I hate the Rams.. No really I do. It’s bugged me that both teams have been down on their luck the past few years because this rivalry used to be really good. This could be a very interesting game for many reasons. None of those reasons more important than the vast amount of injuries both teams will have to deal with. I haven’t confirmed this (writing this article at 10,000 ft on a Southwest flight to Denver) but the Rams probably have the worst possible injury situation I have seen in several years. This has led to a very disappointing and lost season for a team many thought would compete for the NFC West title.
Seattle: RG John Moffit (IR), RT James Carpenter (IR)
Wr Brandon Lloyd (45 targeted passes, 21 Catches) has been a huge addition to this Rams offense. Since the trade he is the Rams # 1 option in the passing game and has surpassed all Rams receivers in targeted passes. CB Richard Sherman has had a lot of lofty praise thrown his way after his stellar play and will need to continue to shine in order to slow Lloyd down. Brandon Lloyd makes a habit of spectacular catches in clutch situations. His route running and separation ability remind me of Chad OchoCinco in his early Bengals years. What surprises me, is the lack of national attention he receives. Make no mistake, this receiver is a deadly asset to the Rams attack. One of the things that impresses me most about Richard Sherman is his athletic ability. It’s very difficult for a man his size and length to sink and flip is hips like he does. This enables him to stay “belt to belt” with receivers coming out of his initial back pedal. I’m very concerned with Lloyd’s savvy route running here. I have a feeling Rams Offensive Coordinator Josh McDaniels will be calling for double move routes all day for two reasons: 1. With our defensive scheme, our lack of pressure may give those routes time to develop. 2. Sherman, for all his supreme ability, is still a very young and inexperienced corner.
Advantage: WR Brandon Lloyd
RB Steven Jackson-Oline Vs Seahawks Defensive front
Steven Jackson is a like a sledge hammer with feet. His freakish mixture of size, power, aggression, and quickness make him very effective against smaller defenses. Here’s the thing, the Seahawks aren’t the small, quick, athletic, play with the lead type defense anymore. The Seahawks, under Pete Carroll have collected, large, nasty, and aggressive defenders that aren’t afraid of players like Jackson. Mentality aside, this match up is very intriguing to me. The Rams want to utilize Jackson to keep the pressure off a horrible pass protection issue that has plagued them all year. A balanced approach will keep Sam Bradford upright. The Seahawks are built for this, and with the injuries on the Rams O-Line, I forsee a disappointing outing for Jackson in this one.
Advantage: Seahawks Defensive Front
QB Sam Bradford vs the Seahawks Secondary.
I’m sorry, but Sam Bradford does not impress me at all. Never has. When the measuring stick for the #1 overal pick is simply to just “look like you belong” it’s pretty easy to achieve. The media tried to make a big deal about arbitrary rookie milestones, but I just don’t see the impact game to game.
So far this season Seattle QB Tarvaris Jackson has outplayed him. Stats aside (which actually help my case) his game performances have been in a word…underwhelming. Not horrible, not great, just meh. Maybe it’s the new offense under McDaniels, perhaps the protection issues, or maybe it’s Sam Bradford and all of the above. This is why when fans assume that the #1 pick is going to be a lock it baffles me. Do I think he’s a bust? No way, but I have higher expectations for players chosen #1. He’s not elite, nor even close. He’s not a franchise changer like Matt Ryan was for a completely broken Atlanta Falcons team. He’s just another NFL QB and as a Seahawks fan, I’m happy about that.
However, Sam Bradford, despite his flaws, has the ability to hurt you if you give him time (as with most QBs not named Whitehurst). The Rams attack will probably focus on a pass to set up the run approach despite the pass protection issues. The Seahawks deploy a front with one pass rushing DE (Chris Clemons) and a mountainous run stuffing DE (Red Bryant). That approach has led to a very impressive run stopping force, but also limited pressure which leads to extra coverage time for our DBs. When you add in to the mix, the overall youth and inexperience at both Corner positions (Sherman, Browner), we may see an uptick of graded performance for the man I just criticized. Browner, and Sherman: Put your big boy pads on fellas.
Advantage: The Seahawks secondary loses some battles, but wins the war.
Match ups to watch when the Seahawks have the ball.
Rams Defensive Line vs the band new right side of the Seahawks offensive line
This matchup seems scary because of the injuries to our entire right side. I don’t see it that way. If we struggle against the pressure from DE’s Chris Long, and James Hall, I believe it’s scheme and talent, not injuries. I just don’t see the huge drop off with our back ups at this point. That said, RG John Moffit, and RT James Carpenter have had some really nice snaps this year. Series to series you can pick out about one or two and say “wow, there’s some serious potential there”. Problem is (and this is why I feel like the line’s play will remain consistent with previous production) with every nice play, there is five or six that force you to scratch your head. Lucky for the Seahawks, most of those plays have happened backside or Tarvaris Jackson was able to get the ball off prior to the broadcast focusing on the mistake. The addition of RG Paul McQuistan and RT Breno Giacomini may scare some fans, but their experience level may just enable the Seahawks to continue as scheduled. Bottom line: We may not have dominate snaps, but we may not have the same amount of poor snaps either. I can live with that.
There is no question who the leader of the Rams defense is. James Laurinaitis is everything you could want in a MLB. Athletic, powerful, intelligent, and a wrap tackler. The match up here could be fun for fans of the running game. The Seahawks have had some success in the past few weeks getting Marshawn lynch involved in the offense, and he has delivered. I have been critical of Marshawn Lynch’s ability to get a clear “blocking progression picture” when he’s handed the ball. As we witnessed in Buffalo, and the majority of games in Seattle, he will charge full speed into the back of a lineman, dance around, and aggressively fight eleven defenders for an impressive 2 yard loss. This led to a bunch of his run yardage coming on big runs, and not a consistent attack. The past few weeks his vision has increased, and his anticipation of pursuit angles has put him in great position for success.
QB Tarvaris Jackson vs the Rams Secondary.
As most of you know, I’m a true believer in the run game setting up the passing game for success. I’m also fully aware of the match up that faces Tarvaris Jackson and this Rams secondary. This could be like taking candy from a baby if we can win up front. The Rams have lost a total of nine DB’s this year to injury. Nine. I’m currently reading Pete Carroll’s “Win Forever”, and while I find his philosophy of “next man up” indearing, I can’t help but think that there’s only so far down in the barrel you can go before you are scraping the goo off the bottom. If I’m wrong, the Rams have the best scouting department and front office in the NFL. WR’s Sidney Rice, Doug Baldwin, Mike Williams, and TE Zach Miller should be able to run their routes and find several openings inside the zone heavy pass defense. With all of the injuries , the Rams drop LB’s into coverage a bunch, and that’s even better news for those that are worried about our line. Tarvaris should be able to shred this secondary, and I believe he will.
Overall Position Group Edge Breakdown:
Final Thoughts: The Seahawks are coming off of an impressive win vs a Raven’s team we may have had no business beating. This isn’t the case with the Rams. If we lose, It’s a focus issue, and not a talent issue. I would not say that about most teams Seattle faces this year, but with the amount of back ups who are filling in for back ups, the Rams are a team fighting with one hand tied behind their back.
Prediction: 17-13 Seahawks