Behind enemy lines: Rams Insider Nate Latsch talks Week 2 matchup with Redskins

Insight on the Rams end of the RG3 trade, all-everything DT Aaron Donald and the key matchups in the latest Washington-St. Louis meeting.

Each week Breaking Burgundy checks in with a media member or interested party of the Washington Redskins' next opponent for the "Five W" questions. With the 1-0 St. Louis Rams in Washington for the Week 2 matchup, we check in with Nate Latsch, publisher of Scout.com's Gridiron Gateway 

WHO do you think serves as Rams captains this week? Yes, this is basically my way of asking about last season’s maneuver  when Jeff Fisher sent out the players acquired in the Robert Griffin III trade.

 

Jeff Fisher said this week he probably would be going with the season-long captains — Nick Foles, James Laurinaitis, Robert Quinn, Johnny Hekker and Daren Bates — that were picked by the players. 

 

“Probably going to be the captains that were elected by their teammates,” Fisher told reporters following Tuesday’s practice. “Since you guys didn’t notice it last year anyways.” 

 

I included the quote in case Fisher trots out the same group he did last season. Going back to when that happened before the last meeting, I honestly don’t know if he was trolling the Redskins with that move or just like a show of appreciation for those players. I’m sure the two fan bases interpret it in two completely different ways, though. 

 

WHAT is the impression of the RG3 trade from your end considering Griffin no longer starts, but Washington did win a division title in 2012 while St. Louis hasn’t reached the playoffs?

 

I think the Rams definitely won the trade, but it’s probably not as clear cut as it could be had they drafted better with the picks they received and considering they have yet to make the playoffs or even post a winning record since that deal. RG3 did that, of course. 

 

The Rams ended up with eight players as part of that deal, but only four of those are currently starters: defensive tackle Michael Brockers, cornerback Janoris Jenkins, linebacker Alec Ogletree and offensive tackle Greg Robinson. Time will tell with those guys, too, because all four have been kind of up and down. They’ve shown flashes of being really good players, but have also struggled. 

 

WHERE do you rank Aaron Donald among the NFL’s best defensive linemen at this point?

 

Donald is clearly stating his case as the best defensive lineman on the Rams, which is saying something because defensive end Robert Quinn is a two-time Pro Bowler with 40 sacks in the past three seasons. 

 

But Donald is a more consistent and disruptive force than Quinn and he has racked up 10 sacks in his last 12 games, which is an incredible number for a defensive tackle. 

 

I think everybody can agree that the hierarchy of defensive lineman in the NFL starts with J.J. Watt of the Houston Texans. But after that you could make a case that Donald, even though he’s only in his second season, is just as good if not better than anybody else. 

 

And when you consider how much money some defensive linemen are making, starting with Ndamukong Suh’s monster free agent deal this summer, Donald is one of the best bargains in the game. For now.

 

WHEN do you think Todd Gurley makes his NFL debut?

 

I’ve lost count of how many times I’ve been asked this over the past few months on radio interviews, from fans or from friends looking for some kind of secret strategy to use during their fantasy drafts. 

 

I thought all along that the fourth or fifth game would be a logical target because that’s about when the Rams turned to Zac Stacy during his rookie campaign two years ago and also Tre Mason when he was a rookie last season. 

 

Fisher hinted on Tuesday that we could see Gurley this week, but they’ve been so cautious with him I don’t know if they’d do that. Gurley has been taking reps with the first team this week and looks good, but playing in regular season games is a lot different than running around in shorts on the practice field. 

 

WHY will the Rams win or lose this game?

 

There’s certainly the possibility for a huge letdown after an emotional overtime win against the Seattle Seahawks in the season opener, but I think the Rams will win because of their defense and specifically the pressure they can apply with their defensive line and blitz scheme. 

 

The Rams sacked Russell Wilson six times last week, including two apiece from Donald and Quinn, and forced Wilson into an interception with another well-timed blitz. I’m sure Washington will try to run the ball often and get the ball out out of Kirk Cousins’ hand as quickly as possible, but he’s obviously a less mobile player than Wilson is and could be susceptible to the pressure. 

 

The Rams offense should get a boost this week with the return of running back Tre Mason and the potential season debuts of Gurley and wide receiver Brian Quick. 


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