‘Be Prepared:’ Rams Legend Warns of Future Attacks on OL Unit

Matthew Stafford

Getty Matthew Stafford of the Rams gets sandwiched between David Long Jr. and Harold Landry of the Titans during the Rams' Week 9 home loss.

One former Los Angeles Rams quarterback sent an online warning to his former team following the Tennessee Titans loss — a message equipped with the hashtag “be prepared.”

The reason? The 28-16 loss on Sunday Night Football may have reopened the Rams’ version of Pandora’s Box.

Former Ram Jim Everett, who earned one Pro Bowl nod and guided the Rams to the 1990 NFC Championship game, took to Twitter to reveal his film study of the Rams’ performance. And what he discovered: How the Rams’ front protection got exposed…and why opposing teams will use the Titans’ blueprint, which came from the top mentor of the Titans’ head coach, to rattle the Rams.

Pressure & Penetrating of Gaps

Here’s how the Titans’ pressure fared going against the Rams in the 12-point win via Next Gen Stats:

Everett, who threw 142 of his 203 career touchdown passes as a Ram according to Pro Football Reference, saw how the Titans got their five sacks. He looked beyond the fact Tennessee head coach Mike Vrabel opted for just four blitz calls.

Instead, Everett noticed how the Titans played the gaps along the line of scrimmage.

“After review, Tennessee’s Coach Vrabel’s D strategy was to pressure A gaps with linebackers, stacking the GCG (guard, center and guard) gaps with defensive linemen, twist & stunts versus (Sean) McVay’s offense…and it worked,” was what Everett explained in his tweet.

And it was an approach that looked all too familiar from the 2019 Super Bowl from Everett’s eyes.

“Remember Coach (Bill) Belichick doing similar tactics,” Everett posted.

Then came the warning: “This will be repeated by future opponents. #BePrepared.”

Here’s one example that points to what the 58-year-old Everett is describing: Titans defensive tackle Jeffrey Simmons is one of three trench defenders lined up across the A through C gaps to the left of the Rams. Titans linebacker David Long Jr. is lined up over the A gap between center Brian Allen and guard David Edwards by showing blitz. Long Jr. backs away after the snap, but the 6-foot-4, 305-pound Simmons penetrates through the taller 6-foot-6, 308-pound Edwards and in the process, snatches Matthew Stafford for one of his three sacks.

While these series of highlights shine more on Simmons’ impact, the first clip shows how Denico Autry takes advantage of Allen’s head turned the other direction — which allows Autry to slip through the A gap and force the sack of Stafford.

And, this clip at the 11 second mark shows another example of gap disruption: Autry, the edge defender, first works against right tackle Rob Havenstein. However, Simmons comes crashing through the opening in the B gap and Autry is there right behind him to complete the sack.

One last example: Simmons owns the A gap and Allen on this one-on-one encounter:

Per Pro Football Focus, Allen surrendered two sacks his side. And, he now has this stat following the SNF loss:

But one more thing noticeable in all of the Stafford sacks: There’s no running back help from Darrell Henderson and Sony Michel — who have been highly skilled at blowing up and picking up oncoming blitzers or trench penetrators.

How the Ex-Ram Would Respond

As a QB himself, how would Everett get an offense to counter a gap pressure scheme featuring DL stunts?

He was asked that question. And part of one of his answers: Avoid dropping back to throw.

Lineman twists and knifing through the inside gaps propelled the Titans to dominate the trenches. Everett is one who believes more opponents — starting with the next one on Monday Night Football the San Francisco 49ers — will operate the same scheme to throttle L.A.

But the most important counterattack in Everett’s mind? Just execute better inside, shared here.

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