The Rams' defensive line was the biggest surprise on this side of the ball. Rams fans did not know what to expect from these guys lining up next to All-Pro veteran defensive lineman Aaron Donald, but once again the Aaron Donald effect took over. The defensive line was able to get a surprising amount of pressure on Geno Smith causing him to miss receivers or throw the ball away. The pressure from the defensive line resulted in a half sack for DL Aaron Donald, rookie OLB Byron Young, OLB Michael Hoecht, and NT Kobie Turner. They were also largely responsible for holding Seattle to 2-9 on third downs.
Defensive Front Grade: A-
DB Derion Kendrick
Remember when I said the Rams' secondary was a strength? Well, I’d be remiss to let the play of cornerback Derion Kendrick slide without criticism. Kendrick arguably had the worst play in the Rams’ secondary. He was flagged for not one, but two huge pass interference penalties in the game. He was also responsible for allowing the Seahawks' only touchdown in the game, on a play in which WR D.K. Metcalf burned him with a slight stutter move for a 10-yard touchdown. In fact, Kendrick posted the second-worst PFF grade among Rams DBs after week 1 (57.6) and ranks 58th of 92 among all NFL cornerbacks. While it is only one game, if he has another game like today, then I could see Tre Tomlinson getting his time to shine in the near future.
Derion Kendrick Grade: D-
Overall team performance
Despite some poor areas of performance, it is difficult to give the Rams anything less than an A+ for their win today. They meshed well as an overall unit on the field today and dominated a team they were expected to lose against. They also had some great performances from some of their younger, inexperienced players. The way this young Rams roster performed in Week 1 should give Rams fans hope for the future, but they are still far from being considered Super Bowl contenders.
Rams fans should remember that while the Seattle Seahawks were a Wild Card team last season, they only finished one game above .500. Beyond that, the Rams have an excellent track record against them in recent years winning 12 of the last 18 meetings.
The Rams will have a tougher go of it over their next four games in facing the San Francisco 49ers (who played in last year’s NFC Championship Game), Cincinnati Bengals (who played in last year’s AFC Championship Game), and the Philadelphia Eagles (who played in last year’s Super Bowl). Their only reprieve occurs in Week 4 when the Rams travel to face the Indianapolis Colts.
If the Rams can steal a couple of wins over this stretch, then they will certainly deserve some respect. Rams fans should prepare for the real possibility however, that the Rams could very well be 2-3 through the first five weeks of the season.