McVay’s magic won’t fall short
While you can expect the Chicago Bears defense to throw a few curveballs in this one, they won’t have the monopoly on magic. Of course, we expect that the LA Rams offense to show off some of the tricks up their sleeves too. Well, for starters, the Chicago Bears’ defense shut down the Rams offense in 2018, winning by a score of 15-6 that year, and became the defensive template for what the New England Patriots defense did in Super Bowl LIII later. McVay hasn’t forgotten.
Since that time, McVay has been his most creative when facing the Bears. In 2019, he deployed seldom-used tight end, Johnny Mundt, in practically every way possible, and scratched out a win. In 2020, Mundt became a target in the passing game, and the Rams turned to Josh Reynolds, Gerald Everett, and Malcolm Brown to get to the end zone for crucial touchdowns.
This year, the LA Rams have the entire NFL’s attention by opening the season with the prime-time national stage of Sunday Night Football. On this stage, in this opener, LA Rams head coach Sean McVay will not run a run right, run left, short pass up the middle, punt offense. Oh no. I expect that much like Dallas Cowboys quarterback Dak Prescott and Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback Tom Brady, Rams quarterback Matthew Stafford could open up the season with 50+ passes. If you are the Chicago Bears, you don’t want this one to become a shooting match. So it just makes sense for the LA Rams offense to try to turn this into a high-scoring affair.
But how will the LA Rams handle the Bears pass rush? Like the Rams, the Chicago Bears run a 3-4 defensive front that sends one of the two edge rushers after the quarterback. Most often, that fourth pass rusher will be Mack. In the 2020 matchup, the Rams threw 33 times and rushed 34 times. That distribution will likely fall closer to 50 passes and 25 rushes in this one.
The Rams have a host of players who could be heavily involved in this one, but I expect the heavy lifting will be done by tight end Tyler Higbee, wide receiver Cooper Kupp, and a few deep tosses to wide receiver DeSean Jackson. As long as the Rams offensive line can handle not making mental mistakes or penalties in this one, the Rams offensive line should hold up well. If that happens, the offense will have a good chance of scoring points.