers to make plays. The Rams did lose Terrell Burgess for the season and are without Jordan Fuller for one more week, but they have enough talent in their secondary to not give up big plays.

John Johnson, Darious Williams, and Troy Hill (yes Troy Hill) should be enough to keep Tua from lighting it up. That said, there is the possibility that the short week and humidity (the Rams are going with the Blue and Sol combo this week) could give Miami enough room to make big plays and keep drives going longer than they have too.

On paper, the matchup advantages of the Rams make for a tough day for Tua. The good news for him is he’s likely catching the Rams at the right time and at the right time of year. The Rams could come out flat as they’re looking ahead two weeks to Seattle so this feels like a classic trap game but if that isn’t the case, Tua is facing a baptismal by fire.

Aaron Donald

Los Angeles Rams Defensive Lineman Aaron Donald. Photo Credit: The 621st Contingency Response Wing | Under Creative Commons License