The Los Angeles Rams defense looks like it’ll be worth the investment.
So much of the story with the Rams has to do with their offense. They went from last in the NFL in scoring offense in 2016 to first in the NFL last season, with Sean McVay coaching them. On Monday night the Rams offense was OK, but it was the defense that really made the difference in the 33-13 win.
Marshawn Lynch bulled through the Rams’ defense for an early touchdown. And that was pretty much it for Oakland. The Rams didn’t allow the Raiders back in the end zone after that. The Rams defense got in the end zone though. Marcus Peters got a pick-six off Derek Carr with 1:59 left to put the exclamation point on an impressive performance by Los Angeles’ star-filled defense.
Raiders got held down most of the night
Other than Raiders tight end Jared Cook, who had a big night, the Rams held down everyone else.
Derek Carr wasn’t that good, and threw an inexplicably bad interception late in the fourth quarter, when it seemed like he might be trying to throw it away and didn’t throw it far enough to get it out of bounds. As is the case too often with Lynch in Oakland, the coaching staff forgot about him and he finished with just 41 yards on 11 carries. Amari Cooper had one catch for 9 yards and Jordy Nelson finished with 23 yards on three receptions.
Whatever Jon Gruden had cooked up for his first game as Raiders coach, it didn’t work. We’ll see how the Raiders offense does the rest of the season, but we have to give the Rams defense a lot of credit for dominating Oakland on Monday night.
Rams invested in their defense over the offseason
The Rams were good on defense last season too, then got better in the offseason.
They signed Ndamukong Suh for the middle of the defensive line. They traded for cornerbacks Aqib Talib and Marcus Peters. It was easy to remember on Monday night that they paid their superstar defensive lineman Aaron Donald, while the Raiders decided to trade Khalil Mack. Donald didn’t even have a big game on Monday night. It was his teammates who cleaned up.
Wade Phillips is one of the best coordinators in the NFL, and he has a lot of talent to work with. If he can figure out a way to limit what tight ends do against the defense, it has a chance to be a top-five unit.
And most weeks, the Rams offense will probably look better than it did on Monday night.
Rams could be NFL’s most complete team
Everyone knows the Rams are Super Bowl contenders, and it’s easy to figure out why. The offense has some really good players. Jared Goff might not be great, but he’s good enough. The receiver trio of Cooper Kupp, Robert Woods and Brandin Cooks is hard to account for. Kupp had a touchdown catch on Monday night and looks like a future star. Todd Gurley might be the best running back in football, and the Rams offensive line played very well in Week 1 too.
Now combine that with a defense that looks like it’s ready to be much better this season. There simply wasn’t much room for the Raiders offense to operate on Monday night. If that’s what we can expect from the Rams’ defense the rest of this season, there’s no reason their season can’t end at the Super Bowl.
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