The start of the 2020 NFL season will be here before we know it. The Dallas Cowboys come into the 2020 season with a week one matchup against a familiar opponent, the Los Angeles Rams. Getting to know each opponent of the 2020 season will become an ongoing mission as we lead up to the start of the 2020 season.
On the offensive side of the ball, the Rams have made some significant changes this offseason. The biggest change Rams’ fans will notice is that the Rams have brought in an offensive coordinator to assist with development of the quarterbacks. Kevin O’Connell coached in Washington and will provide the eyes that head coach Sean McVay would like on quarterback Jared Goff. In 2019, Goff had a solid season passing for 4,638 yards, 22 touchdowns, and 16 interceptions. Goff played well for the Rams, so the offensive problems that plagued the Rams last season were not all related to the play of the quarterback.
The Rams’ rushing attack is going to look different this season. Todd Gurley was released during the offseason and the Rams will be breaking in a new running back. Gurley only managed to rush for only a meager 857 yards last season, however he was consistent in the red zone punching the ball in the end zone 12 times. Replacing Gurley this season will fall upon the shoulders of Cam Akers, Malcolm Brown, and Darrell Henderson Jr.
Akers, Brown, and Henderson Jr. will all get their share of carries. During the 2019 season, Akers was the most consistent component of the Florida State offense, rushing for 1,144 yards and 14 touchdowns. Malcolm Brown was effective in the red zone for the Rams last season punching the ball in five times and rushing for 255 yards. Darrell Henderson Jr. rushed for 147 yards last season. The Rams are searching for a featured back to carry most of the load as the game against the Cowboys approaches. Cowboys’ fans should expect to see Akers get plenty of opportunities to win the starting the job.
The Rams have a talented group of wide receivers in place for the 2020 season. Opposing defensive coordinators do not have to look far to find the number one receiver for the Rams in the form of Cooper Kupp. Kupp has been terrific for the Rams. Last season, Kupp hauled in 94 receptions for 1,161 yards and 10 touchdowns. The Rams passing game will challenge many defenses during the course of the season and the Cowboys are the team that gets the first look at them this season.
Kupp is not the only receiving threat for the Rams. Robert Woods posted impressive numbers for the Rams as well. Woods was on the receiving end of 90 receptions for 1,134 yards and two touchdowns. Durability has not been a concern for Woods, Woods has missed only one game the past two seasons. In addition, Josh Reynolds has seen plenty of time when replacing some of the other wide receivers and he will have an excellent chance to see the field for the Rams this season.
Rams’ tight ends will see a fair share of the passes that Goff throws this season as well. The Rams have two quality tight ends in Gerald Everett and Tyler Higbee returning this season. Everett hauled in 37 passes for 408 yards and two touchdowns last season. Meanwhile, Higbee was on the receiving end of 69 passes for 734 yards and three touchdowns. The Rams receiving corps and the tight ends will not have a problem being a consistent weapon for Goff if the offensive line can give him time to throw the ball.
Going into the 2020 season, the Rams’ offensive line is one of the big question marks that the offense will face this season. Los Angeles went through nine different starters last season and the Cowboys will have the opportunity to show different blitz looks and attempt to confuse a youthful offensive line. Likely starters along the offensive line include Brian Allen at the center position, Austin Blythe at either the left guard or right guard position, Austin Corbett will have an opportunity to win the left guard spot, Rob Havenstein was doing a solid job at right tackle before an injury derailed his 2019 season and he will have the opportunity to win back the job this season, and at the left tackle position, Andrew Whitworth will likely be watching Goff’s blindside.
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For all the changes occurring in football, the Rams’ defense will stick to the 3-4 this season, but a change in coordinators could have an impact on the look of a talented defense. Any time a defense includes Aaron Donald, it is only natural that it will be talented group. However, LA’s defense is disruptive with or without Donald, and this will be a group that will keep the Rams in contention in the tough NFC West.
Heading into the 2020 season, coaching changes have occurred with the Rams defense. Wade Phillips is no longer the Rams defensive coordinator. Phillips was replaced by Brandon Staley. This will be Staley’s first stint as an NFL coordinator. The Rams keeping the 3-4 defense in place will allow the players to have some familiarity with how it will look despite having a new coordinator when they square off against the Cowboys.
The Rams’ defensive line is perhaps the most talented unit of the team. Aaron Donald, Michael Brockers, and newcomer A’Shawn Robinson will create havoc for opposing offensive lines. Donald, is perhaps, the best player in the NFL and his disruption of both the running and the passing games is impressive. The Dallas offensive line will have its work cut out for them against the Rams’ defensive line.
Los Angeles has big question marks in 2020 when it comes to the linebacking corps. The Rams released Clay Matthews and Cory Littleton, and while Dante Fowler departed via free agency. Dallas fans should look for the Rams to send Kenny Young to man one of the linebacking spots. Micah Kiser will return this season and Troy Reeder will have a chance to see the field again this season as well after playing in all 16 games a year ago. In addition, Travin Howard has been consistent in the Rams linebacking corps and will have a chance to start this season for the Rams.
The Rams’ secondary must determine who will replace Eric Weddle as the safety position. Taylor Rapp was impressive at the other safety position and will have a long career in the NFL provided the injury bug doesn’t hit. Jalen Ramsey is the marquee shutdown cornerback for the Rams, and he will likely draw the assignment of trying to contain Amari Cooper. Los Angeles has a secondary that will present challenges for opposing quarterbacks.
The Rams are not that far removed from being a Super Bowl participant and this is a dangerous team that must not be taken lightly. Dallas will have a tough job pulling of a win on the road in week one. However, the Cowboys are looking to prove that they are a different team, and a win in Los Angeles will go a long way in serving notice to the rest of the league that this will not be the same old Cowboys in 2020.