In a game that featured finger injuries to both starting quarterbacks, it shouldn't be surprising that both passing games struggled at Lumen Field.
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Matthew Stafford has leveled off after a red hot start to the 2021 season. His accuracy has been inconsistent the past couple of weeks, and his red-zone interception to Quandre Diggs was objectively one of his worst throws of the season. His finger injury may explain some of his inaccuracies, but it didn’t stop him from pushing the ball downfield when his offense needed it most.
With a more explosive passing game, the Los Angeles Rams running game is undergoing a bit of a transitional period. It’s clear that Sean McVay is just using it as a means of managing the down-and-distance situations. The majority of the rushing attempts have come on first down.
|Attempts||Yards Per Carry||First Down Conversion %||Gains of 10+ Yards|
Stafford’s connection with Robert Woods is reminiscent of his chemistry with his old Detroit Lions teammate Kenny Golladay. Whenever the Rams need a play most, Stafford looks to find Woods on in-breaking routes between linebackers and safeties. Cooper Kupp added 92 yards on nine targets. He and Woods combined for over 240 yards.
|Player||Targets||Yards per Route Run|
In this iteration of the Rams offense, the amount (or lack) of play-action passes affects the offensive line more than any other position group. The hope is that a more efficient and talented quarterback can fix any potential problems, and Stafford did just that against Seattle. The offensive line allowed eight pressures on the night, but Stafford got the ball out on time, as he was sacked just once.
Aaron Donald continued his dominant ways, tying for the Rams lead in pressures (four). Terrell Lewis added four pressures of his own, as the team chased Russell Wilson and Geno Smith around throughout the night.
Kenny Young and Troy Reeder couldn’t find much work as run defenders Thursday night, finishing with no tackles for loss or defensive stops because of how difficult it was for Seattle to punch past the first level of defense. Reeder found a gift in coverage, intercepting a pass deflected by teammate Jalen Ramsey.
Ramsey allowed a big play early in the game on D.K. Metcalf‘s scramble adjustment, but he cleaned things up quickly thereafter. He was targeted on what felt like an abnormally high seven times, forced two incompletions and moved between guarding receivers Tyler Lockett and Metcalf throughout the game.
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Wilson tried to battle through an apparent finger dislocation that was brought on by a Donald pressure. In the third quarter, it was clear that there was no quick fix that would also allow Wilson to maintain control of the ball through his throwing motion, so Smith took over from there.
Smith didn’t miss on his primetime opportunity, slinging the ball around with confidence. However, the game was put to bed after Smith’s late interception where a receiver slipped.
|Player||Dropbacks||Average Depth of Target||Adjusted Completion Rate||Yards Per Attempt|
The hope when offensive coordinator Shane Waldron joined the staff was that he could introduce some of the run concepts needed to create space for Seattle’s running backs. Tonight, lead back Alex Collins averaged only a hair above three yards per carry, and the team amassed just 80 yards on the night over 24 tries.
Smith wisely looked for Metcalf’s often, targeting him more in the fourth quarter than any other receiver. Metcalf’s three fourth-quarter targets (all caught) led to 54 yards and a touchdown, and his 3.63 yards per route run over the course of the game led all Seahawks receivers.
Donald’s swiping hands caused Wilson’s injury, but that was about as close as any Rams pass rusher came to a Seahawks QB Thursday night. In 37 tries, the unit only allowed four pressures and one hit on the QB.
Darrell Taylor’s sack was Seattle's only one on the night, but the team’s also recorded 11 pressures. L.J. Collier’s solitary pressure was the Seattle defensive line's only other notable pass rush, as it was unable to bother Stafford’s rhythm in must-convert situations.
Bobby Wagner is, and it feels as though he’ll forever be, the best linebacker at playing downhill against the run and downfield against the pass. His average depth of tackle on run plays was one yard, he added pressure as a blitzing backer, and he’s just as capable of carrying receivers up the seam as he was a half-decade ago.
Pete Carroll may be moving away from his heavy reliance on Cover 3, but there wasn’t much he could do to protect his corners against Kupp and Woods. Sidney Jones and DJ Reed were targeted 18 times in coverage, allowing over 180 yards, four gains of 15+ yards and seven first downs.