- The Rams swept the season series from Seattle thanks to a new addition and an unusual approach on defense, but the Cooper Kupp injury poses a major problem. How will they replace him?
On the Monday Morning NFL Podcast, Andy Benoit and Gary Gramling analyzed the good and bad of the Rams’ win over Seattle…
GARY: The Seahawks and the Rams, this was their second meeting of the year here and the Rams once again survive. I guess if you’re a Rams fan, you’re still a little bit worried about this defense. You’re encouraged by the fact that they won another close game—they’re 5-0 in one-possession games now. What I was thought was most encouraging was Dante Fowler. After picking up an incredibly boneheaded penalty to basically push the Seahawks punt team off the field and bring the offense back and the Seahawks got the touchdown on that drive, he made a huge play late, strip-sacking Russell Wilson, which led directly to a touchdown. He is flashing as the kind of edge presence they really need with this defense.
ANDY: Absolutely, and I was wrong. I didn’t think they would play him in their base 3-4/5-2 package and he has played in that. He’s not an every-down player for them, but he’s been an almost every-package player. He’ll help. If he continues what he’s doing, they get an edge rushing presence. They’ll have Ndamukong Suh on the other side and then Donald and Brockers inside. They need that.
I think the big story in this game though Gary is the other side of the ball and Cooper Kupp going down with what sounds like an ACL injury [since confirmed]. That’s going to have major repercussions on the Rams offense. Major repercussions.
GARY: What do they do to replace him? I mean you have Robert Woods, another slot possession guy. Gerald Everett (who is really “my guy,” Jaylon Smith is not my guy, Gerald Everett is my guy and forever my guy), he’s made a couple plays the last two weeks. Maybe he gets a bigger role. What do they do to replace Kupp at this point?
ANDY: He’s not irreplaceable but there are things he does that are irreplaceable. The guy’s going to be Josh Reynolds. Kupp was out a few weeks ago and Reynolds filled in. Reynolds made some plays here and there, but he’s not as good on deep crossers as Kupp is. The really big deal that will never got noticed—but the Rams, within the organization, they talk about this a lot, and Robert Woods is the other guy who does this—Cooper Kupp and Robert Woods are so good at disguising their routes off the snap and making it look like they might be run blocking or running a route. So when everybody talks about the Rams, you don’t know whether it’s going to be a run play or a pass play, all the plays start out looking the same, that’s not just a fake handoff action with Goff and Gurley, it’s not just the offensive line, it’s also the way those wide receivers are taught. The way Kupp presents himself as a route runner does wonders for that offensive line. They rave about it there. To lose that, you lose some subtle help for those offensive lineman and I think it’s going to have consequences. They’re not going to be as good there. So the line now has to play better in the running game. You’d never think about a No. 2 or No. 3 receiver going down and having that significantly impact your running game, but for the Rams, where these wide receivers line up just barely outside the offensive tackles, it absolutely will impact the running game. So Todd Gurley’s job got harder today.
GARY: Can I give you the good news for the Rams? They really didn’t give up many big plays over the top today.
ANDY: Well Seattle’s not been a big play offense this year either.
GARY: Well they were against the Rams last time they met. Russell made some plays with his legs in the run game, but last time they played, it was Tyler Lockett and David Moore over the top. Rams didn’t give those up. Moving in the right direction I guess.
ANDY: My goodness. I’m looking at Seattle’s rushing numbers from this game. Russell Wilson had 92 yards so that inflates it. Let’s take out Wilson out—which is a lot of yards to take out—but as you know, if they were scramble yards, I think they should count as passing yards. [Twenty-five] runs for the Seahawks for about just under 200 yards . The Rams run defense is not very good. Outside of the organization, I’ve heard some have said, “Wade Phillips really doesn’t think run defense is that important.” Not in terms of yards-per-carry. He might be onto something there. I’ve watched every snap of Seattle on film this season. I am really impressed with their running game. What happens is—and the reason I said they don’t make a lot of big plays, at least it feels that way—because when you run the ball so much, you’re so dependent on big plays because otherwise your drives have to go 12-15 snaps and it’s just not going to happen. We ought to have a long offseason discussion and examination of how we define success in the running game for an offense and defense because I don’t think it’s as simple as the yards.
GARY: Situationally, the Rams don’t play from behind very often. They played from behind very early in this one, though they pretty much went punch for punch with the Seahawks in the first half and were leading by halftime. If you don’t play from behind, that’s not nearly as problematic. The issue with their defense: It’s one thing to say, “We’ll give up the yards per carry,” but you can’t give up the yards per carry and give up the big plays, and they’d been giving up the big plays. This, today, is a workable blueprint considering what their offense does.
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Also on this week’s edition of The Monday Morning Podcast:
1:11—Cowboys back from the brink with a win in Philly
10:01—Bears ready for big stretch run by beating up on Lions
18:18—Chargers keep collecting wins despite some resistance from Raiders
21:42—Rams survive Seahawks again, but lose Cooper Kupp
28:33—Titans finding themselves on offense, beat up on Patriots
32:42—Falcons bandwagon stalls with loss at Cleveland
36:00—Saints do whatever they want in Cincinnati as Bengals’ absurdly conservative defense exposed again
39:24—Bucs find a way to turn 500 yards into 3 points, Washington still hasn’t had a lead change in a game this year
44:42— LIGHNING(ish) ROUND!
• Colts keep going as Jaguars can’t overcome early blown coverages
• Packers have little trouble with inferior Dolphins
• Cardinals pass rush makes a run at Mahomes
• Andy has never heard of the band Chicago
• Bills hammer the Jets as Todd Bowles’s seat gets hotter
• Le’Veon Bell stuff
59:53— Andy and Gary each pick their “Thing of the Week” awards
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