Nothing quite matches the first week of regular season football. A new year, a fresh start, and all sorts of expectations and predictions to live up to or debunk.
The Rams’ trip to the east coast for week one against the Carolina Panthers was no exception. Rams’ detractors pointed to the travel as a potential issue for the defending NFC Champions to overcome. This was an issue: why? Because NFL teams don’t usually travel for half of their season’s games, um, nope. No matter as Rams’ Head Coach, Sean McVay must have had his players tucked in nice and early the night before the game.
Rams quarterback, Jared Goff was solid but unremarkable and running back Todd Gurley, who shared carries with Malcolm Brown, logged 97 yards on 14 carries with a four-yard reception as well as a pair of fumbles-one negated by a holding penalty.
The heart-stopping surprise moment came in the second quarter. After Carolina powerhouse, Christian McCaffery caught a short pass, Rams, newly acquired safety, Eric Weddle, moved in for the tackle. As McCaffery jumped to avoid contact, his knee drove into Weddle’s helmet. After play stoppage, Weddle sat up, bleeding excessively from a head laceration. Rams trainers carted Weddle from the field, and he did not return. Rams issued a statement that Weddle was receiving an evaluation for a concussion. The situation warrants a good deal of attention as Weddle recently signed with Los Angeles with expectations of him filling a key spot in the Rams sputtering defense.
Many observers, I included, were looking to this game as a litmus test of the revamped Rams defense. As predicted, Aaron Donald got plenty of attention from the Panthers offensive line, and this opened the door for Dante Fowler to get a pair of sacks and three hits on Cam Newton. Clay Matthews was not as dominant as many expected and will need to turn up the volume to drown out his critics.
The Weddle injury was the attention grabber of this game which was a good matchup against two talented teams. The 30-27 score shows the effort these teams put into their inaugural game of the NFL’s 100th season. The game marks coach McVay’s third win in a season opener.
The New Orleans Saints will be in town for a matchup next Sunday at 1:25 p.m.