Rams Winners And Losers: Week Four
The Los Angeles Rams seemed to have hit their stride in Week Three but sprinted directly into a wall in Week Four. After losing to the Cardinals 37-20 in their own building, the Rams have their work cut out for them. While the team may have had a rough outing, some players had great days for themselves. Here’s a look at some of the winners and losers from Sunday’s game against the Arizona Cardinals.
Darrell Henderson missed last week with a rib injury and his status for this game was in question. Not only did Henderson show up, but he also displaced a heating-up Sony Michel and looked like a starter. He rushed 14 times for 89 yards, averaging 6.4 yards per touch. With Henderson back in the fray and playing well, the running back can continue his mission for 1000 yards to raise his market value when contract negotiations begin. If he can hit 1000 yards this season, he may even get a shot to take on Cam Akers for the long-term starting role next season.
Going into 2021 after a whisper-quiet season, Van Jefferson was praying to have a breakout year. While he isn’t coming anywhere close to Cooper Kupp‘s numbers, he is setting new records for himself. After Sunday’s performance, Jefferson already passed his total rookie season production for the entirety of 2020. Last season, Jefferson had 220 yards and a touchdown. This season, Jefferson has 226 yards and two touchdowns. At this rate, Jefferson will have 960 yards and about eight touchdowns this year, which would be enough to give him a long leash in the NFL.
Until Sunday, some Rams fans may have forgotten that Robert Woods is on the team. Compared to last season, Robert Woods has completely fallen off in 2021. That is, before Sunday. Woods had four catches for 48 yards and a touchdown. The touchdown looms large for Woods as it may have been enough to remind Sean McVay to use him more often. Woods will be hoping to build on the game this Thursday against the Seattle Seahawks, who have the last-ranked defense in the NFL.
Until Sunday, Michel had been building week over week. In Michel’s first game with the Rams, he had one carry. In his second game, he had ten carries. Last week, Michel had 20 carries. With Henderson’s injury, Michel was hoping to get more opportunities to prove he could be the starting running back for the Rams ahead of Henderson. However, this week showed that Michel’s efforts have been in vain as Henderson came back and stole the show on Sunday. He also took away Michel’s carries, forcing him to be content with three attempts in nearly a season-low.
“The next two games will be telling in if the Rams’ offense has been unmasked.”
Alas, it could not continue forever. While Cooper Kupp didn’t have a bad game, he hit the brakes pretty hard compared to what he had been doing over the last month. In Sunday’s loss, the Cardinals held Kupp to his worst totals of the season. He had five catches for 64 yards. With the drop in production, Kupp fell to fifth on the leaderboard for receiver yardage totals. Kupp is still on pace for a season-best 1831 yards and 21 touchdowns, but not if he continues to have the same level of production as he had against the Cardinals. Luckily for Kupp, he will get another crack at it in just a few days as the Rams play on Thursday Night Football.
For DeSean Jackson, last week was one of the most memorable games in years. He had three catches for 120 yards and a touchdown. However, against the Cardinals, Jackson may as well have watched the game as he only had one catch for six yards. Jackson is looking at the Seahawks’ last-ranked defense as a great opportunity to run it back and get a massive play in front of the entire NFL on Thursday Night Football.
Sean McVay’s Scheme
Sean McVay’s scheme may be the biggest loser of the week as the Cardinals seemed to be one step ahead of the Rams at every turn. On the play in which Matthew Stafford was intercepted, the Cardinals were waiting for the throw and had the receiver draped in coverage. The Cardinals’ game will be studied by other teams in an effort to figure out the “McVay” offense in the same way the game against the Bears was studied to figure out the “Jared Goff“ offense. The next two games will be telling in if the Rams’ offense has been unmasked. With only four days to plan, it may not be enough time for the Seahawks to adapt and fully analyze how the Cardinals stopped the Rams. However, by Week Six, teams will be able to identify why the Rams struggled and how they can duplicate the results.