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What did we learn Week 1 of the 2021 season?

Photo credit: Jae C. Hong/AP Photographer.

What a Week 1, right? Week 1 doesn’t foreshadow the entire season, but it usually is a good indicator. Unless you’re a Tom Brady-led Tampa Bay Buccaneers team that becomes a Super Bowl-caliber team in the playoffs. So what did we learn about the Los Angeles Rams in Week 1?

1.  Matthew Stafford is for real

Rams fans have been awaiting QB Matthew Stafford’s debut in Los Angeles. He didn’t disappoint. He came as advertised, finishing with 321 yards, three touchdowns and no interceptions. Not only did he finish with a stunning 156.1 QB rating, but also managed to pass for 12.3 yards/pass. Doesn’t get much better than that.

Keep in mind, while Stafford wasn’t perfect, he can only get better as he develops more of a chemistry with the Rams offense. That’s a scary thought for the rest of the league since Stafford now has an upgrade at offensive line and has a platoon of weapons to throw to. He won’t play a terrible Bears secondary every week, but he also won’t have to face a terrorizing Bears front seven either. All this in mind, it’s only Week 1 and there’s plenty of football left, but these are promising results.

2. Center is still a position of concern

Ok, good feeling is gone. The Rams offensive line did solid for the most part. They only surrendered one sack and Stafford wasn’t seriously pressured too often. That’s great to hear. That said, the weakest link of the offense is easily the center position. Brian Allen took over the starting center position for the first time since 2019. While we’ve seen Allen play much worse than we did Sunday night, it still isn’t comforting. Mind you, the Rams won’t always face tough defensive lines like the Chicago Bears’ but Stafford was seeing pressure from players like Akiem Hicks. Hicks was bullying Allen at times, consistently pushing him backward.

The good thing is Stafford is no stranger to defensive pressure. The little pressure Stafford seen, he was able to avoid. To be fair, Allen did seem to improve some since 2019. Here’s hoping he will continue to develop.

3. Plenty of uncertainty at RB

Remember when I said that Week 1 doesn’t tell all? Well, that is the case for the Rams’ running back situation. All Week 1 did is confirm that Darrell Henderson is the starter, which we already knew. The Rams didn’t run the ball often, only rushing the ball 23 times. That’s not surprising considering the Bears defense excels against the run. What is surprising is seeing Sony Michel only have one rushing attempt. Not exactly the production you want to see from a guy the Rams recently traded for. We’ll know more as the weeks progress.

4. Tackling needs to improve

I will agree that David Montgomery is one of the more underrated running backs in the NFL, but he shouldn’t be rushing over 100 yards against this defense. It isn’t that he was consistently driving the ball, it was the broken and missed tackles that bothered me. This mostly occurred in the first half and did get better as the game went on. I just hope this is just the starters shaking off the rust.

5. Justin Hollins solidified his starting role

While it wasn’t a surprise to see Hollins starting over Terrell Lewis and Ogbonnia Okoronkwo, nobody expected to see Hollins dominate. Hollins did have the benefit of Aaron Donald’s work, but  he still produced a career day. Any notion of seeing Lewis or Okoronkwo as a potential starter this season may have went out the window. It’s just one game, but after earning eight total tackles, two sacks and a forced fumble, it’s a great start.

6. Secondary is still dangerous

Truthfully, I wasn’t concerned about the secondary as others were. Don’t get me wrong, I can understand considering the departures of CB Troy Hill and S John Johnson to the Cleveland Browns. That said, the secondary truly contained the Bears’ passing attack to just above 200 yards. Even receivers Allen Robinson and Darnell Mooney combined for a total of 61 yards. Now, they may not be the best receiving duo in the NFL, and have Andy Dalton passing to them most times, but they’re still a tough duo to contain.

Jalen Ramsey was all over the field, even seen covering tight ends. Darious Williams locked down his targets consistently. David Long was by far the biggest question mark in the secondary and he did a decent job. He even snagged the only interception in the game. The Rams didn’t even need Terrell Burgess’s services in the game. Taylor Rapp and Jordan Fuller weren’t perfect, but they still did a great job despite being a young corps of safeties. There will be tougher tests ahead, but the Rams secondary is still a great unit in 2021.

7. The NFC West is scarier than we thought

The NFC West is the best division in football. Shocker. Every team in the division winning in Week 1 isn’t a massive surprise, but the dominant performance from each team is terrifying. As we know, the Rams had a decisive victory over the Bears. But what about the rest of the division?

The Arizona Cardinals probably had the most impressive victory of any team in the NFC West. The Tennessee Titans are no pushovers, and while the have weaknesses, they have studs on their rosters that can make life difficult for any opposing team.  The Cardinal defense limited A.J. Brown and Julio Jones to a combined 78 receiving yards and Derrick Henry to just 58 rushing yards. This sums up why the score ended in a 38-13 victory.

Some can argue the 49ers’ victory wasn’t that impressive since the 41-33 score was a narrow margin over a mediocre Detroit Lions team. QB Jared Goff did bounce back in the final moments of the fourth quarter, but truthfully, it was garbage time. The 49ers dominated the entire game. Now, they can’t do that to every opponent, but the majority of the game was impressive.

Finally, the Seattle Seahawks showed some offensive firepower in their 28-16 victory over the Indianapolis Colts. It’s no secret that Russell Wilson has no shortage of weapons and he wasn’t afraid to use them, particularly Tyler Lockett. Lockett went off, and locked the game away with a 100-yard and two-touchdown performance.

In short, the NFC West is damn scary!

Source: Pro-football-reference.com

You can follow Johnny Gomez on Twitter @Johnny5not6. Be sure to follow Rams Talk on Twitter @TalkRams.

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