LA Rams game one defense could depend upon CB Darious Williams
The LA Rams lost their 2019 contest to the Dallas Cowboys in a rather embarrassing manner. The Rams failed to stop anyone running with the ball, and while they were able to shut down the Cowboys’ primary receivers, they failed to shut down their third and fourth receiver options. When the Cowboys needed a first down, they ran the ball.
But when the Cowboys needed to score? They threw to WR Tavon Austin, or to Jason Witten. Dak Prescott didn’t complete many passes in that game. Just 15 completions to be exact. But four landed in the arms of Jason Witten, one for a touchdown. Three landed in the arms of Ezekiel Elliott. Two completions went to backup tight end Blake Jarwin, two to backup running back Tony Pollard. And finally, one went to WR4 Tavon Austin.
Of course, the Cowboys rushing game decimated the Rams defense. The Cowboys rushed 45 times for 263 yards and three touchdowns. That was not just a Herculean effort by running back Ezekiel Elliott, but a career outing by his backup and teammate Tony Pollard. Elliott needed 24 rushes to grind out 117 yards and two touchdowns. Pollard needed just 12 carries to put up 131 yards and one touchdown.
But there are two different forces working against the Cowboys running attack in game one. For starters, starting center Travis Frederick retired, leaving the role to his backup Joe Looney. And Cowboys La’el Collins starts the season on injured reserve, forcing Cameron Erving into a starting role for the Cowboys. Meanwhile, an ESPN story suggesting that Rams DL Aaron Donald is ‘just average’ in run defense has awoken the sleeping dragon.
As long as the defense can hold Ezekiel Elliott under 100 yards, it becomes a Goff versus Prescott kind of evening. How will that play out?
Rams pass Cowboys passing attack
As much excitement as the Dallas Cowboys have over rookie Cee Dee Lamb, the Rams are just as excited about their rookie Van Jefferson. After all, the Rams secondary is a pretty talented group right now and will be looking to make a statement in the opening game. The Cowboys lost their star Byron Jones to free agency and will count heavily upon rookie Trevon Diggs in the opener. That could be a difficult assignment.
On the flip side, the Rams will likely place Darious Williams on Cowboys veteran WR Michael Gallup. Since the Rams will have Jalen Ramsey and Troy Hill on the Cowboys primary wide receivers, the battle of the evening for the Rams could be how well Williams defends the Cowboys. Williams actually had a pretty good game against the Cowboys last season.
Williams may be smallish for a cornerback. But his coverage skills are elite. And he has an instinct that seems to keep his body between the receiver and the ball. The battle to watch in the opener is Gallup vs. Williams. Gallup will get his catches this year. But it won’t be against the Rams.