Three Key Matchups For Rams At Washington

FedEx Field, Home Of The Washington Football Team.
FedEx Field, Home Of The Washington Football Team.

The Rams have made it to a well-deserved 3-1 record, with only a three-point loss to the undefeated Buffalo Bills to dwell on. The defense is clicking, and the offense is pulling out old tricks from the backfield to help Goff and the passing game benefit from some Sean McVay playbook momentum.

Second in the NFC West to the Seahawks, the Rams must go into Washington with a commanding performance needed to convince viewers that their sluggish, uninspired performance against the Giants in Week 4 was not a flash of 2019 Rams football.

With no wiggle room to let this contest escape them, the Rams must win against the Washington Football Team — led by a more than capable coach in Ron Rivera and having to devise a defensive strategy to not get caught off guard by Kyle Allen’s debut in Washington.

After playing Washington, the next eight games are a schedule nightmare with only two teams in the next 11 games currently having a losing record (Week 8 @ Miami Dolphins, Week 14 @ New York Jets) with the other nine teams including the following: Arizona Cardinals (2x), Seahawks (2x), 49ers (2x) Buccaneers, Patriots, and Bears.

No team is to be taken lightly with an outlook toward that gauntlet of a football game. By focusing on the following three matchups, the Rams will be able to tidy up the right units and lead them to a Week 5 victory.

Three Key Matchups For Rams At Washington

Chase Young And The Washington Defensive Line vs. Rams Offensive Line

A true damper on LA’s streak of passable protection for Jared Goff this season would be the return of rookie defensive end Chase Young, whose 2.5 sacks, and 1 forced fumble through two full games has added a formidable element to facing the Washington Football Team. The No. 2 overall pick from the 2020 draft is truly living up to the stellar potential bred by his dominance at Ohio State. With Ryan Kerrigan, Da’Ron Payne, and Montez Sweat under Ron Rivera’s adept guidance of defense, Washington can win this matchup against an offensive line that could not fully contain a weakened Giants defensive unit.

Factoring Young into Sunday’s contest, containment of the Rams backfield can test Sean McVay to start slinging the ball and testing Ronald Darby and Kendall Fuller — the latter coming into the game with an 80.2 PFF rating. With Robert Woods, Cooper Kupp, and Josh Reynolds to challenge the secondary, we’ll take the Rams receiving corps to win that matchup as long as Goff can stay away from Young and the rest of the d-line.

Terry McLaurin vs. Rams Secondary

Catching 10 passes for 118 yards against the Ravens, Terry McLaurin is off to a great start to capitalize on his 919 yards as a receiver with a developing Haskins to catch from. Now that the quarterback switch has been in favor of former Ron Rivera pupil Kyle Allen, it’ll be difficult to gauge the level of production worth expecting from the team’s star receiver. You just hate to see talented receivers on bad teams …

Going 5-8  in 13 games and only throwing for over 300 yards in two of those contests, Kyle Allen’s trust with Rivera must run deep because of the quarterback’s lack of edge over Haskins on the stat chart. Then again, the benching may just have something to do with that and some verbal hubris along the way, but we’ll leave that to the sporty, non-sport sites.

Rams fans can now rest easy knowing their secondary is playing at levels inching toward the prime Talib-Peters days. Jalen Ramsey always comes to ball and Troy Hill is shaping up to be the corner that we had hoped to see dating back to 2015 when the Rams signed him in St. Louis. Unless the quarterback switch results as the magic elixir that will make Washington’s myriad of problems go away, the Rams secondary may be giving “Scary Terry” nightmares before and after the game.

Rams Backfield’s Identity

Picking the lead running back for the Rams has turned into a true game of roulette. After letting Darrell Henderson run for over 100 yards against the Bills on 20 carries, to cutting his carries to 8 compared to 9 for Malcolm Brown against New York has given fans whiplash and hopefully the case for opposing defensive coordinators.

With Cam Akers looking to return from a rib injury, the back-by-committee approach may get even muddier for all three backs and especially for Darrell Henderson, who became a trending name to keep as the starting running back but was rightfully pushed against by a previous article rather than giving in to the momentary hype.

If you expect Sean McVay to stick to one option and ride it until the final game of the season, then you have not been watching this regime closely. McVay’s like an octopus, he’s got eight of everything — or so it appears. The options at wide receiver and tight end delivered by Les Snead cater to McVay’s desire to trick defenses with a death by a thousand cuts approach rather than a sole hammer trying to beat away at opposing offenses in a one-trick scheme. Hopefully, the following weeks are a better look at the status of this backfield compared to the previous four weeks.