Behind Enemy Lines: Scouting Rams ahead of Seahawks 2023 season opener

Sean McVay, Aaron Donald, Matt Stafford and the rest of the Los Angeles Rams are coming to town on Sunday to face the Seattle Seahawks in the team’s 2023 season opener. While Los Angeles is a familiar NFC West rival, the team has gone through a ton of changes this offseason, including losing several of their most-talented players in the fallout from their all-in approach for the Super Bowl in 2021 and their subsequent collapse last season.

To learn more about the enemy, we spoke with Rams Wire managing editor Cam DaSilva. Here are a few questions he answered about his team.

Why do you think Sean McVay has been so successful (16-4) in September games?

Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports
Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports

While the Rams have certainly had some favorable matchups in the first month of the season, McVay is just very good at game planning. And giving him an entire offseason to prepare is a huge advantage in his favor. It’s part of the reason he’s 5-1 in Week 1, too. Plus, it helps that his players are usually healthy early in the season so he typically has everyone at his disposal.

Matt Stafford is 35 now and missed half of last season with injuries. What should we expect in 2023?

NFL: Los Angeles Rams Minicamp
Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

I think he’s poised for a big bounce-back season, though maybe less so if Cooper Kupp misses a lot of time. Stafford wasn’t himself last year, in large part because he basically didn’t throw all offseason due to an elbow injury. He’s gotten in a full offseason of work this year so I expect him to have much better chemistry with his receivers and perform the way he did in 2021 when he consistently hit on big plays down the field.

Who (if anybody) steps up at WR with Cooper Kupp ruled out?

Joe Nicholson-USA TODAY Sports
Joe Nicholson-USA TODAY Sports

Van Jefferson will most likely be the de facto No. 1 receiver, but it’s going to be a committee because they don’t have another true slot receiver who can fill Kupp’s void. In addition to Jefferson, the Rams will lean on Tutu Atwell and Puka Nacua, with maybe a little bit of Ben Skowronek and Demarcus Robinson mixed in. see what I mean about the whole committee thing? Stafford will have to spread the ball around to several players Sunday rather than relying strictly on Kupp as his go-to target.

How big of a deal is losing Bobby Wagner for LA's defense?

Steven Bisig-USA TODAY Sports
Steven Bisig-USA TODAY Sports

It definitely hurts, but the Rams have had Ernest Jones waiting for a bigger opportunity so he’ll get that this year. What Los Angeles will really miss is Wagner’s leadership and presence in the locker room. He was pretty darn good against the run last year, too. I fully expected him to be back in 2023 because he was that impactful so I was surprised to see them split.

Without Jalen Ramsey, that secondary looks pretty thin. Are there any bright spots there?

Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports
Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

It’s one of the biggest concerns, that’s for sure. Cobie Durant is one bright spot at corner, and Ahkello Witherspoon has looked really good all summer. So the Rams will hope to get some above-average play out of those two. At safety, the signing of John Johnson III helps immensely, pairing him with Jordan Fuller to give Los Angeles an experienced safety tandem that can help make up for any mistakes the younger corners might make.

What's your pick for this week's game?

Joe Nicholson-USA TODAY Sports
Joe Nicholson-USA TODAY Sports

I don’t expect the Rams to win this one, and I didn’t before Kupp went down, either. I just think they would’ve kept it much more competitive with Kupp available. Now, the Rams could struggle to keep up with the Seahawks, who shouldn’t have a ton of trouble moving the ball against this defense. I’ll go Seahawks 30, Rams 20.

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(Photo by Steph Chambers/Getty Images)
(Photo by Steph Chambers/Getty Images)

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Story originally appeared on Seahawks Wire