Perhaps the Los Angeles Rams read from the Book of Necronomicon Ex-Mortis, Valek joined the team on the way to Dallas, Jerry World being built on an ancient burial ground, or it was just a plain old no good very bad day.
Either way, the Rams sucked today. Especially the Rams defense.
There’s no other way to say it and now that Matthew Stafford might be done for a while, maybe it’s time to pack it in. What started as a better-than-expected season is quickly devolving into the season the “Faleb for Caleb” crowd wanted all along. What’s annoying is that the game had the makings of something the opposite of a slaughter as the Rams opened things up with a sack. But once a second sack on third-down was negated by a phantom call the game was dragged to hell.
At Least the Rams have a Kicker…
There weren’t a lot of silver linings today but one of them is that it looks like the Rams solved their kicker problem. Lucas Havrisik was 2/2 today! Sure, it’s a small sample size for the pride of Riverside but on a day like today it’s important to remember Zombieland rule #47: “Enjoy the little things”.
Derion Kendrick is Consistently Awful
It remains unclear why Kendrick has a starting job in the Rams Defense let alone A JOB but he does and it’s everyone’s problem. He got burnt like Freddy Krueger all day! He can’t cover, he can’t tackle, and he can always be counted on to get a PI penalty.
So what exactly is the reason why the Rams defense can’t start Tre Tomlinson or Duke Shelley in his place? Sure, he wasn’t the only member of the Rams’ secondary to get lit up like a Jack O Lantern by CeeDee Lamb (12 catches, 158 yards, only one TD somehow) but he’s the worst corner they have. They need to change it up at least. Jordan Fuller was gifted a pick but other than that it was an absolutely poor showing. Even Ahkello Witherspoon got mutilated by Brandin Cooks.
The Rams Defense: Pass Rush Needs Help
Aaron Donald had his first multi-sack game since last year’s Dallas game and Michael Hoecht had the opening sack of the game. Unfortunately, it didn’t take an injured Dallas line to adjust and the pressure stopped.
There’s debate as to whether the Rams should trade a second-round pick for Chase Young so they have a blue-chipper to pair with Donald. Byron Young would’ve had a sack if not for that aforementioned phantom call on the opening drive but still. The young defense can’t generate consistent pressure so of course Donald is getting double and triple-teamed all day.
Having a Chase Young would at least force coordinators to plan for someone else and then it would also solve the “Michael Hoecht is too slow on the edge” problem as well. It’s also not a good sign when Christian Rozeboom leads the Rams defense in tackles. The point is the Rams defense needs a BOOST.
The Offense Has Weirdly Regressed Since Kupp Came Back
In no way shape or form is this an indictment of Cooper Kupp, Puka Nakua, or any of the Rams’ other receivers (well except Tyler Higbee but more on him later). The Rams have a Ghidorah at wide receiver and YET struggle to make it work. Tutu Atwell doesn’t get targeted or used enough, although his throw to Stafford today on a two-point conversion was creative. The play-calling isn’t utilizing what they have nor is it adjusting for when Stafford is under siege and isn’t maintaining balance.
The two scoring drives at the end of the half and the start of the second half were the type of drives that the Rams need to have. There was balance and more than Kupp and Puka were involved. Ben Skworonek actually made a play as a receiver today. Royce Freeman scored a touchdown, and both he and Henderson ran well when used.
The problem was by the time those things happened the game was over. The first drive had the makings of something positive but afterward, they couldn’t make the Dallas D sweat unless it was from running back a pick-six. The yards are there every week but they can’t score. Drives stall like a 92 Geo Metro at the worst possible times and Sean McVay doesn’t trust his offense apparently and settles for a field goal.
Or when he does go for it he doesn’t run the ball even with a backup quarterback. The defense was supposed to struggle while a retooled offense carries the day. The opposite is happening. Darrell Henderson can’t lead the team in receiving yards no matter who they’re playing.
The Back-Up QB Situation is Worse Than Expected
It was weird when the Rams drafted Stetson Bennett in the fourth round. He’s the oldest rookie since Dennis Quaid and tragically has issues that are keeping him from the team. Issues that were known at the time he was picked. If he was to be the third-string QB then fine but no he was Plan B if Stafford went down.
Their only other option was Brett Rypien because again, Bennett is away from the team. Stafford is a tough bastard. He always plays through pain and while he looked good on the opening drive of the second half both throwing a TD and catching a two-point conversion, his thumb was in bad shape and he shouldn’t have been playing.
The Rams don’t have much in the way of cap space but some of it should’ve gone towards a veteran backup. Stafford gets beaten up A LOT so an injury was inevitable and the lack of preparation for that is gross negligence. He’s 35 and while he’s “faster” than he’s been he still can’t outrun the pressure when the levees break.
The line was in for it with Rob Havenstein being out and now the Rams are likely without Stafford for a while if not the rest of the year. Rypien is not the answer unless the question is “How do the Rams get a top-ten pick?”
Tyler Higbee Is In Rapid Decline
On one hand, Tyler Higbee was the second-leading receiver on the day. But on the other hand, he still had his trademark drop and injury at the worst possible time. His hands stopped working a year ago and got worse after he signed his extension.
The thinking was likely that the Rams had failed to find a tight end in the draft and Hunter Long was found out to not be a real person. So by default, he’s their best one and while he’s a decent blocker his receiving skills have evaporated. The extension was to free up cap space and keep an asset rather than have him be a low-end comp pick at best. If they can trade him (doubt it) they should think about it because he’s not reliable. It hurts to say but it’s true.
It’s Weirdly Not Time To Panic
Sure, today was awful. It was so bad one could think it was directed by Uwe Boll. But that doesn’t mean the Rams should burn it all down, bottom out, fire everyone, or trade all the stars or whatever.
The NFC is atrocious and that seventh seed is going to go to SOMEONE. They should still try and compete because it’s good for the young guys and if they did get a seventh seed it’d go a long way towards laying a foundation for next year’s reloaded team.
If Stafford is out then the tanking dilemma will work itself out organically because Rypien isn’t winning them anything.
After today’s game, that sentiment might seem crazy but it’s not. Until today, they hadn’t been blown out, and even against the elite teams they were in it until the fourth quarter. They’re often their own worst enemy in those losses so it’s not like they’re the Carolina Panthers.
Wanting to tank isn’t really about wanting the best pick possible but a way for the softer fans to emotionally disengage from the season. If Stafford can play they should try to get the most out of the team but again if he can’t then congratulations to everyone who quit on the team in April you get your wish and get to be “right”.