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Woods And Johnson Look To Have Good Outing Against The Lions

Headed from the bye into week 13, the Los Angeles Rams face a very unique task of keeping pace while also playing the role of leader of the pack. Robert Woods and John Johnson both will be abundantly important to the success of The Rams through the stretch run of the season. With The Rams now sitting as king of the hill following The Saints loss Thursday night, how do The Rams playmaker step up?

Robert Woods

Following Monday’s epic hundred plus matchup, Robert Woods and the Los Angeles Rams will be taking a road trip to Detroit to face The Lions. Currently sitting at four and seven, Detroit may be a team to overlook following their loss to future opponent Chicago. Detroit has shown a tendency to bite even as the underdog with victories over the Carolina Panthers and the dynastic New England Patriots. They now present a very formidable task lead by Coach Matt Patricia.

So Far This Season

60 yards behind high-flying teammate Brandon Cooks with 904 yards and tied for the team lead in receptions with 59, Robert Woods stepped up big in Week 11. As always, his performance to some extent was very understated in the shadow of the hundred points scored and Tyreek Hill’s/Brandin Cooks incredible performance. Robert Woods was targeted 11 times and secured 4 receptions for 72 yards and 1 touchdown.

“We’re Onto Detroit”

Stepping up this week will be a tall task for the Rams and Robert Woods, who some view as the true number one receiver while trying to acclimate the likes of Josh Reynolds and Pharaoh Cooper with the big loss of Cooper Kupp.

Currently, Detroit is ranked (5th) overall in the NFL for least receptions surrendered to receivers with (124). Detroit ranks 15th in yards allowed by the secondary (1,657), and the Lion’s pride ranked 4th worst for touchdowns surrendered.

Making The Most Of The Moment

Robert Woods should have an opportunity to make some big plays against Darius Slay and Teez Tabor who struggled against Carolina. But experienced coordinator Patricia will look to keep the timing routes the Rams have used to free Woods, off target. Much like the pressure applied by the Kansas City secondary to disrupt the pace and play-action passing, if Robert Woods can’t find the ball early, the Rams passing game could run into issues. We should expect to see a highly productive Sunday from Woods and the offense as they look to continue their dominance.

John Johnson

John Johnson, strong safety for the Los Angeles Rams, currently ranks second on the team in tackles with (74) total and (48) solos. The start to his season was very quiet as well as filled with adversity for number 43. At every turn, Johnson has managed to take his minor setbacks and bounce back with oomph. After what, for some, was a shocking rookie season from Johnson, where he earned all-rookie team honors, Johnson arguably has stated his claim to be called one of the best secondary defenders not only in the NFC West but arguably at the safety position in the NFL.

Keeping Up With The Changes

Again, much like teammate Robert Woods, Johnson playing amongst an abundant group of stars has managed to stay consistent often times under immense pressure, particularly in a new NFL that is changing based on scheme where scores and oftentimes the pace of play is like a mixture of basketball and soccer.

The days of old when secondaries played in the back-end, waiting to come down and lay big hits on playmaker’s across the middle, has changed. Pure big-hitting safeties have been replaced with a blend of athleticism, size, and football IQ. John Johnson for the Los Angeles Rams mirrors the likes of Harrison Smith, Malcolm Jenkins, Landon Collins, Ha Ha Clinton-DixTyrann Mathieu, and others.

Hybrid Defender

Johnson represents the same game with a different name, not as critically acclaimed as some of the names coming out of bigger colleges as he was drafted out of Boston College. But once you step on an NFL field, baller’s ball, simple as that. Often matching up against a variety of offensive weapons over the season, he’s patrolled the back end for the Los Angeles Rams covering tight ends, running backs, slot receivers, and wide receivers.

On a defense full of talent, but still not playing quite to their expected level, Johnson has played the role of fill-in man from Week 1 to this point. The Rams started the season dealing with injuries in the linebacker corps and started without Mark Barron. The first four games of the season we saw John Johnson playing a lot in the box making a lot of tackles (31) as well as assisted tackles (11).

Keeping Pace In Space

With the way schemes have changed over the last 10 years, offenses attack not only deep down the field but they attack with misdirection sweep motions and quick screens. Not because coaches like the way the plays look, but because much like guarding the likes of Kyrie Irving and Steph Curry, every short motion sets up the big shot.

Sensory overload is now a play in the NFL’s playbook and space is to be factored, Johnson has kept up without a hitch in his step. Johnson’s unit ranks (11th) in receptions allowed to WR, and (20th) in yards allowed, against QBs they rank (16th) in completions allowed and they are currently (9th) in touchdowns allowed to QBs with only (10) given up.

He’s continued to show excellent route recognition and coverage skills. Along with being a sure tackler, the pairing makes his presence felt every Sunday.

On the season Johnson leads The Rams defense with (3) Interceptions and (8) passes defended.

Stepping Up Monday Night

Moving from a review of his play and production to a short spotlight on his performance in the epic Monday Night game in Week 11. Johnson recorded (11) tackles including a key goal-line stop on Kareem Hunt that factored into the difference on the scoreboard in a game of inches; Johnson defends every blade of grass with fire.

This Weeks Matchup

Against The Detroit Lions Johnson’s job won’t be easy even with the Lions seemingly throwing the towel in on the season trading Golden Tate and losing Marvin Jones to IR. The Lions, led by Matt Patricia and Matt Stafford, will not make Sunday easy but without the traditional arsenal for Stafford, the Rams should prevail led by the most consistent player in their secondary. If Johnson can help facilitate a clamping of Detroit’s run game and dominate the passing game fueled by the return of Aqib Talib, it could be a productive day against the pass-happy Lions.

Sports Al Dente 2019

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