After a deplorable showing on Monday Night Football, the Los Angeles Rams will have even more on their plate as they invite the Seattle Seahawks to the first game at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum in almost 22 years. In order for them to find success, there are several key points they will need to address and execute.
Los Angeles Rams Week Two Keys to Victory
The Rams displayed a horrendously ineffective offense last week, due mainly to their poor blocking. This was seen all across the field from linemen to wide receivers, and it cannot continue in any form.
Star running back Todd Gurley was held to an unacceptable average of 2.8 yards per rush. Blocks were crumbling in front of him, forcing the reigning Rookie of the Year to cut back into a swarm of deep red jerseys and being swallowed up every time. There is a lot of experimentation at the guard position, but both Cody Wichmann and Rodger Saffold were consistently losing their blocks after strong starts, thus letting the San Francisco 49ers front seven clog any room for Gurley to penetrate. Some of the most crippling misses came from tight ends Lance Kendricks and Tyler Higbee, who will need to step up run blocking to unleash Gurley’s talent and production in week two.
The Rams also like to run the ball with receiver Tavon Austin, especially on end-arounds, and every defense knows this. Thus the Rams cannot be reliant on his speed and carry ability for those breakaway runs. Instead, they will need to emphasize strong blocking from all positions on the field.
The fact is that Seattle will be bringing in a stronger, smarter, and faster front seven this week. Neutralizing those threats will be the difference between a resurgence and another disappointing loss.
On the Los Angeles defense, middle linebacker Alec Ogletree will need to gather his squad together and focus on a strong union on the field. Last week, the defensive line was bullied all night and quarterback Blaine Gabbert ran for multiple debilitating first downs with no defender in the middle to even threaten him.
The unit that includes some of the best linemen in this league cannot be pushed around this week. Seattle’s offensive line is a weak unit that can be beaten on all sides, as seen last week against the Miami Dolphins, a defense that sacked Russell Wilson three times and essentially shut down the running threat. The Rams have more talent on their defensive line and will be expected to break through the trenches often this Sunday.
The Seahawks also began their game plan with a horizontal passing game, a strategy that ate up the Rams in week one. Only this time, the receivers will be much faster and have much better hands. In this regard, the secondary will need to be ready to cover both under passes and the deep threat. This will be much easier if linemen like Aaron Donald and Michael Brockers can put pressure on Wilson.
Also, if the front seven had problems with Blaine Gabbert rushing, they will need to spend a lot of time in the film room to prepare for Russell Wilson, who even with a sore ankle will be sure to tuck-and-run a few times if the Rams manage to establish good coverage.
Like him or not, Case Keenum will be the starting quarterback on Sunday, and if he thought the 49ers were hard to read, he will be in for an even more challenging defense from Seattle. On Monday night, his nerves were on full display as he made some of the most terrible reads of the week.
There were times when his receivers were not doing him any favors, as well. For example, on one play tight end Tyler Higbee ran an in route and stood under the five-yard marker, allowing himself to be hassled by the cover man the entire time and thus dropped his target and failed to draw a flag.
Receivers will need to play smart football, run crisp routes, and play aggressively to make sure the passing game finds footing early and throughout. Wide receiver Kenny Britt excelled in his slant routes throughout the night, so that may be something Los Angeles will want to develop this week.
The Rams should also look into adding some complication to their passing plays. The receiver routes were very simple and San Francisco had no problems marking them. They showed a lot of lone wide outs and spread formations. They might take a page out of the Pittsburgh Steelers playbook and stack receivers in bunch trips formations then split the defenders through the routes to create space and a little confusion in the secondary.
Yes, the Rams had a terrible performance in week one, but a lot of the errors were pure sloppiness. These are problems that can be fixed quickly and effectively. Seattle had a poor playing week as well, and history has shown that the Rams always give them trouble and with the new field advantage, they may have the scales tipped in their favor. If Los Angeles can address specific issues, they have the talent to pull out a home victory against a slow-starting Seahawks team. Execution is key and a little focus and four quarters of smart football can send any team back on their plane with a loss.