Continuing our series of offseason opponent breakdowns following the 2021 schedule release, theRams.com examines Los Angeles' Week 5 road opponent and Week 15 home opponent, the Seattle Seahawks.
Leading into the season, Seahawks fans campaigned for their team to "Let Russ Cook," or let quarterback Russell Wilson be himself. Their voices were seemingly heard, and the early returns promising: Wilson tossed 19 touchdowns against only three interceptions and played like an MVP candidate, leading Seattle to a 5-0 start.
However, after a 1-3 stretch followed – a win over the 49ers but losses to the Cardinals (overtime), Rams and Bills – that saw Wilson post a 9-7 touchdown-to-interception ratio during that span, the Seahawks appeared to go for a more balanced run/pass approach. It seemed to yield the desired results, though: Winning six of their final seven games to clinch the NFC West and the No. 3 seed in the conference playoff picture.
Regardless of the perceived offensive adjustments, and even with safety Jamal Adams – whom the team acquired in a blockbuster trade in late July – and midseason acquisition and defensive end Carlos Dunlap on defense, it wasn't enough to advance in the playoffs, as sixth-seeded Los Angeles won 30-20 in the wild card round to end Seattle's season.
The Seahawks re-signed defensive end Carlos Dunlap II, who was acquired in a midseason trade with the Bengals, to a reported two-year deal after allowing Dunlap to explore free agency earlier this offseason. Dunlap had five sacks in eight games with Seattle last year.
Seattle's new additions included a pair of former Rams – it signed tight end Gerald Everett to a one-year deal after hiring pass game coordinator Shane Waldron as its new offensive coordinator. Waldron replaced Brian Schottenheimer, whom the team parted ways with the day after that playoff loss to the Rams due to philosophical differences.
Seattle also acquired offensive guard Gabe Jackson from the Las Vegas Raiders in exchange for a fifth-round pick in this year's draft, and signed defensive tackle and former 2016 first-round pick Robert Nkemdiche, cornerback Pierre Desir, and defensive end Aldon Smith prior to the draft.
In terms of departures, the Seahawks released starting defensive tackle Jarran Reed.
Pete Carroll enters his 12th season as head coach of the Seahawks, compiling a 112-63-1 regular season record through his first 11 years with the franchise. Seattle has qualified the playoffs nine times so far during Carroll's tenure, with two Super Bowl appearances (2013, won and 2014).
What to watch for
Rams defense vs. Wilson and the Seahawks' receivers
More specifically, Rams edge Leonard Floyd vs. Wilson, and cornerbacks Jalen Ramsey and Darious Williams vs. D.K. Metcalf and Tyler Lockett.
Like the Cardinals, these two games against the Seahawks are why the Rams have Ramsey and brought back Floyd and Williams. Floyd's length is what helps contain Wilson when he escapes the pocket to try to make plays off-schedule, as well as Wilson's throws from various launch points. The value of having players like Ramsey and Williams patrolling the secondary against a pair of 1,000-yard receivers was also evident.
For the Rams to come away with back-to-back division wins on a short week in 2021, they'll need repeat performances from 2020 from that trio.