Thursday’s matchup with the Minnesota Vikings felt like a blast from the past, circa 1999. It was kind of like a Jason Statham movie: nonstop action that almost seemed too ridiculous to be true.
Here’s a few observations from field level at the Colisium, as my head was spinning:
The Rams need more pressure from the edge. Though the sack totals are down, the push up the middle has been fairly obvious this season. Aaron Donald remains an orca among seals. However, there wasn’t consistent pressure off the edge on Thursday night to contain Kirk Cousins. Consequently, Cousins was able to drift out of the back of the pocket often, giving him a little more time to distribute the ball his stable of receivers.
Samson Ebukam has been fairly effective this season, but the other side of the rush is still a work in progress. EDGE Matt Longacre has been mostly ineffective so far, and it’s hard to tell how much his training camp injuries have affected his play. When healthy, Dominique Easley is an intriguing option, though he’s not exactly a pass rush specialist type. Other options include rookie Trevon Young or Ogbonnia Okoronkwo when he recovers from a foot surgery that he had back in May.
Another thought is that Wade Phillips may decide to send more blitzes, sending guys like Marqui Christian and Mark Barron to benefit from all the attention that Donald, Suh, and Brockers command.
Johnny Hekker has been a bit off. Not that he’s had to punt very often, but there were a couple opportunities to make things tough on the Vikings offense Thursday, and Johnny just didn’t do his thing. Blame it on the thick night air? Maybe. It seems unlikely that his struggles will last, but it’s worth keeping an eye on, because normally he’s such an assassin for the Rams special teams.
And on the bright side...
The Rams offense has so many ways to wear out a defense. Whether it’s the Todd Gurley setting things up for some play action, or it’s the aggressive passing attack that sets up the pins for Gurley, Sean McVay is simply playing mind-games with defensive coordinators so far. Formations that serve as launch pads, a smattering of jet sweeps, Goff and McVay diagnosing things at the line; it’s like a three-ring circus, and the defenders are the clowns so far. Have a bucket of confetti Gus Bradley!
It’s a joy to watch the Rams offensive line get out in front of plays. The heavies clearly delight in the opportunity to steamroll linebackers and defensive backs downfield. Here are a couple clips of tackle Andrew Whitworth and guard Rodger Saffold wrecking shop.
4-0, with a never-to-be-slept on divisional matchup in Seattle up next.
On to the second quarter of the season!