The Los Angeles Rams and quarterback Matthew Stafford took the field in Week 1 as an underdog with significant concerns about the reigning Super Bowl champions. Following a disastrous loss in the NFL Kickoff game, there are now more reasons to worry about Los Angeles in 2022.
Entering the 2022 NFL season, the defending champs have posted a 19-3 record in the opener. Not only did the Rams lose on Thursday night, but they also suffered the second-largest in a season opener by the reigning Super Bowl champions, per NFL research. The 21-point defeat at home to Buffalo likely would have been even worse if not for three early turnovers by the Bills.
It’s normal for there to be unexpected outcomes in a season opener. In Week 1 last year, the New Orleans Saints crushed the Green Bay Packers 38-3 and the Bills lost 23-16 to the Pittsburgh Steelers. A year prior, the Jacksonville Jaguars knocked off the Indianapolis Colts and then went on to lose 15 consecutive games.
However, the outcome in Los Angeles on Thursday night felt different. It emphasized the concerns many had regarding the Rams heading into the season. While there is still plenty of time for Sean McVay and Co. to address the problems, the issues could prove costly at crucial times this season.
Los Angeles Rams’ offensive line is an Achilles heel against elite teams
Von Miller immediately made an impact in his first game against his former team. The future Hall of Famer was highlighted by the Sunday Night Football broadcast boost as the biggest loss the Los Angeles Rams suffered this offseason. However, the retirement of Andrew Whitworth might have been just as costly for this offense.
Miller (two sacks) made his presence felt on Thursday night, going right after left tackle Joe Noteboom. It showcased how the 27-year-old left tackle will struggle against some of the best pass rushers in the NFL. However, Noteboom is far from the only problem on the offensive line in Los Angeles.
The Bills sacked Matthew Stafford seven times in Week 1 and never blitzed on a single snap, per Next Gen Stats. It’s tied for the fourth-most sacks in a game without blitzing by a defense since 2016. Interior pressure was the most glaring issue, with defensive tackle Jordan Phillips (six pressures, 1.5 sacks) causing the most damage. Furthermore, edge rusher Greg Rousseau (one sack) and A.J. Epensa (1.5 sack) also kept the Rams’ offense out of rhythm.
Los Angeles also found little success rushing the football. Outside of an 18-yard run by Darrell Henderson, the Rams’ rushing attack averaged 2 ypr on 17 attempts. Combined with the 15 quarterback hits Stafford suffered, it was an all-around disastrous performance.