The Seahawks didn’t have any sacks of Jared Goff in two games against the Los Angeles Rams last year.
But they do have a potential blueprint for how to get to Goff this Sunday.
Two weeks ago, the Miami Dolphins used Cover 0 blitzes to pressure Goff into his worst game of the season. The result? Goff coughed up four turnovers in the first half and the Dolphins handed the Rams a 28-17 defeat in Miami.
The Seahawks, desperate to turn around the league’s worst defense, have been blitzing more than ever the past two games, with mixed results. They did sack Buffalo’s Josh Allen seven times Sunday, but were otherwise ineffective at slowing the Bills offense in a 44-34 loss in Buffalo.
Seattle coaches surely will be studying how the Dolphins were able to confound Goff. Up until the Miami game, the Rams (5-3) had been one of the best in the league at protecting their QB. Goff has been sacked just 10 times total in eight games.
Three things to know about the Rams ahead of a pivotal NFC West showdown Sunday in Los Angeles:
Rams offense: good, not great
Sean McVay’s offense has taken a step back this season. The Rams do rank sixth in the NFL in yards (396.4) but just 21st in scoring (21.4).
“We’re good,” Rams receiver Robert Woods said, via ESPN. “We’re not great.”
The Rams have relied on three running backs — Darrell Henderson, Malcolm Brown and rookie Cam Akers — but haven’t consistently established a running threat.
Goff is completing 65.5% of his passes for 2,145 yards, with 13 touchdowns and six interceptions.
“In a lot of instances, he’s done some really good stuff,” McVay said, via The Los Angeles Times. “But, you know, some of the tougher plays that we had [Sunday] were really tough. And those are things that we’ve got to improve on, and I think he’ll be the first to tell you that — that he has to be better and he will be.
Aaron Donald leads one of NFL’s best defenses
When McVay first arrived in Los Angeles a few years ago, the greatest intrigue in this matchup pitted his Rams offense vs. the Seahawks defense.
Everything has flipped now.
This season, the Seahawks have the league’s top scoring offense and the Rams have one of the league’s best defenses.
Under first-year defensive coordinator Brandon Staley, the Rams have the NFL’s No. 2 scoring defense (19 points per game). They have allowed just nine passing touchdowns in eight games, the fewest in the NFL.
Pro Football Focus ranks the Rams defense No. 1 in expected points added (EPA) per play allowed.
Defensive tackle Aaron Donald remains at the center of the Rams defense. A few years ago, Russell Wilson called Donald “the best defensive player I’ve ever played against,” and it’s possible Donald has gotten even better since then.
Donald is a leading candidate to win another NFL defensive player of the year award, and PFF’s grade for Donald (93.1) is the highest of any defensive player this season.
Through eight games, Donald has nine sacks, seven tackles for loss, 15 QB hits and three forced fumbles — all while being double-teamed more than any other player in the league.
Solid at SoFi so far
The Rams, idle last week, are only one game back of the Seahawks in a crowded NFC West race.
Four of the Rams’ five wins were against the NFC East — Dallas, Philadelphia, Washington and the New York Giants — and the Rams have the NFL’s third-toughest schedule in the second half of the season.
The Rams and Seahawks have four common opponents. Like the Seahawks, the Rams lost to the Bills in Buffalo, 35-32, in Week 3. The Rams’ other two losses were also on the road — at San Francisco in Week 6 and at Miami in Week 8.
Home-field advantage isn’t the same in this COVID-19 season, and no fans are allowed in SoFi, but the Rams have had a warm welcome in their new home — going 3-0 at SoFi so far.
“This is something spectacular,” McVay told the AP after his first visit to the facility in August. “Never seen anything like it. I thought it was really special just watching the players’ reactions to how magnificent this is when they got here. They can envision themselves playing here on Sundays.”
This will be the Seahawks’ first game in SoFi. The Seahawks have lost three of four in Los Angeles since the Rams moved back there in 2016.