LA Rams SNF home opener vs. Bears: 5 things to look for
Now that’s it’s been officially announced that the LA Rams will play their first game of the season against the Chicago Bears on September 12, 2021, in a prime-time Sunday Night Football contest, the easy thing to say, the low-hanging fruit, is to view it as a matchup between LA Rams All-Pro defensive lineman Aaron Donald and Chicago Bears All-Pro outside linebacker Khalil Mack, two of the brightest defensive stars in the game. Last season, the Rams handled this team rather handily in a 24-10 win, in a home game victory played before no LA fans.
But this one is a mulligan. A chance for fans to see the Rams play at home, once and for all. The game to be played at the $5 billion-plus palatial So-Fi Stadium, which is finally about to lose its new car smell. For many fans, this has been a very long wait. The LA Rams want to make it worth it.
The Rams have taken two out of the last three contests played against these Bears, so they have that going for them, as well.
And so we look forward to this match-up for many reasons. And here’s five:
Observation 1. The Chicago defense, for whatever reason, seems to play well against the Rams offense. Therefore, should we expect head coach Sean McVay to show up at his creative best, both in his game-planning and intra-game play-calling? Perhaps we will see just how much creativity he has brought to the 2021 offense. It’s time to walk the talk, McVay. Will he feature RB Cam Akers? Will he deal a heavy dose of 12-package offense? The excitement is palpable.
Observation 2. It’s the debut of Raheem Morris as the LA Rams defensive coordinator. Please show me, demonstrate to me, that your time in Atlanta was a blip on the radar screen of your career. Because that team down in the ‘Hotlanta Metroplex doesn’t play defense. So while you did have a stop there, I’d not want the words “defense” and “Atlanta Falcons” to appear anywhere on the same resume, least of all for a defensive coordinator.
It’s probably unrealistic to expect this Rams defense to stay Top Dog Defense for the entire season, but perhaps they can be dominant and oppressive for just for this game? Start off the season on the right foot. Baby steps. It’s awfully difficult to stay on top or repeat as the Numero Uno ranked anything in the NFL, let alone in any sport (just ask the LA Lakers right about now, the champs reduced to a “play-in game”, SMH.)
Observation 3. It’s also the debut of offensive line coach Kevin Carberry as he assumes the role after a very popular Coach Aaron Kromer. Surely he feels Rams fans’ collective angst and apprehension about the state of the team’s offensive line. The team’s depth begins and ends with its offensive line starters. Thin, Thinner & Thinnest of depths. If you can call it depth at all. Reassure us by the O-Line’s play in this game that the area the Rams have just dug in their heels and refused to address (because they like the guys they have already on their roster as backups, wink wink) will not come back to haunt them. Bite them in the buttocks. Wake up a year from now and ‘Poof!’, half will walk out the door to the NFL Free Agency to find a decent paycheck.
You know, something about “The 7Ps: Prior Proper Planning Prevents Piss-Poor Performance.”
Just ‘cuz you say the OL is in good shape and that you have confidence in its depth, doesn’t mean it’s so. And the NFL is Not-For-Long for a reason. Is the future only so far as 2021, guys? We are all from Missouri on Day One. Show me.
Observation 4. Obviously, it’s the big-top debut under the bright lights of SoFi Stadium for new Rams QB Matthew Stafford. He knows the Bears defense well, and they know him. So if the Bears coaches are to be believed, it comes against Andy “The Ginger” Dalton, who I just cant ever remember doing very much anywhere, ever. (Of course, the same could be said about Stafford, who seems to get a pass for never taking a team to the playoffs himself, either). And in my mind is that last image from last season of Dalton in a Cowboys uniform crumpled up on the ground after a dirty hit, for which his own teammates were too big of cowards to even bother retaliating for. Guess you didn’t exactly have a very strong hold on the locker room down there in Big D, now did you, Andy?. Nobody had your back. Buehler? Umm, Buehler?
Maybe if Dalton plays his usual ho-hum uninspiring game, then we could see ex-Rams quarterback Nick Foles take over at halftime. As a starter, he’s not so much, but insert him into the middle of the game and he’s nails. Nails Foles.
Although it’s nice to think the Bears first-round draft pick in rookie quarterback Justin Fields might see the field, it might be considered cruel and unusual punishment to insert a rookie QB with zero NFL experience into the lion’s cage to tangle with the likes of the Rams DT Aaron Donald in their first game. The head coach would get roundly criticized for such a move, and their head coach Matt Nagy is already on the hot seat before the Bears season even begins.
Observation 5. This marks the first game at So-Fi with bonafide, honest-to-God, living and breathing real fans in the stands. No more cardboard head cutouts, faux fans, plastic fan facsimiles (we hope). The return of genuine, real, authentic crowd noise instead of piped-in artificial crowd noise that’s about as aggravating as a television laugh track (for a show that isn’t funny).
The Bears defense won’t be able to hear our play calls at the line of scrimmage (we hope). But SoFi Stadium will truly provide LA Rams fans the greatest show in the NFL. Of course, that only happens if the Rams follow the script and deliver a convincing win at home.