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Not surprisingly, healthy LA Rams offensive line vastly improved

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The LA Rams offensive line passed the first test. Now the team must face a dangerous Philadelphia defensive front

The LA Rams offensive line needed a good season opener to silence their loudest critics of the offseason. Was it enough?  Perhaps, perhaps not. But the performance against what appears to be one of the more talented assemblies of defensive front talent was unmistakable. The Rams were able to run the ball, and the Rams were able to pass the ball.

The game had a few surprises. The  Rams running game went 40 carries for 153 yards, while the Dallas Cowboys rushed 27 times for 136 yards. The Rams scored twice on the ground, while the Cowboys rushed for just one touchdown.

Rams questions are answered

Perhaps the most rewarding aspect of the debut was that the LA Rams seemed to answer some of their questions about their offensive line.  Can the Rams offensive line open holes in the running game? Can the Rams protect Jared Goff?   Will the Rams offense get back on track?

The answers to all three questions are yes, yes, and Yes. While it is still early in the season, the Rams had a difficult draw in the opener against a fresh Cowboys defensive line.  The result was very impressive.

While the two biggest question marks for the offensive line, right tackle Rob Havenstein and left guard Joseph Noteboom, did not put on a stand out performance for the Rams, that’s okay.  The Rams offensive line first and foremost must pass the optics test. In the Rams’ first game, it did, with flying colors.

Well schemed offense

As we learned in a very well written analysis by our very own John Vogel, the LA Rams offensive game plan entered the game prepared for a fast pass rush and used that Cowboys pinning-their-ears-back to their advantage.  The Rams did not ask more of the offensive line than it was able to do. And yet, by doing so, the Rams offense was very efficient in a game where rust was always a risk.

The Cowboys did eventually tap their blitz packages to try putting more pressure on Goff, and it was effective at times. But in the end, the Rams did enough to win a very important game and did so in commanding fashion.

Next up – Philadelphia

The 1-0 LA Rams must now take their newly found confidence on the road to face the 0-1 Philadelphia Eagles. After facing a gifted Cowboys front four, the Rams offensive line must now face an even tougher Philadelphia Eagles defensive line. While the starters may be questionable for game two, the group of Derek Barnett, Jason Hargrave, Fletcher Cox, and Brandon Graham is likely one of the toughest matchups for the Rams this season if healthy.

if you followed the Eagles loss to the Washington Football team, you know the story was about eight sacks given up by the Eagles offensive line, and two interceptions thrown by quarterback Carson Wentz.

The Eagles front-four may be better than that of Dallas

What you may not have tracked is that the Eagles had three quarterback sacks of their own, 2.5 of which came from their defensive line. Combine that with the seven rushes Haskins made by scrambling from the pocket, and the picture comes into focus. The Eagles front four can put a lot of pressure on the quarterback.

Not only that, but Washington was only able to run for 80 yards on the day. That includes Haskins 17 yards due to scrambles. While the final score was Washington 27 Philadelphia 17, it was Washington’s 27 point run of unanswered points that sealed their victory.  Some are already patting themselves on the back claiming the offensive line is back.  I think the signs are promising indeed. But the Rams face a much tougher assignment on the road facing a tremendous Eagles defensive line desperate for a win.

Next: NFL Rumors have it that Robert Woods is next up for LA Rams extension

We’ll touch base again on this one.  A great appetizer. But week two is where the LA Rams offensive line is served the main course.

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Did Teddy Bridgewater help or hinder the Panthers in Week 3?

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(Photo by Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images) Teddy Bridgewater

Did the performance of quarterback Teddy Bridgewater help or hinder the Carolina Panthers during their Week 3 win at the Los Angeles Chargers?

The long wait for a win is finally over for the Carolina Panthers. A fine effort saw them come away from SoFi Stadium with a notable 21-16 success at the Los Angeles Chargers in Week 3 that might propel them to bigger and better things going forward.

This is not going to be easy by any stretch of the imagination. The Carolina Panthers are bracing themselves for a clash against stud quarterback Kyler Murray and the Arizona Cardinals next weekend. With the Atlanta Falcons, Chicago Bears, and New Orleans Saints also upcoming in the next few weeks.

If new head coach Matt Rhule can get his young roster to build momentum, then there might just a chance the Panthers can become a nice surprise at this stage of their rebuild.

There is much work to be done, but this will do Carolina’s morale going forward a tremendous amount of good.

Quarterback Teddy Bridgewater is going to be a key component in any success that comes their way. The signal-caller provided a reliable presence under center for the Panthers at the Chargers in a solid if not spectacular performance that ultimately came down to a dramatic stand from the defense in the dying moments.

There is a lot of scrutiny on Bridgewater during what is his second chance at a starting opportunity. The early signs have been mainly positive, but did the former first-round pick help or hinder the Panthers during an elusive first victory of the campaign?

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Chicago Bears: 3 overreactions after Week 3 win at Falcons

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The Chicago Bears lost their first game of the season and the world is burning

I wrote the bulk of this intro before the Chicago Bears came back and won. In fact, I’m actually going to leave my headline and copy below it to show just how bad of a hole the Chicago Bears were in. So here it is.

Everybody knew that this Chicago Bears team wasn’t quite ready to make a Super Bowl run. They scraped by two bad teams that have not been impressive this year. The team hasn’t been the same team that we saw in the past couple of years. They’ve essentially played one quarter in both of their games to this point.

As I’ve said though, they’ve been able to win up until now. And perhaps that has been enough for the Bears staff to avoid making any big changes. But as Week 4 is in the rearview mirror, all of that went down the drain. Chicago finally lost a game as their fourth-quarter comeback fell short.

Despite the fact that they almost came back, this should not be a result that anybody is proud of. The offense looked dead for most of the game against a Falcons defense that was riddled by injuries and just plain bad, even without injuries. The defense struggled against a Falcons receiving core that didn’t have the most talented receiver of his generation in Julio Jones.

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Bengals’ tight end Drew Sample will be a key player against the Eagles

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As the Bengals seek their first win of the season, tight end Drew Sample will have to make a big impact against the Eagles.

After an offseason full of optimism, the Cincinnati Bengals find themselves without a win through their first two weeks of play. On Sunday, they will have another chance to get rookie Joe Burrow his first career win over another winless team in the Philadelphia Eagles.

To come away with a win for the first time this year, the Bengals will need tight end Drew Sample to have a big day. The second-year tight end has already put together two solid performances, but will need to continue his upward trend in week three.

Going into the Bengals’ week two matchup against the Browns, Sample was not the starting tight end in Zac Taylor’s offense. However, after a devastating injury to C.J. Uzomah that took him out for the season, Sample will be Cincinnati’s top tight end for the rest of the year.

In Uzomah’s absence against the Browns, Sample had an impressive showing. With 7 receptions and 45 yards, the 2019 second-round pick was tied for a team-high in catches on the night.

Week three features favorable matchups for Drew Sample

Leading the team in receptions against the Browns, it is clear that Sample is a player that Burrow trusts. The two will need to continue having a solid connection to exploit the Eagles’ weakness against tight ends.

Through just two games, the Eagles’ defense has already given up four touchdowns to tight ends. Against Philly, Logan Thomas of the Washington Football Team found the end zone once in week one while Los Angeles Rams’ tight ends scored three times in week two.

The Bengals have not been strong in the red-zone so far this season. If they can utilize Drew Sample against the Eagles in the same way Philadelphia’s first two opponents have, it could be the key to turning things around in the money zone.

However, Sample won’t only be needed as a pass-catcher. He will also be needed as a blocker, which is considered by most to be his biggest strength.

According to Pro Football Focus, Sample has a run-blocking grade of 67.7 after two games. With star running back Joe Mixon struggling to get anything done on the ground so far this season, Sample will be crucial as a blocker if the Bengals want to get him going.

With an overall grade of 74.4, Sample is PFF’s #14 tight end after two games. In his first full game as a starter, he should be able to exploit the Eagles’ defense for the best game of his young career.

To avoid starting with an 0-3 record for their second straight season, the former second-round pick Sample is going to have to step up in a big way.

Next: Joe Mixon is finding more success running to the right

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