FBG says: Great matchup. The Los Angeles Rams struggled mightily to move the football against the San Francisco 49ers last weekend. These struggles are excusable, however, as the 49ers have yet to allow more than 20 points in any game this season. The Rams' struggles along the offensive line, however, cannot be written off as a one-game issue. Throughout 2019, the Rams have been one of the NFL's worst pass-blocking teams. The ripple effects of their pass-blocking deficiencies can be felt throughout the entire Los Angeles passing attack. Jared Goff has seemingly regressed from the levels he reached in 2018, but the root cause of his struggles is likely the amount of pressure he faces in the pocket. In 2018 and 2019, Goff's numbers are very similar when passing from a clean pocket, where he thrives. His production while under pressure is also similar between the two seasons, although it is far worse, as is the case with almost every NFL quarterback. The most significant change from year-to-year is the rate at which he is under pressure: in 2019, he is being pressured at a much higher rate, which damages his overall efficiency as a passer. Nonetheless, Goff is equipped with an elite group of pass-catchers. Cooper Kupp leads the entire NFL with 69 targets this season, which he has converted into 522 yards and 4 touchdowns. Robert Woods is not far behind with 51 targets, 31 receptions, 355 yards, and 0 touchdowns. Woods' target, reception, and yardage numbers all imply he should find the end zone sooner, rather than later. Brandin Cooks trails Kupp and Woods as arguably the league's best number-three receiver. Cooks is the Rams' best deep threat, as he leads the team in air yards, but his target numbers lag behind that of Kupp and Woods. In recent weeks, tight end Gerald Everett has emerged as a significant threat for the Rams with 9 catches on 16 targets for 145 yards. On the whole, Los Angeles has one of the league's deepest groups of pass-catchers. The overall consistency and production of their passing attack, however, is hindered by a horrific offensive line. Against dangerous pass rushes, Jared Goff will likely continue to struggle to distribute the ball. Fortunately, the Atlanta Falcons, the Rams' week seven opponent, struggle on that front.
The Atlanta Falcons are 1-5 so far in 2019, and their struggles can largely be attributed to one of the NFL's weakest pass defenses. The Falcons rank 31st in the NFL in net-yards-per-attempt allowed, 30th in touchdowns allowed, and 27th in interceptions so far in 2019. Also, the Falcons have already allowed 3 different quarterbacks to throw for at least 300-yards this year. Along the defensive line, Grady Jarrett stands out as the Falcons' undoubted defensive leader. Jarrett is one of the best pass-rushers in the NFL amongst interior defensive linemen, but his supporting cast lags far behind. The Falcons struggle mightily to generate pressure, as shown by their league-worst five sacks through six games. Deion Jones is one of the league's best athletes at the linebacker position, which he makes full use of in pass-coverage. But, while Jones is an above-average defender against the pass, the rest of the linebacking corps has been exposed as a severe weakness for Atlanta. Finally, in the secondary, there are few weaker units in the NFL than that of the Atlanta Falcons. Cornerbacks Isaiah Oliver and Desmond Trufant are both extreme liabilities in coverage. No matter what scheme or coverage the Falcons have utilized, there have been numerous breakdowns from both players leading to receivers getting wide open down the field and underneath. Atlanta's safeties are also significant weak-links in coverage. Ricardo Allen is a run-oriented safety that thrives at and around the line-of-scrimmage but falls short down the field tracking wide receivers. Kemal Ishmael, on the other hand, is horrendous in all facets of the game. He was initially Keanu Neal's backup, but after Neal suffered a season-ending achilles injury, Ishmael has been exposed as one of the league's worst safeties.