New Orleans Saints versus Los Angeles Rams did provide an optimum window into each team. The teams are vying for the 3rd and 4th seeds in the NFC playoff picture. My post game thoughts have been added.
Jared Goff is inaccurate when playing under duress. (We could see today when Goff is hurried, he is often inaccurate). A good pass rush and defensive line can stop this offense. (The loss of Alex Akafor was felt today) The Rams either lost or barely won against Washington, San Francisco, Cowboys, Seattle, and Vikings. The Rams could have easily lost to Jacksonville. A quality defense can affect the Rams’ ability to move and/or run the ball. (The loss of Marshon Lattimore and Ken Crawley were felt today. Goff targeted De’Vante Harris early and often).
Goff is not a consistent, precision quarterback. (You could see this today but he consistently is improving but quite a few poor end zone throws). But if a team gives him enough time, he will make a team pay with incredible throws. He has a tendency to stare down receivers and any manipulation of the defense is a result largely of the play calling as opposed to his moving the defense with his eyes. As a comparison to a recent quarterback the Saints have faced–Kirk Cousins is a better quarterback in my opinion. Goff has a poor awareness of defensive players closing in on him and may take too long to throw and set up a coverage sack. (We witnessed this twice today).
As for Todd Gurley, he is not always as dominant as one would think. (He did not take over the game). I believe there should be concerns about the offensive line of the Rams. (The line held well today but was abused by Cam Jordan. One can only imagine what would have happened with Alex Oakafor in this game).
Special teams for the Rams is of particular concern given the muffed punts/returns of Tavon Austin and Cooper Kupp. (The Rams’ punt/return game today was solid). As wide receivers, both of these players are very good but have not been the favored target of Godd as was Robert Woods. Sammy Watkins remains a bit of a mystery. I really don’t remember a game where he was an overwhelming factor. (He did have some great catches today).
The Rams’ secondary is particularly vulnerable to the big laser pass. (I did not factor in the man coverage of the Rams and the inability of the Saints receivers to get separation). The defense has given up a lot of rushing yards. (Wish we had played Alvin Kamara more often but Rams did give up some big plays and missed tackles on his rushing yards).
There is familiarity between the Saints and the Rams given last year’s contest. The Saints handily won the game and the Saints offensive line was able to handle the mighty defensive line of the Rams. However, there are new players on the Saints offensive line including rookie Ryan Ramczyk who may need assistance. (The Rams did dominate at the offensive line of scrimmage, and this won the game for them in my opinion). The Rams well remember this game and it would be foolish to assume a win over the Saints (who they typically dominated) would not be sweet to them.
The Saints will be vulnerable in the secondary but I believe the defensive scheme may be able to contain the Rams and win the game. The key, in my opinion, will be to hurry Goff and protect our secondary. The loss of Oakafor will affect the Saints’ ability to effect a pass rush but if schemed correctly, Hau’oli Kikaha and Trey Hendrickson should be a factor in hurrying Goff. (The lack of great secondary play hugely affected this game, and while the Saints were able to hurry and harry Goff, they were not able to do so consistently).
I believe the Saints will be able to move the ball through the air and will be able to rush enough to score and control the game tempo.
The Saints will win but the Rams will do themselves proud today. (So, the Rams did win but the Saints did themselves somewhat proud but one could imagine a different game with our quality corners in the game).