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It’s too soon for victory laps after Rams dominate in Week 1

Matthew Stafford looks rejuvenated. Aaron Donald is healthy. Rams defense stifled Seahawks’ potent passing game.

Los Angeles Rams v Seattle Seahawks Photo by Steph Chambers/Getty Images

The Los Angeles Rams dominated the Seattle Seahawks on the road to kickoff the 2023 season. Fans of the team should certainly appreciate the victory, especially after enduring talk of “tanking” for USC QB Caleb Williams and about how LA is rebuilding its roster.

Relish the victory for now, because we still really have no idea what the remainder of the new campaign has in store for the Rams. Such a handily defeat of the Seahawks could be a sign of things to come, but it could also be an outlier as we continue to learn more about the team over the course of the next 16 regular season games.

These are three reasons why it’s too soon for victory laps as it relates to the 2023 Rams and multiple individual performances:

Week 1 is generally an outlier in the NFL

It’s natural to overreacted to the season opener for each team. We can’t really put much weight into the preseason, especially considering more and more teams are holding out key players. Week 1 is all the information we have to go off of currently, but the next 16 games may prove that certain narratives from this past Sunday are more fiction than fact.

Just last year there were a number of outcomes that later proved to be more isolated than a measurable trend:

Chicago Bears defeating the San Francisco 49ers 19-10

The Bears would go on to secure the number one overall selection in the NFL Draft as the league’s worst team. The 49ers played their way into the NFC Championship game where Brock Purdy would suffer an UCL injury and leave San Francisco short-handed.

Pittsburgh Steelers and Mitch Trubisky beat Joe Burrow and the Cincinnati Bengals

The Seahawks are probably better than they showed Sunday against the Rams, and they will have plenty of time to right their course. It’s also possible that LA is due for some regressions. These are the outcomes from Week 1 2023 that may be viewed as outliers in hindsight:

The Bengals continue to struggle in Week 1, lost to Cleveland Browns 24-3

Baker Mayfield and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers beat the Minnesota Vikings 20-17

Steelers looked wholly unprepared against the 49ers en route to 30-7 final score

Matthew Stafford looked healthy and rejuvenated

but for how long will that be the case?

Stafford was as efficient and surgical as he’s ever been over his time in Los Angeles. He didn’t exactly light up the box score as all three of LA’s touchdowns came on the ground, but his 24 completions for 334 yards without taking a single sack is nothing to scoff at.

The veteran’s performance surpassed my expectations for him, and it’s fun to watch Stafford play at his best. I just think it’s too soon to expect this level of play from him for the rest of the season. He’s battled nicks and lingering injuries since he’s been with the Rams, and there will be games where the offensive line has difficulty keeping him upright. That might come next week when the 49ers travel to SoFi Stadium.

At age 35 Stafford impressed in the season opener. The Rams must keep him well-protected and unscathed to maintain his clean bill of health for as long as possible.

It was a tale of two halves for LA’s defense

Completions generally came easy for Geno Smith and the Seahawks offense in the first half. The Rams weren’t getting a lot of pressure and Smith was able to find the open man underneath. Seattle converted a wide open touchdown to DK Metcalf over cornerback Derion Kendrick.

But then their two offensive tackles, Charles Cross and Abraham Lucas, left the game with injury and the Rams defense took control. To LA’s benefit, they were protecting a lead—something not often afforded to them last season. The pass rushers, led by Aaron Donald and inclusive of Byron Young, Kobie Turner, and Michael Hoecht, started to tee off on Smith with the backup linemen in the game and defending a one-dimensional offense. The coverage was sticky and the Rams defensive backs made catches difficult for the Seattle receivers.

Would the results have looked much different if Cross and Abraham stayed healthy? We may never get an answer to that question. When there are such stark differences between halves, the truth probably lies somewhere in between.

It’s probably more fair to expect the defense to play more like they did in the first half than the second moving forward—but there still remains much to learn about this Los Angeles defense.