Rost: 3 things about the Rams — and 1 about the Seahawks — we learned from a Rams expert
As part of an early look around the rest of the NFC West, my 710 ESPN Seattle co-host Jake Heaps and I interviewed a few reporters and analysts who cover the Seahawks’ three divisional foes.
All of these interviews offered up important details and nuggets that Seahawks fans need to know about the most important teams Seattle will face this season. In an unexpected twist, these interviews also taught us a thing or two about the Seahawks themselves.
So, let’s get started with the Seahawks’ last opponent from 2020: the Los Angeles Rams. We were joined by current Rams radio analyst (and former Washington Husky) D’Marco Farr for a temperature check of the Rams team as it stands now.
Here are three things Farr taught us about the Rams – and one thing we learned about the Seahawks:
The Matthew Stafford upgrade is as advertised (so far)
Jared Goff has appeared in twice as many playoff games (six) as Matthew Stafford (six), despite being drafted seven years after him. He’s also won two postseason contests, while Stafford is looking for his first postseason win and hasn’t appeared in the playoffs since 2016.
That also lacks context, because during that time Goff landed on one of the most stacked teams in the league with an innovative, offensive-minded head coach, while Stafford hasn’t enjoyed nearly the same level of support in Detroit.
It might be annoying for Seahawks fans to hear, but Stafford should be an upgrade over Goff; he’s got a better arm and more veteran savvy – which Goff appeared to be lacking in significant moments last season. It would appear it’s exactly why L.A. was ready to move on, and why a player like Stafford felt like a perfect fit.
“Listening to what other coaches have to say about him, and seeing that on the field backing up what they say: he throws a tight spiral, he can get it to any place on the field, he’s really athletic, he’s a great leader, he’s talented,” Farr said. “So everything you heard about in Detroit you get to see here. It’s going to be interesting what McVay will do, and I guess that’s the question. With Jared Goff you knew what you had. He knew how to coach around his deficiencies and to maximize what he can do best. Stafford is going to take a while for him to know. Maybe they’ve done it and we haven’t seen it just yet. But you would think with an upgrade at quarterback this offense would really take off. As far as comparing Goff to Stafford, I would say you got an upgrade there. But we’ll see how it translates to the regular season.”
Expect this defense to be just fine under new DC Raheem Morris
Not all of L.A.’s problems are solved just because they finished as the league’s top overall unit on that side of the ball. Farr stressed they could still use an edge rusher, and will need a repeat in production from a player like Leonard Floyd. The health of their two best players — defensive tackle Aaron Donald and cornerback Jalen Ramsey – is obviously key. But he’s not too concerned about the loss of former Rams defensive coordinator Brandon Staley, now head coach of the Chargers.
“There’s still some question marks, but with Raheem Morris coming in, I don’t think there’s going to be that much of a change because of who you have,” Farr said. “You can put Aaron Donald just about anywhere in this game and he’s going to be dominant. You have Jalen Ramsey who you can just mix and match in your coverage schemes. So you’ve got instant pressure with AD and you’ve got a man eraser in the secondary. So whoever took this job was coming in with some pretty good weapons…
“(Morris) is a leader. It’s not outward. I’ll say this: watching Gregg Williams be the defensive coordinator and coach the football team was entertaining for us the fans because of the stuff he said. It was hilarious. Not sure how much fun it was playing for him. Raheem Morris is the exact opposite. Everything he says is for the guys. He could care less about what we think and it’s all about getting them to play better and to play together.”
The team sent Michael Brockers to Detroit in a second trade, but managed to retain Floyd and cornerback Darius Williams.
There are two Rams we’re not talking about, but we could be talking about in December
Seahawks fans are plenty familiar with the biggest names on the Rams’ roster – you see them twice a year, after all – but there are two names Farr told us to keep an eye on when these two teams meet later this year: defensive tackle Greg Gaines and rookie wide receiver Tutu Atwell.
“This is gonna seem like I’m pandering because we went to the same school, but Greg Gaines,” Farr said. “There’s a guy there. How does he fit into the batter of the defensive line? You’ve got A’Shawn Robinson, who they brought in and who they expect big things from… Sebastian Joseph-Day is a guy that’s kind of developed into one of the better nose tackles in the game; he’s been working with Aaron Donald for years. And then you have AD99, Aaron Donald, the best player in the game, so to speak, depends on who you ask. But he’s a tremendous defensive player and one of the best defensive linemen we’ve ever seen. But Greg Gaines is a guy, when you watch him, it’s: does he need to get more snaps? How much is too much? Is ‘not enough’ going to be a problem? At whose expense? Who’s reps does he take? So watch out for him this season, forcing his way onto the football field.
“On offense, Tutu Atwell is a guy that Sean McVay and the Rams just coveted in the draft. He’s a smaller guy … but he’s 1,000 miles per hour in all directions. Sean McVay has been looking for a way to bring that to his offense for years and he thinks he’s found the right guy.”
What we learned about the Seahawks: Shane Waldron gets defense (and might just be a HC in waiting)
We couldn’t interview a Rams expert without asking about former Rams passing game coordinator (and new Seahawks offensive coordinator) Shane Waldron. Waldron has received high praise from Seahawks players so far, but fans are otherwise unsure of what to expect from the rookie play-caller.
Farr says they’re in good hands.
“Great coach, great guy, he really fit in well,” Farr said. “He fit in with the young genius mode of the Sean McVays: the 30-year-old offensive geniuses that seem to populate the NFL. He can really talk ball and the thing that really stood out to me, with most of those guys on offense, is that they really talk defense. They really understand defense. That’s the difference. These masters of offensive football are really masters of defense and they make the rules that you follow on defense work against you.
“… I think the Seahawks are getting a stud. I think they are getting a head coach in waiting at some point out of Waldron. I think that much of him and that’s going to be a big step for Sean McVay to get over without his good coaches here.”