The Los Angeles Rams look to celebrate their 2021 Super Bowl victory, fly their championship banner and end the 2022 season with a victory.
The Buffalo Bills took the little banner symbolically, put it on the table, set it on fire, and jumped over it.
The Bills exploded in the second half, scoring 21 points unanswered and winning 31-10. Although the game was a bit of a blowout, we can take some inspiration from this game:
Bill’s offense is a war machine
OMG, Josh Allen. The Bill Signal Callers went 26-31 for 297 yards, three touchdowns and two interceptions, and added 56 yards and ground touchdowns. The numbers are impressive on the surface, but when you look at how Allen is winning, it’s clear he’s developed into one of the best QBs in the league.
In the first half, Allen saw a lot of 2-high coverage, forcing him to take bottom passes and checkdowns. What was once an issue for Allen (short-range accuracy and impatience) seems to have become a force. Allen targeted a short section of the court with laser efficiency, firing on time beyond the interception he threw in the first half.
Rolling around in the second half, the Rams will start getting more aggressive, hitting screens or blitzing. This is when Allen makes them pay, either using his legs to make a huge difference or doing stuff like that, which shouldn’t be normal for an NFL QB, but for Josh Allen, It’s just another Thursday:
It’s a concept called “Mills” where the wide receiver digs the ball and then the wide receiver goes deep . The Rams blitzed to an overloaded side and smashed the pockets, but for Allen, he pitched with anticipation, giving Gabriel Davis a 47-yard gain. If Allen can continue to be that efficient on the baseline and from the short distance, while still beating other teams with deep passes overhead, good luck.
In addition, the ticket can diversify and change in the running game. Pulled right tackle Spencer Brown in reading option play, used guard Reggie Gilliam in designed outside zone throw. Now they can go into more clearance plans and mash up teams in order to get them out of the 2 flak shells they will see, making their offense very dangerous.
Von Miller is the straw for stirring the drink, but Bills DL is deep and dangerous
This was Von Miller’s return to SoFi Stadium, and he didn’t disappoint, with two sacks in the win that perfectly encapsulates the future Hall of Famer.
In the first sack, he sets up a Ram LT Joe Noteboom outside to fake a speed sprint, then uses the “forklift” technique , raised the tackler’s hand, and the Bulls rushed him into Rams QB Matt Stafford. Then on the next sack, he reaches under Noteboom, a sack that flies past him, a Von Miller special.
Although Miller is obviously a big-name boss, Bill’s defense dominates the Rams front line, wave after wave. Defensive tackle Ed Oliver was impressive before his injury. Jordan Phillips overwhelmed the Rams inside, scoring 1.5 sacks. Young fullbacks Gregory Rousseau, AJ Epenesa and Boogie Basham combined for 3.5 sacks. Overall, the Bills lost seven sacks and seven tackles. The free-agent acquisition of Shak Clausen didn’t even play. Bill’s line of defense is deep, versatile, and dangerous, and Von Miller is the star.
Matt Stafford may not be the problem (yet)…
So let’s talk about Matt Stafford’s performance. The Rams’ signal caller went 29-41 for 240 yards, a touchdown and three interceptions, but for much of the game he looked… uncomfortable. Of his 29 passes, 13 of them went to Cooper Kupp, and no other receiver caught more than five passes. Free-agent acquisition Allen Robinson only took one pass on two targets and never seemed to find his way out of the game. Kupp’s normal hi-lo line sailed more than usual and looked like a disjointed offensive performance. But don’t worry about Stafford. Not getting any snaps in the preseason and being limited in practice due to an elbow injury (which may or may not fully heal – also something to monitor) certainly played a role in the offensive performance. When you bring in a new receiver like Robinson, it takes time to build a rapport. Unless the elbow injury persists, I wouldn’t worry about the Rams’ signal callers.
…but the Rams offensive line is a major problem
Man, it was a forgettable performance for the Rams offensive line. After Andrew Whitworth retired and Austin Corbett was eliminated by the Panthers, the Rams had to replace two of their top five linebackers from an offensive line that was already close to league average. Add that top pick Logan Bruce tore his ACL in the offseason and you’re not going to be partying in the LA frontcourt anymore. The Rams allowed seven sacks, and a lot of the pressure came from the paint, center Brian Allen and linebackers Coleman Shelton and David Edwards were overwhelmed by the Bills’ defensive front. A key part of the Super Bowl in Los Angeles is Matt Stafford’s ability to play and defend from the gun, especially in an empty team. The Rams tried it tonight, but Stafford was immediately under pressure from the inside and didn’t have any time to play. The Rams had to play more action passing games under center just to give Stafford some time. The Rams offensive line is one of those entering the year The main question mark, based on how they played tonight, isn’t going to change anytime soon.