The story heading into the Green Bay Packers/Los Angeles Rams divisional matchup this weekend is pretty clear at this point: the Packers have an elite offense and the Rams have an elite defense. Who will win? The unstoppable force or the immovable object?
But the B-side to that story is interesting as well. Sooner or later, the Rams will get a shot at moving the ball, and they have historically moved it quite well under offensive mastermind Sean McVay.
How can the Packers stop them? To see if there’s any chance, we turned to Kenneth Arthur of Turf Show Times for some inside information on the Rams’ offense.
Acme Packing Company: Jared Goff seems like he’s going to be ready to play on Saturday. Who should be more scared: Packers fans or Rams fans? Is there a part of you that secretly hopes you get to see the Rams go with their emergency quarterback at some point? Because that would be awesome.
Kenneth Arthur: The Rams will either start Goff or John Wolford on Saturday. The emergency option would be Blake Bortles. Wolford and Goff are both dealing with ailments, but I’m guessing that Goff will start. I think that’s fine, though it doesn’t do much to move the needle for me as opposed to Wolford. The short primer on Wolford is that he was an undrafted free agent out of Wake Forest in 2018, he played in the short-lived AAF in 2019 and did so well that the Rams signed him when the league folded. He was on the practice squad last season and he spent all of 2020 as the backup. When Goff broke his thumb, Wolford started in LA’s win over the Cardinals in Week 17. He is more of a spread quarterback than Goff, and I believe that makes the rushing attack suffer. I don’t think Goff will be asked to throw much and when he does, it will be high percentage passes. I think either Goff or Wolford are capable of giving the minimal amount of effort the Rams need at the QB position.
APC: Sean McVay and Matt LaFleur are two of the highest-profile branches on the Shanahan coaching tree, and you can’t go 30 seconds in a discussion about that particular style of coaching without talking about the run game. What makes the Rams’ ground game go, and what should the Packers do if they hope to force the Rams to beat them through the air?
When Goff or someone is operating under center, we’ve seen LA’s run game work a lot better. That’s why I’d be wary of Wolford starting, though he brings his own element of a rushing attack that Goff doesn’t. Wolford is quick and nimble from what little we’ve seen of him. But with Goff, rookie running back Cam Akers has been exceptional. A second round pick out of Florida State, Akers didn’t become the starter until the second half of the season when the offense was slumping, and he’s really been the spark they needed. He missed some time with injury and played poorly when Wolford started, but then he was dominant against the Seahawks in the wild card round. A healthy Akers, a healthy left tackle Andrew Whitworth, a competent play-action passing attack, should help the Rams be able to run the football well. Akers is great.
APC: Who’s your favorite Rams player to watch on offense? And what under-the-radar names should the Packers be watching?
KA: Definitely Akers in the second half of the year. He hasn’t been used much in the receiving game but as a runner, he’s explosive and dependable. That draft pick has proven to be a perfect hit up to this point. Cooper Kupp is highly dependable on third downs and Robert Woods is difficult to stop when he gets a head of steam going. Under the radar, I suppose I could point to Gerald Everett. The fourth-year tight end has flaws, but every so often has the impact that the team was hoping for when they drafted him.
Stay tuned for part two of our Q&A about the Rams defense on Friday.