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What We Learned: LA Rams, Week 1

One game down, so what did we find out about the Rams?

Los Angeles Rams v Oakland Raiders Photo by Robert Reiners/Getty Images

The anticipation of a new season has now lifted a bit following the Rams victory over Oakland. The Rams were poked early, and finally flexed in the second half to tame a feisty Raiders team, under the lights of a raucous Oakland Alameda Coliseum. The game was a struggle at times, but ultimately ended up being a comfortable 20-point road victory, which is never something to take for granted.

The season is still young, but a few things came into focus during Mondays action:

Teams will unload the ball quickly to help abate the Rams inside pressure. With Aaron Donald and Ndamukong Suh creating strong push straight up the gut of the pocket, Derek Carr unloaded the ball quickly and effectively, in the first half. This has often been the case in the past as well, but we should see opponents follow this blueprint even more in 2018, utilizing short drops and tosses to the flats and short crossing patterns.

Stopping skilled tight ends may be a recurring issue.

Jared Cook was a real matchup problem for the Rams, who used a variety of matchups/coverages to try to slow him. Eventually, they ended up giving the assignment to cornerback Aqib Talib. With tight ends like Kyle Rudolph, George Kittles, and Travis Kelce on the docket, the Rams will need to solve this riddle. And quickly. Hopefully inside backer Mark Barron’s return will help them in future matchups.

The Rams’ secondary is legit.

Most of the Raiders targets were to tight end Jared Cook and running back Jalen Richard, but wide receivers Amari Cooper and Jordy Nelson were virtual no-shows. The secondary played with spunk and swagger and may become the unit that defines the defense’s personality this year

Brandin Cooks will be more useful than Sammy Watkins in the Rams offense.

The Rams looked to Cooks often on Monday Night and found him in a variety of ways; a jet sweep, a couple of deep balls, out patterns, and on play action. He also drew a whopping 87 yards in pass interference penalties. The Raiders are by no means a stacked defense, but they looked hopeless at times, once the Rams got Gurley and Cooks rolling at once.

The offensive line is still the rock that any offensive success will be built on. Sans Jamon Brown, who is serving a substance abuse-related suspension, the line was utterly dominating against the Raiders. With reserve guard Austin Blythe filling in for Brown, Goff’s bodyguards allowed very little Silver-and-Black pressure at all, throughout the game. The only time that the Raiders got to Goff was on an extremely slow-developing play, when Bruce Irvin finally broke free from Rob Havenstein to force a fumble.

And about Jared Goff

Goff was off-target too often, and at times forced bad throws; but in all fairness he didn’t have a preseason to sharpen his game. Look for him to get a few more balls home this week against Arizona. In the meantime, he looked very comfortable as the captain of McVay’s offense. He had tons of time, and his body language no longer looks as a rookie-like. At the end of the day, if Goff’s roughest patch is a 20-point road-victory, with a couple of touchdowns, no picks, and a 97.2 passer rating, then the sun is shining in Ramland.

Now let’s see what Week 2 reveals…