The Seahawks have won two straight, but face a tough test this weekend as the 4-0 Los Angeles Rams come to town. To learn more about the Seahawks' Week 5 opponent, we reached out to Rams team insider Myles Simmons with five questions that he was kind enough to answer for Seahawks.com:
Q: Jared Goff and that offense are off to quite a start. Not that they weren't good last year, but are Goff and the offense evolving even more in Year 2 under Sean McVay, and if yes, how so?
Simmons: It seems like they are evolving, and I think it's coming from McVay getting more comfortable with his personnel as a play-caller, and then Goff just growing as a quarterback. There's definitely something to be said for continuity, and the Rams have really had only one new starter on the offensive unit this year (right guard Austin Blythe kept his spot after subbing in for Jamon Brown in the first two games, but he was with the team last year so I don't really count him as "new"). With that, McVay has utilized all three receivers in Brandin Cooks, Robert Woods, and Cooper Kupp on the jet-sweep motion we mostly only saw Tavon Austin run last year. And while it's not the only new element of the offense, I feel like that's a good example of something that's new and has given a bit of a new dimension to what the team can execute.
But Goff has also been excelling in off-schedule plays, like the throw he made rolling to his right last week for a 19-yard touchdown to Kupp. That was as impressive as a throw as I've seen him make since he came into the league, and I think it's coming from the confidence that any young QB gets with more experience.
Q: What has Ndamukong Suh brought to what was already a pretty loaded defensive line?
Simmons: He's allowed the line to become even more effective in rushing the passer. The Rams have only eight sacks so far, but according to Pro Football Focus they've got the league's best "pressure rate" at 41.4 percent. And when you turn on the tape, it's apparent that QBs are getting rid of the ball pretty quickly so that they're not at risk of going down from either Suh, or Aaron Donald, or Michael Brockers.
And I didn't expect this when he initially signed, but he's also brought an edge-rushing presence. Both of his sacks this season have come from when he was rushing at left defensive end. Not that it's entirely a surprise that he can rush from different spots on the line, but he's shown he's really got some skill in that area.
Q: The defense has given up a lot of points and yards over the past two games. Cause for concern or just a case of a defensive injuries and a hot opposing quarterback (Vikings), and a team playing from behind (Chargers)?
Simmons: Part of it probably has to do with injuries, since cornerbacks Marcus Peters and Aqib Talib went down against the Chargers. Talib has since been placed on IR, but Peters was able to gut out all 74 defensive snaps against the Vikings on a short week last Thursday.
However, pretty much everyone involved with the defense has said the unit needs to play better. Takeaways are a staple of a Wade Phillips defense, and while the Rams rank in the top 10 with seven, they want more. And the unit feels like it's got to get off the field on third down better, as opponents are converting 44.2 percent of those opportunities.
Q: Maybe this relates to the last question, but no team is perfect, even an undefeated one, what things to clean up have you seen so far?
Simmons: I think it does relate to the last question. I'd say run defense is something the club has to clean up, too. The Chargers were able to rush for 141 yards a couple weeks ago—and that was despite the fact that the Philip Rivers-led offense was trailing for most of the game. If there's anything I'm sure we all know about the Seahawks, it's that they want to run the ball and run it effectively. And with a stable of three solid running backs, that's going to be a challenge for Los Angeles' defense this week.
Q: Todd Gurley had 14 carries for 43 yards in last year's loss to Seattle, then rushed for 152 on 21 carries in the win at Seattle. Not to oversimplify things, but how important to the offense is getting him going?
Simmons: For the first couple of games, I probably would've said it's paramount. Gurley was the AP Offensive Player of the Year and the offense basically does run through him.
But in 2018, Goff has been so effective throwing it that the offense has almost turned into a "pick your poison." As a football observer, it makes a lot of sense to me if a team is going to load up the box and say, "Todd Gurley is not going to run the ball well today—Jared Goff is going to have to beat us with his arm." Clearly, Goff has been doing that so far.
But if you reverse that and you try to stop the pass, Gurley is almost certainly going to gash you on the ground. So the threat of Gurley running the ball effectively still makes the offense run through him, even if Goff is firing the ball all over the place.
That's a long answer to the simplified question, but that's at least the way I see it.
The Seahawks and Rams will meet for the 42nd time in the regular season this Sunday in Seattle. Take a look back at photos from past games played between the two teams.