The Green Bay Packers at 3-2-1 travel to the comfy confines of Southern California to face off against our undefeated Los Angeles Rams this Sunday. The weather is expected to be a nice warm 89 degrees. Quite different to the normal conditions the Packers play in Milwaukee’s October where it could dip into the 30s on Sunday evening...
The reason I became a diehard Ram fan started on a December day back in 1967. I was 9-years old. The Rams needed a victory against the Packers in order to have a chance to make the playoffs. Things were bleak. It was so bad that my uncle, a diehard Packer fan, my mom and I decided with little time left on the clock to leave the Coliseum in order beat the traffic.
That’s a normal thing to do if you live in Southern California, especially if our team is losing. As we were leaving while we walking down tunnel 22, I was crying. My Rams weren’t gonna make the playoffs. Then all of sudden a giant roar enveloped us. People stopped. Those ahead of us looked back towards the field. Everyone knew something huge had just happened. Everyone in the tunnel ran back towards the field. I couldn’t see through or over the people packed like sardines, so my Uncle grabbed me and put me on his shoulders. He looked to the right and asked the fan, standing on the stairs, to explain what happened.
“The Rams blocked the punt! The Rams blocked the punt!”
Yes, indeed the Rams had blocked the punt putting them in a position to score a touchdown and win the game.
QB Roman Gabriel went back to pass looking to the end zone for WR Bernie Casey...TOUCHDOWN RAMS!
That moment is a memory which not only remains etched in mind; it forever changed my life. I became a fanatical Rams fan living my life vicariously through the team’s victories and defeats. Vince Lombardi, the coach of the Packers, called it one of his greatest games he coached in, and his team lost.
To this day, I proudly wear the white and blue of #88, Tony Guillory the player responsible for blocking the punt. It was a play that changed the course of the franchise propelling Head Coach George Allen into stardom and remains for me the most significant moment of my life.
With all that said, it’s hard for me to dislike the Packers. After all, they were the team that changed the course of my life as a Rams fan!
I’ve seen many great games between these two storied franchises. Who could forget DE Fred Dryer getting two safeties in one game on back-to-back Packers drives in the Coliseum? Or the Rams making HOF QB Brett Favre look pedestrian on the road to the Super Bowl in the playoffs? But the Packers remain Lombardi’s legacy. He remains in my opinion the greatest coach who ever coached the game on the list even above New England Patriots HC Bill Belichick.
But the days of three yards and cloud of dust are long gone.
Today, the game of football is all about passing. This week, what better chance to see this then watch Packers QB Aaron Rodgers compete with our franchise QB, Jared Goff.
What the Rams need to do on offense
The Rams’ offense is a powerhouse. This week, Goff needs to be accurate. The Rams’ offensive line needs to keep him clean, off the grass and they need to open holes for RB Todd Gurley.
If the Rams’ offense can score points in bunches up against a porous Packers defense, as they will need to do with Rodgers operating things when they have the ball, the Rams will win the game.
But that’s the easy part. The hard part is...
What the Rams’ defense needs to do
The Rams’ defense must follow-up their stellar performance of last week against the San Francisco 49ers with an equally stellar performance against this week.
Teams that try to control Rodgers are destined to lose. Rodgers can’t be controlled. He can be contained. What makes Rodgers one of the greatest quarterbacks in any era is his accuracy. Even when the coverage is there, he finds to a way to pinpoint the ball into the receiver’s hands. This is what separates Rodgers from the every other quarterback in the league—the ability to buy just enough time to get off a pass which only his receivers can catch like threading a needle.
But even Aaron Rodgers can be stopped, and it all starts with rushing the quarterback.
The Rams must get edge pressure on Rodgers. Without an edge rush, it’s not gonna be enough to get pressure from the just the Fearsome Threesome. DT Aaron Donald had a career day against the Niners last week, but Rodgers is not C.J. Beathard. With a legitimate edge rush threat, Rodgers will have to stay in the pocket unable to buy time with his feet. The Rams’ defensive front needs to close in on him, surrounding him as the pocket collapses, and down goes Rodgers.
This works only if the Rams’ secondary maintains coverage. The Rams’ corners and safeties must blanket Rodgers targets: TE Jimmy Graham and WRs Randall Cobb and Davante Adams.
The Rams’ defense, as good as its getting, isn’t going to be able to control Rodgers, but they can confine him keeping the Packers’ offense to more three-and-outs than the Rams’ offense. By accomplishing this, the Rams can keep the Packers’ ability to score down. If not, it’s going be any team’s ball game.
The more confidence Rodgers gains when the Rams aren’t able to put pressure on him, the more chances he will take to make the big plays fans are accustomed to seeing from him.
What the Rams need to do on special teams
KR Blake Countess and PR JoJo Natson need to give the Rams big returns as they can momentum changers. Long drives, chewing up clock, leading to a score of either three or six, will keep Rodgers’ offense off the field. But the shorter the distance to the goalline, the better chance to score. And the Rams are going to need points more than keeping Rodgers sidelined.
P Johnny Hekker needs to get out his funk with punts that pin the Packers deep to make the Packers work the longer distance to the goal.
PK Greg Zuerlein has to make each and every field goal, no matter what the distance. This is imperative, since missing a long one will give Rodgers too good a field position which he take advantage of.
Rams HC Sean McVay’s ability to adjust his schemes tailoring it to the what defenses show him while maintaining his aggressiveness is what makes him one of the best coaches in the league.
The Rams will probably be without WR Cooper Kupp in this game as he was last week. I don’t see this as major x-factor as the Rams are extremely talented at the wide receiver position regardless of who Goff throws to, whether its WR Robert Woods, Brandin Cooks or Kupp’s replacements in Nick Williams or Josh Reynolds
The weather will be beautiful, and the Coliseum is expected to be near capacity for the showdown between these former Cal quarterbacks. I expect to see a large contingent of green and yellow cheese heads blocking my view at the game. It’s therefore imperative that Angelenos be loud and raucous in support of our team! I don’t want to have a repeat of that 1967 game since the Dodgers will hopefully be playing in the fifth game of the World Series at Dodger Stadium starting around 5:00 pm located within minutes of the Coliseum with the series tied at two a piece.
After all this is Los Angeles. We need a blow out so I can leave early and beat the traffic the way my uncle and I meant to!