Are The Rams A Playoff-Caliber Team?
There have been 23 games in which a quarterback threw for more than 500 yards passing in the NFL. The very first time it happened was in 1951 when Los Angeles Rams QB Norm Van Brocklin threw for 554. The Rams trounced the New York Yanks, 54-14 that day and the record still stands. In week 4 against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, another Ram QB joined the 500+ club.
Jared Goff threw for 517 yards. He also threw three interceptions and fumbled late in the game to seal the win for the Bucs. If football was simply about amassing passing yards, this list might mean more about quality quarterbacking. Unbelievably, the Qb’s on this list are collectively 13-10 in these games. Jared Goff’s performance this game is the Rams season in a nutshell. When you lose, no one cares about stats.
The Rams were picked as one of the favorites to get to the Super Bowl this season, but after three losses (two losses within their division) there is a chance the Rams won’t even make the playoffs. A 26.3% chance to make it according to USA Today. Making the playoffs and playing like a playoff-caliber team are two different things. There have been quality football teams that have missed the playoffs in the past, although, a three game losing streak is a good time to sound the alarm bells. Last week, the Rams front office did just that, making some bold moves to shore up their underperforming defense and attempt to add depth to their offensive line.
Trading two first round draft picks for Jalen Ramsey shows that they are committed to winning right now. Furthermore, those moves show that, at the very least, the Rams have clue as to what’s wrong with the team. Apart from Aaron Donald, the defense has looked average this season. Ranking in the middle in both passing and running yards allowed. They rank 8th worst in total points allowed. Adding the All-Pro defensive back will be a tide that raises all boats. Ramsey’s presence will give the defensive line more time to get to the QB.
Adding Center Austin Corbett is a step in the right direction, but won’t be much more than a band-aid for the awful offensive line. The defense has to take some blame for the losing streak, but the offensive line has been the Achilles heel. Pre-season PFF rankings put the Rams O-line at 13, by week four they dropped to dead last. Last season, the Rams started the same five linemen through the regular season and playoffs.
This offseason the line was overhauled and it seems the new look line never found the same cohesion. As 14-year veteran and starting tackle, Andrew Whitworth put it “The frustrating part with that, or any line that’s new together and has young guys, you’re going to have ups and downs. You look across the offense, all of us are really in that same rod of making just little mistakes that we just aren’t accustomed to making, and that’s not on the young players — it’s on everybody.” Their penalties have gone up significantly and the pass block win rate has plummeted, ranking 24th.
They were embarrassed by the 49ers in week six, giving up four sacks and 11 QB pressures on 25 pass attempts. It’s a well-known fact that pressure makes Goff a bad quarterback. Against the Niners, he threw for 78 yards, the fewest yards he’s thrown in his career.
Unfortunately, without a competent line, the Rams are not a playoff-caliber team. It makes it too easy for teams to get in Jared Goff’s grill and stifle the running game. Despite the poor line play, the Rams have held their own against some good teams. They played well against the Saints and Panthers and lost by one in a heartbreaker in Seattle. Luckily the schedule gets a little easier for the next three games. Atlanta, Cincinnati, and Pittsburgh are a combined 3-15.
Perhaps the week 9 bye and some easier competition will allow the genius of Sean McVay to shine and get the Rams back into the playoff-caliber team they have been. Some bad things will have to happen in Seattle and San Francisco, but it all starts with winning in Los Angeles.