After a disappointing 2019 campaign, the Rams are looking to make a comeback.
In 2018 they made it to the Super Bowl; the next season, they narrowly miss the playoffs.
The offense and defense didn’t look like its Super Bowl self last year, but they look primed for another run in week one.
There were questions after 2019, and the Rams’ week one match up with the Dallas Cowboys answered many.
1) Will Jalen Ramsey or Cooper Kupp get an extension before the start of the season?
While not answered in the game Jalen Ramsey and Cooper Kupp received their contract extensions this week. Ramsey signed first with a historic $105 million five-year deal. Then Kupp followed it up with a $48 million three-year deal. Both players are essential parts of their side of the ball. Kupp is the preferred target for Goff, going second in the league in touchdowns with 10. Ramsey came over the trade last season, but he had nine interceptions and 44 pass breakups in his three years prior.
2) Who Will Replace Todd Gurley?
Rookie Cam Akers was the listed starter for the game, but veteran Malcolm Brown recorded the most carries with 18 and both rushing touchdowns. Akers had a productive first game with 14 carries and 39 yards and will contribute more down the road, but Brown is the premier back. Brown also added three receptions and 31 yards, averaging 10 yards per reception.
The running back-by-committee is definitely keeping Brown from reaching Todd Gurley’s workload, but that might be what is getting him his stats. Defenses will have to prepare for all three backs making it hard to pinpoint what to expect.
3) Will the Offense Create a New Identity Without Todd Gurley?
Gurley was the offense for the Rams. He was an elite running back, and teams were shutting him down every time he was on the field last season. It’s no surprise that all of the offenses questions have to do with him.
The offense, though, was able to get the run game going by using play-action to read the defense but, most importantly, keep Dallas guessing. One of the plays they used was to send Robert Woods in motion and snap while he ran across the backfield. They had three options: pitch it to Woods as he flew across Jared Goff, hand it off to the running back, or throw it to the Woods on the screen.
The offense also played fast but held onto the ball. They dominated the time of possession by 11 minutes. The tempo offense also threw the Cowboys defense, who were unprepared. The Rams also had some little mistakes to fix. Jared Goff threw an interception, and they failed to score a touchdown in the fourth quarter in a one-score game.
4) What Will Brandon Staley’s Defense Look Like?
The Rams brought in all new coordinators on offense, defense, and special teams in the offseason. Offensive Coordinator and Special Teams Coordinators Kevin O’Connel and John Bonamego have held the position with other teams. But, Defensive Coordinator Brandon Staley has never held the job in the NFL.
The defense was just as highflying as the offense. The Rams kept what was supposed to be a high power and efficient offense to under 400 total yards and 25 minutes with the ball. They were challenged many times by Dallas but held their ground throughout the game. Staley kept Dallas on their toes was the Rams shifty defense. Many times the defense would flash one coverage and shift mid-play to something else. It made it impossible for Dallas to predict.
Many players kept Dallas off the score sheet. Jordan Fuller and Jalen Ramsey had crucial stops to force possession changes. Aaron Donald and the defensive line were in Dak Prescott’s face all night. The defense recorded three sacks for a loss of 22 yards and seven quarterback hits. Dallas had no answer to Donald’s pass rush, and running back Ezekiel Elliot had no chance against the elite defensive tackle.
Featured Image: Keith Birmingham/Pasadena Star-News/SCNG