Ed "Pi Double i" Henderson
The Los Angeles Rams play host to the Los Angeles Chargers today at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum. A game that is expected to have a sellout crowd presumably to become the first "Battle of LA," between the die-hard Rams fans, and as many believe the Chargers fan base will show up in low numbers.
The Chargers are a seven-point underdog in today's game but don't think for once that they will be a pushover. They have talent on both sides of the ball as veteran quarterback Phillip Rivers will lead the Chargers offense. Phillips has been around the block for some years, as the Rams last played the then San Diego Chargers, he engineered a fourth quarterback comeback to beat the Rams.
Rivers have behind him in the backfield is running back Melvin Gordon the third year from the University of Wisconsin was selected eight picks after the 2017 NFL Offensive Player of the Year Todd Gurley. Gordon is just as an explosive back like Todd Gurley, who runs well inside the tackles and catch the ball well out the backfield.
Three seasons ago, Chargers head coach Anthony Lynn, was the offensive coordinator of the Buffalo Bills and also served as the interim head coach when the Bills front office fired Rich Oneil. Lynn executed a great game plan against the Rams exposing a defensive line that was minus 75% of their starters. Going into the week, were Michael Brockers, William Hayes, and Robert Quinn who all were nursing injuries that landed them as inactive players. The Bills ran the ball inside the tackles, and LeSean McCoy ran crazy throughout the game.
Lynn's Chargers faces a different challenge today as his offensive line will already be without his starting right tackle Joe Barksdale, will see a defensive line that will feature three first-round selections and dominates offensive lines. A defensive line that features the 2017 NFL Defensive Player of the Year Aaron Donald, Ndamukong Suh, and Michael Brockers, is enough to be concerned with before adding the final front seven of the Rams defensive squad.
The defensive line has good substituting players who can come in provide pressure too such as former first-round selection, Dominique Easley, and Ethan Westbrook. Easley, converted to linebacker this season, plays the edge, and he creates havoc for the offensive side of the ball. A former interior defensive linemen, he has the strength and power to overwhelm any back or tight end that is assigned to contain him potentially. He has enough speed and strength to give any offensive linemen problems with one-on-one pass rushes.
Westbrook is the swiss army knife defensive lineman who can play anywhere on the defensive line. At the nose, he's too fast for any center to try to block and at the end or tackles spot, he a repertoire of moves to create pressure to the backfield. We can't sleep on Matt Longacre, before injuring his back last season, he was a terror from the edge. He's provided that same spark this season as the Chargers will have to account for presences too.
To speak on the strength Rams secondary, a great challenged with receiver Keenan Allen and tight end Antonio Gates can cause some issues. Allen for the first time in his career played a full season had career numbers hauling in 103 receptions, 1,393 yards, six touchdowns, and was targeted 159 times by Rivers. No question that he's Rivers favorite target, but not to exclude his safety blanket in his tight end, Antonio Gates.
Gates an eight-time pro bowl selection has played his entire career with the Chargers. He lost his job to Hunter Henery last season as his stats were low. However, an injury to Henery, the Chargers after not resigning Gates, quickly renewed his contract to play again this season. Gates is not the verticle stretch he once was but, he can still catch the ball and can create a mismatched with any safety or linebacker. Injured Rams linebacker Mark Barron played well against Gates in the last matchup, but he's out again with his Achilles.
The Rams secondary is licking their chops for Rivers, especially Marcus Peters, who has intercepted River four times in his career. The Chargers possess two receivers who can threaten the Rams defense in Mike and Tyrell Williams, both who are 6'4" and can stretch the field vertically. The speedster Travis Benjamin, who is
listed as questionable with a foot injury, is the one receiver who can kill the Rams defense in numerous ways if they don't account for him.
Benjamin can catch a short slant, the screen, or run the reverse and take it for the distance. His speed is so dangerous in a single man route and takes the top of the defense and for the long vertical pass. However, it doesn't stop there as he's a DANGEROUS return man as well. The Rams have a counter to that with two safeties in LaMarcus Joyner and John Johnson III, who have played well in that defensive backfield in both the pass and run. We're confident that Wade Phillips has prepared for the potentially deep ball from the Charger's offense.
Not too much to say about the Rams offense, as defenses have seen two different styles of playing calling in the recent weeks. We can make this very simple, stop Todd Gurley, who can weaken the offense. Wait--- but if they accomplished that, well then who will stop Brandin Cooks, Robert Woods, and Cooper Kupp--- oh and Gurley from the backfield? Derwin James and Casey Heyward, the best two defenders on the Chargers defense, can't cover all the Rams weapons.
I expect to see the second-year tight end Gerald Everett and receiver Josh Reynolds getting targets today and hurt the Chargers defensive backfield. It just not a certain on what Coach Sean McVay draws up on the offensive side of the ball today, but I will say, get your front row seats whether you are watching from home or the Coliseum along with your popcorn because it will be one great show. Chargers may start out fast, but the Rams defense will bear down and their offense will control the clock late.