Rams Vs. Seahawks: 4 Big Takeaways From Week 1

Rams vs. Seahawks Week 1

Just as everyone predicted, the Rams went into Seattle and beat them 30-13. It turns out the Rams are not going to flop to the ground like Ric Flair. They are here to play and do so with toughness and efficiency. Their victory demonstrated that Sean McVay’s overhaul of the coaching staff has worked and he was serious when he aimed to make them a tougher, more physical team while being efficient.

Gone were the BIG EXPLOSIVE plays that McVay aimed for when he first got Matthew Stafford and the offense has gone back to its 2017 roots. There were many aspects of this game that turned heads (and surely upset the gambling community) but here are the four biggest takeaways from week one’s incredible victory.

The Offensive Line Can Block Again

This time last year the Rams’ were already in an existential crisis as to what their offense could actually do as they immediately lost Andrew Whitworth‘s heir, Joseph Noteboom. The injuries would, of course, snowball in the ensuing weeks leaving Stafford beaten like the Krusty Burglar. Despite this offensive line combination not playing much in the pre-season or camp, they had the second-highest grade for all teams in week one.

Stafford was not sacked once and was only hit twice. Rookie Steve Avila was an absolute MONSTER and didn’t allow a single pressure. That’s night and day from last year. The run blocking wasn’t as strong as the pass blocking, but the line led the Rams’ offense to control the clock with 39:23 minutes of possession to Seattle’s 20:37 and the Rams’ 426 total yards was only second to the Dolphins total of 536. They also were 11-17 on third down which is a dramatic improvement from last year, and only punted ONCE. That doesn’t happen if the line can’t keep it moving.

Furthermore, McVay trusted his offense enough to allow a fourth and goal to put the game away when a year ago he’d have kicked a field goal in a heartbeat. The line faces the equivalent of the Vulcan Kahs-wan test when they take on San Francisco’s gargantuan defense.

Matthew Stafford Isn’t Washed

Maybe he was tired of the putdowns, maybe he read all the pre-season quarterback rankings and saw him ranked below the likes of Justin Fields, or maybe he just had time to throw, but he served a Jay-Z-level reminder that he’s still got it. He didn’t win anyone’s fantasy leagues but his 24/38 passing with 334 yards and no turnovers is a sign that maybe the Rams don’t need to tank to get an elite QB next year.

It turns out that when you give him time he can make magic happen. The throws he was making evoked the incredible throws he made two seasons ago and he was doing it without Cooper Kupp as his security blanket. Stafford fed the much-maligned Tutu Atwell 6 catches for 119 yards including a 44-yard bomb.

Despite reports he couldn’t relate to the yutes, he targeted rookie Puka Nacua 15 times for 10 catches and 119 yards. The duo of Tutu and Puka were absolutely dynamic against a Seattle secondary that was expected to make a big leap in year two. Stafford’s newfound agility was also on display as he was moving around the pocket but not under duress. He looked freer than he’s looked in quite some time and he didn’t have any turnovers because the offense didn’t force him into any bad throws.

NFL: Los Angeles Rams at Seattle Seahawks
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The Running Game Is Coming Back

Fantasy owners would disagree but the Rams’ running game is working again. Yes, they only tallied 92 total yards between Cam Akers and second-year back Kyren Williams. That said, they still outrushed Seattle who only had 85 yards (more on that later). Unlike last year, the Rams were able to actually move the ball on the ground and actually WANTED to run the ball.

They implemented motion at the line and the Seahawks weren’t able to predict what the Rams were going to do depending on who was in the backfield. The running backs were also responsible for all three Ram touchdowns with Kyren Williams scoring two of them. The blocking wasn’t as efficient from the running game but Akers and Williams were still able to move the chains when needed and while those yards will be tougher to come by in week two, the fact remains that the emphasis is on controlling the clock rather than trying to bomb it. Cam Akers also didn’t fumble the ball which is an absolute victory.

The Defense Didn’t Break

It looked scary in the beginning, but the Rams’ defense held it together against an offense that can be explosive and can eat the clock. Derion Kendrick gave up the lone Seattle touchdown which was a gimme to DK Metcalf but other than that the young secondary contained Metcalf and Tyler Lockett.

The Seattle running game amassed a mere 85 yards and forced Seattle to convert only 2 of 9 on third down. Given how teams could convert third downs at will last year and though it’s a small sample size, the young and inexperienced defense didn’t wilt under pressure. The stats don’t elicit the kind of praise that the Cowboys defense would (nor should it) but as a first major test on the road, the kids were alright.

They registered a total of two sacks spread across Michael Hoecht, Byron Young, Kobie Turner, and Aaron Donald. They got to Geno Smith twice as well. Ernest Jones led the way with only nine tackles which again, didn’t light the world on fire but they did their job.

The most impressive feat they accomplished was shutting Seattle out completely in the second half. That’s right, the Rams shut a team out in the second half and did so without an abundance of stars or Aaron Donald running amok (although he still got Geno Smith to yell “OH MY GOD”). There were penalties and mistakes but the mental toughness was there. Tough week for the “FIRE RAHEEM” crowd! Next week is of course going to push them to their limits with Christian McCaffrey and company so we might see the extent to which they can overcome an offense through grit and toughness.

Rams vs. Seahawks Conclusions

Week one was a tough test against a division on the road. They made a statement and while every week won’t be this fun, they are clearly not looking to tank. The offense is back to being focused on the ground but with an emphasis on winning the trenches with physicality rather than finesse. Stafford is moving around better and can zip the ball around like he’s in his prime. The defense is still a work in progress but they aren’t the pre-season unit that looked like the Little Giants at their first practice.

The biggest takeaway though is that the Rams are fun again! Whether that allows them to contend for a seventh seed or they recede into picking in the teens, everyone on the field seems to be having a great time and fans seem to be having a better time. Given the swirling squall of negativity surrounding the season, fun is all anyone could ask for.