Seahawks Matchup Spotlight: Rams Defensive Line

NASHVILLE, TN - SEPTEMBER 24: Quarterback Russell Wilson
NASHVILLE, TN - SEPTEMBER 24: Quarterback Russell Wilson /

The Seahawks will have a tall order when they travel to Los Angeles to take on the Rams in an NFC West showdown. How will they deal with LA’s front seven?

The Seahawks lost starting left tackle Rees Odhiambo to a bruised sternum last week in their 46-18 blowout win over the Colts. While Odhiambo showed not only improvement protecting Russell Wilson‘s blindside against Indianapolis, he also showed toughness by finishing the game–only to be hospitalized afterwards because of trouble breathing (a bruised sternum will do that–get well soon, big guy).

Odhiambo and offensive line/assistant head coach Tom Cable have to be frustrated by the injury. After three shaky games, the offensive line, held together with spit and duct tape, held up much better against the Colts’ defensive line, albeit with some inconsistency (see the sack-safety of Wilson in an uninspiring first half by the offense).

That leaves left tackle open for competition between three players: Former Rams fifth-round pick Isaiah Battle, former Eagles tackle Matt Tobin, who the Seahawks traded a fifth-round pick for, and rookie Ethan Pocic.

Whoever ends up starting at left tackle for the Seahawks on Sunday will have to deal with a team of fearsome pass rushers for the Rams.

The Rams Defense is Better than its Numbers Suggest

A casual observation of points and yards allowed shows that the Rams are only 28th in yards allowed and 27th in points allowed, but according to Defense-Adjusted Value Over Average (DVOA) metrics, the Rams are closer to the middle of the league–13th–just ahead of the Seahawks at 14th. This is after the Rams allowed 47 first downs and 861 total yards of offense to the San Francisco 49ers and Dallas Cowboys on the road the last two weeks.

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The Rams have always matched up well with the Seahawks on defense over the past four seasons. They’ve switched to a 3-4 defensive system that puts All-Pro Aaron Donald at right defensive end with Robert Quinn rushing the passer from an outside linebacker spot behind Donald. Donald was the highest-rated interior defender last week according to Pro Football Focus. Quinn is back and healthy after missing all of 2016 with concussions.

Los Angeles also added pass rushing specialist Connor Barwin this offseason to along with nose tackle Michael Brockers, who had a sack and two pass deflections last week against Dak Prescott and Ezekiel Elliott.

How will the Seahawks block this 3-4 scheme coached by the great Wade Philips? The offense’s success will once again hinge on Wilson’s ability to escape and create broken-play situations Philips can’t prepare for. Perhaps we’ll see more option runs to try and confuse the Rams’ front and create some space for Eddie Lacy and Thomas Rawls, who will presumably fill in for the injured Chris Carson.

Next: The Biggest Game of the Year So Far

A win on the road against their division rivals will be huge, especially because it will tie the Seahawks with the Rams for the lead in the NFC West. I fear the offense will struggle against the Rams’ talented defensive line.