It was an exciting Sunday for the Los Angeles football teams, but a day that ended negatively for both teams, unfortunately. However, I’m a glass-half-full guy, and there were plenty of positives demonstrated by both teams.
The Rams erased a 25-point deficit to take the lead with around 4 minutes left in the game. A questionable defensive pass-interference call put the Bills in a first and goal situation that they converted to win the game.
The Chargers had a shakey overall performance but had an opportunity to win the game on the final drive on the shoulders of their rookie quarterback.
Here are some glass-half-full takeaways from LA Football Week 2. Let’s kick it off with the Rams…Chargers fans feel free to skip ahead or gain some knowledge about your cross-town/in-house rival.
LA Football Goes 0-2, But Future Looks Bright
Jared Goff Impresses With Great Game
Head Coach Sean McVay said after the game that he thought QB Jared Goff played his best game of the season thus far, and it wasn’t close. Goff finished 23/32 for 321 yards, two TDs, and one interception. The pick was the one blemish on an otherwise very solid outing.
Goff looked poised in the pocket throughout the game and made some acutely accurate throws into some very tight windows. He was instrumental in the 25-point comeback and demonstrated that when the offense is balanced, he can be one of the better quarterbacks in the league. In fact, through 3 weeks, PFF has him graded as the number 3 QB in the league, behind only Aaron Rodgers and Russell Wilson, respectively. The Goff slander must stop!
Sean McVay’s Improved Play-Calling
One of my biggest critiques of Coach McVay’s play-calling last year was the lack of variety, and how quickly he would abandon the run, even in games when they were still within a possession or even tied. Blame it on whatever factor you choose, but it was a big reason as to why the offense took a big step back last year.
This year, McVay has held firm with his commitment to the run, running it 40 times in week one, 39 in week 2, and 32 times in this week 3 matchup against the Bills. 32 rushing attempts in a game that the Rams were down by 25 points!
By not abandoning the run early, the Rams offense was able to stay balanced, and it opened things up for Goff and the passing game. Once an offense becomes one dimensional they are essentially doomed. Sean McVay overcame some past mistakes and gave his team an opportunity to overcome a huge deficit and pull off an unimaginable win.
The Defense Made Adjustments Mid-Game
Throughout the entirety of the first half, and the beginning of the second, the defense was playing flag football, or perhaps ultimate frisbee. After allowing 28 points early into the 3rd quarter, the defense woke up and clamped down. John Johnson III picked off Josh Allen (controversial or not) and that seemed to be the spark that set the fire ablaze.
The offense roared to life and the defense, thanks to another monster performance from Aaron Donald, finally got some pressure on Allen, finishing with four sacks as a unit.
This was the whole reason Brandon Staley was brought in, to make adjustments on the fly. Whatever the defense was doing early was not working. The Bills were moving the ball at will and almost began resembling the Chiefs…
The defense held Buffalo to 101 total rushing yards, which was right around their season average, but they held Allen to just 8 yards rushing; he had 76 yards between the previous two games.
Overall, Staley’s unit had a pretty rough day (anytime you allow 35 points it’s hard to find too many positives), but the fact that they turned things around in the 3rd quarter and allowed the offense to catch up, at the very least, suggests some positive growth for the future.
And now on to the Chargers game…
Justin Herbert Is The Real Deal
It’s only been two games, but this is the glass-half-full takeaways and this kid is going to be special! The stage certainly does not seem too big for Herbert who finished with another 300-yard passing performance and a 71 percent completion percentage. His final two drives of the game were extremely poised, the first ending with a touchdown, and the second ending with a failed hook-and-ladder that would have won the game after beginning the drive on their own 1-yard line.
I always try and put respect on the name Philip Rivers, but for most of his career, at least the final few years, in the biggest moments he had a knack for throwing game-ending interceptions. In just two NFL games, Herbert has stepped up in the biggest moments and gave his team a chance to win.
It wasn’t all positive as Herbert did throw an interception early in the game (just a poor decision), and had a fumble (could be debated that it was an incomplete pass but ruled a fumble). But I look to the way that he battled back and kept his team in the game and made some big-time throws. Look no further than his touchdown strike to Keenan Allen.
Nasir Adderley Flashes Potential
When the Chargers selected Adderley in the 2nd round of last year’s draft there was a lot of hype surrounding the pick. Unfortunately, he missed almost all of last season due to injury, so this was the year that we would finally see his talent pair with the great Derwin James. Well, not so fast, as Derwin James went down in training camp, so it would be Nas paired primarily with Rayshawn Jenkins.
In his first two games, Adderley made a few “rookie” mistakes, one being over-pursuing Joe Burrow in week one that led to Burrow’s first NFL touchdown (rushing), but overall he has looked fairly good. In week 3 he looked even better. As the Free Safety, Adderley is the last line of defense. Overall, he did well to limit the big play (Bridgewater had two 20+ yard passes to D.J. Moore, one resulted in a field goal and the other a punt) and was around the ball a lot. He finished the game with nine total tackles.
Adderley demonstrated that he can hold his own as the free safety and he will only continue to grow within the defense.
The Bolts Are Better When The Ball Is In Austin Ekeler‘s Hands
I don’t think the national media will ever say the name Austin Ekeler in the same breath as Christian McCaffrey or Alvin Kamara, but they really need to start giving the guy his due. The dude can flat-out play and the offense is better when the ball is in his hands. He finished the game with 12 carries for 59 yards and a touchdown, and 11 receptions for 84 yards. For those counting, he finished as RB5 in fantasy ahead of guys like Dalvin Cook, Nick Chubb, and Aaron Jones.
Currently, Ekeler is seeing a snap percentage of 66. I have really loved what I’ve seen out of rookie Joshua Kelley so far, but I would still like to see Ekeler’s snap percentage even higher.
He runs with tremendous vision and always turns in a positive play. He is also such a tremendous safety net for Justin Herbert; it’s easy to rack up yards when you can dump the ball off and let your back do the work.
This offense is in very good hands and is only going to continue to get better. Next week they face a very good pass rush in Tampa Bay. Herbert will need to lean on Ekeler in this one.