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5 Keys to the Rams’ Second Half of the Season

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 In their first game off the bye, the Rams look like a well-oiled machine winning 23-16 staying undefeated at home.

So what are some of the take-aways from the game for the rest of the season?

The Rams’ Kept Putting Pressure on the Quarterback

Photo: Ashley Landis/The Associated Press

Aaron Donald did not register on the stat sheet minus two hits on Russell Wilson, but that didn’t stop the defense from recording six sacks, five tackles for loss, and 10 additional QB hits. The threat of Donald is enough to free up another player to make big plays, and other players stepped up. Micah Kiser had 12 total tackles, Leonard Ford had three sacks and two tackles for loss. While Willson exceeded his rushing yards per game average, the Rams sacked his the most times this season.

The Rams have been solid, rushing the passer and a fifth the league in sacks. The defense needs to continue to get after the quarterback. The Rams face Tom Brady next, who is a phenomenal talent, but Cam Newton, Jimmy Garrapalo, Kyler Murry, and Russel Wilson are fantastic runners who can hurt the Rams in space.

Defensive Backs Are Improving, and the Key to Future Success

The Seahawks lead the league in passing yards with nearly 300 yards a game in the air. The Rams held Wilson to 220 passing yards. The Seahawks also lead the league in points pregame with 34 points. The Rams held them to 16. The key was two interceptions from Darious Williams, one of which was in the end zone, and four pass deflections, including Williams’s desperate attempt to prevent yet another touchdown.

Defensive backs either show up on the score sheet because they get interceptions and pass deflections, or you don’t because you’re so good you quarterbacks don’t want to try about it. Williams obviously is the first two interceptions, and three pass deflection will catch everyone’s eye. Jalen Ramsey only had two tackles the whole day. He shadowed Seahawks receiver D.K. Metcalf and kept him out of the stat sheet. Metcalf is second in the league in receiving yards per game with 98.5 yards; Ramsey held him to two receptions on four targets for 28 yards.

The Rams defensive backs need to split time on the stat sheet going forwards. What I mean by that is every game needs to look like yesterday going forward. Ramsey needs to shut down the opposing team’s No. 1 receiver, and everyone else needs to get interceptions and pass deflections when their number is called. The defensive linemen and linebackers need to continue to pressure the quarterback and stop the run game. The nice thing is the Rams are second in the league in yards allowed and points allowed per game. They need to continue to play at the elite level they played yesterday.

The Offense Needs to Convert on Turnovers

Photo: Ashley Landis / The Associated Press

The Rams won the turn over the battle, but they failed to convert those turnovers into points. After each Seattle turnover, the Rams punted on each subsequent drive. The Rams need to punish opposing teams if they manage to get a turnover. Luckily the Rams didn’t need those extra points, but there have been plenty of situations where they could have used them.

The Rams schedule isn’t getting any easier down the stretch, and they can’t leave points on the field. The Rams are currently in a three-way tie for first in the NFC West, and leaving points on the field will not win them a Super Bowl any time soon. There are better offenses out there that will convert their turnovers into at least a field goal. All it takes is an interception for the momentum to go against the Rams. If there is ever a time to score it’s after a turnover.

Three Productive Running Backs

If you look at each running backs individual stats, like any fantasy managers with one of these backs, they didn’t have an impressive day. All three averaged 33 yards yesterday on about 7 carries each. Together they had 100 yards rushing and three touchdowns. Even though the run game has not been as deadly as the passing game they showed, the Rams showed they could have three productive running backs at the same time. The Rams made the switch from a four-down back in Todd Gurley to a running back by committee this season, and it couldn’t have gone any smoother.

If Sean McVay can continue to work in the running game and include all three running backs going forward, then the offense much scarier. The Rams do a lot with jet sweeps and creating confusion in the backfield for the defense, so there are always plenty of players to run the ball with. If the run game continues like it did yesterday, then defenses will have to game plan a lot better for the Rams. The Rams’ offense is already underrated, and more involvement from the run game will put them on plenty of team’s radar and make them possible Super Bowl contenders.

What to Do Without Andrew Whitworth

Andrew Whitworth was carted off the field in the second quarter with a left knee injury. If you wanted the game, it doesn’t take a doctor to tell you the knee doesn’t bend like that. Until the Ram’s confirm the injury, it’s likely the Rams will be without their star left tackle for a significant amount of time. Joe Noteboom came in to replace him, and the Rams didn’t fall apart.

Jared Goff was sacked three times yesterday, and two of them came in the second half before Whitworth’s injury. While Whitworth has anchored the line protecting Goff’s backside for three years, I’m not worried about the Rams offensive line. Noteboom played great yesterday in his first game since week 2. Noteboom usually plays next to Whitworth at left guard but David Edwards did enough in Noteboom’s absence to keep the starting job.

Featured Image: Jae C. Hong/The Associated Press
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