Following a Week 10 win over Washington, The Seahawks head to Los Angeles this weekend looking for another victory as well as a chance to show that they're a lot better than the team that lost to the Rams in Week 1. To get you ready for this week's game, Seahawks.com reached out to the Athletic’s Jourdan Rodrigue with five questions about Seattle's Week 11 opponent, the Los Angeles Rams:
The Rams have lost three in a row but are getting their quarterback back coming off their bye; what's the outlook for this team midway through the season with a 3-6 record?
Rodrigue: From the outside, it looks like the Rams are setting up a decent draft position for themselves this spring. From the inside, this is a 'never say die' group that knows it has been a score away from winning in most of these losses, and a lot of those margins have been self-inflicted. As long as Matthew Stafford (UCL sprain in thumb) can play, and Sean McVay says Stafford is expected to start on Sunday, this team will be in games. If he's not able to play, or he's clearly hindered...well, check back on that Packers game.
Seattle fans saw firsthand in Week 1 what kind of damage Puka Nacua can do, but how in the world is the fifth-round pick having such a big impact as a rookie?
Rodrigue: Nacua immediately came across to this staff like a veteran player, not a fifth-round rookie. He took on Stafford's first reads against zone coverage when Cooper Kupp was out, and then settled very well into the "Robert Woods"-circa-2017/18 role when Kupp returned. He plays much more physically and confidently than his age and draft status would indicate, and he's extremely bright and motivated to activate however he can in the run and pass game so he doesn't have to come off the field. But further than that, the Rams understand Nacua's skill set because it's one they've maximized over and over again in their offense over the years under McVay. He can do all the things asked of him, which is a credit to him, and they're asking a lot. To have a player who has achieved what he has at such a pace and so early in his career is literally historic, but Nacua also did the work behind the scenes to understand exactly what Stafford needed of him on every play -- and then doing those things. Sometimes that can make the biggest difference for a young receiver, in working with a veteran quarterback. Nacua has plenty of talent and even more long-term potential than he's displayed so far, so matching that with specific asks and details from the quarterback made their connection sing in the early weeks of the season.
Speaking of rookies, how has this year's draft class impacted the outlook for the Rams' future beyond just this season?
Rodrigue: It's interesting because the Rams alluded to what Seattle did after the 2021 season into 2022 as a "proof of concept" of how a team can nail a draft and re-set their team on the fly after doing so. As of right now, they seem to have found long-term starters or key role-players in Nacua, guard Steve Avila, outside linebacker Byron Young and defensive tackle Kobie Turner. These players have started for the Rams all season, produced and also displayed growth potential. I'd be remiss not to include their rookie punter, Ethan Evans (also a draft pick) and their undrafted free agent rookie long snapper Alex Ward as two additional full-time starters.
Aside from the obvious big names, what player/players could you see being an X-factor in Sunday's game?
Rodrigue: Starting cornerback Cobie Durant has been dealing with an ongoing shoulder injury, and before that he took over Derion Kendrick's spot at outside cornerback after beginning the year as their "star" defensive back. If Durant can't play, the Rams have been pretty inconsistent opposite the stellar play of Ahkello Witherspoon. A player who could factor in for the positive in their secondary is Quentin Lake, who was playing dime linebacker in one of the Rams' subpackages but has since had his snaps increased and is spending more time purely in the slot. Meanwhile, the Rams expect to get right tackle Rob Havenstein back from a calf injury and his presence is significant for an offensive line that has flashed some bright moments, but also some inconsistency.
What matchup or matchups are you most looking forward to seeing play out on Sunday?
Rodrigue: The Rams' offensive line has struggled a little in pass protection, in part due to injuries, over the last couple of games. Overall the group has allowed 122 pressures (No. 14 in the NFL, per TruMedia) at a 35.1 percent rate (No. 17). After a bye week, and with Stafford recovering from his UCL sprain, this group needs to have a strong day against a Seahawks pass rush that is pressuring quarterbacks at a 36.2 percent rate, according to TruMedia (No. 13 in the NFL). Running the ball wouldn't hurt.
The Seahawks and Rams face off for the first game of the regular season on Sunday, Nov. 19, 2023. Kickoff is set for 1:25 p.m. PT. Take a look back through history at the Seahawks' matchups against the Rams.