Was it pretty? No. Was it frustrating? Yes. Was it what the Los Angeles Rams needed at this very moment? HELL YES. Look, after the offense hit rock bottom last week, they not only took care of business (albeit late) against a tanking Carolina team and headed into the bye with a lot to look forward to.
Today’s game not only revived Allen Robinson but the running game which game is ranked 32nd with an average of 62 yards/game actually got over the century mark today. Matthew Stafford had a pick-six but showed that with a bit of time good things were possible, and the defense didn’t give up a touchdown today.
Also, (more on this later) the rest of the NFC is deeply flawed so it’s wide open right now. The Rams are 3-3 heading into their bye week and towards the end of the game found an offensive groove for the first time in God knows how long. So with all the eulogies, anger towards Sean McVay and Les Snead, and bitterness towards the “F— DEM PICKS” era, things aren’t as bleak as they looked a week ago.
The Rams were down 10-7 at the half because after hitting Allen Robinson on a fade in the end zone, Stafford threw a pick-six. He tried to force it to Cooper Kupp and paid for it. The offense looked discombobulated and SoFi wasn’t saying BOOOOURNS as the first half ended. They went three and out again to start the half but afterward, they got it together.
McVay also must have felt that the play-calling was about as stale as the last two seasons of “The Goldbergs” and started implementing jet sweeps. Ben Skowronek got his first career touchdown on a rush and later Darrell Henderson had a goal-line rush to seal the deal. Despite losing Joseph Noteboom to an ankle injury the line largely held up. Stafford (26/53, one touchdown, one interception) was only sacked ONCE.
The receiving game was actually balanced and everyone contributed. Cooper Kupp (7 catches 80 yards) led the way but the bigger story was Allen Robinson with 5 catches 63 yards and a TD. Not only that but he was key in setting blocks and had a 50/50 catch that showed why the Rams signed him in the first place.
The rushing game got going once they committed to Darrell Henderson (12 carries, 43 yards TD) but Malcolm Brown, Skowronek, Brandon Powell, Kupp, and Tutu Atwell all succeeded in jet sweeps. The rushing game had 111 yards combined which is miraculous considering how dire and broken it was. This is after Cam Akers was essentially put on the trade block and is guaranteed not to be in the horns again.
Sure, this was a Panthers team that is TANKING. They fired Matt Rhule last Monday and were starting third-string QB P.J. Walker but the Rams still needed to show up today. It took a while and it wasn’t easy at first but they came through.
Defensively, the Rams were pretty much lights out. They allowed zero touchdowns and Nick Scott ended their interceptions drought. Jalen Ramsey had his second consecutive sack and Marquise Copeland was able to get in there with a sack. Ernest Jones led the defense with seven tackles including a German Suplex on Christian McCaffrey. They only allowed 93 combined rushing yards which is a gigantic improvement after the Cowboys and Niners gashed them in consecutive weeks.
They only allowed 110 combined passing yards as well. Bend and don’t break was on point all day and if not for the Stafford pick-six, the Panthers only points would’ve come off the opening drive field goal.
There were still some things that need to improve. Taylor Rapp is struggling to tackle well after coming off an injury and McCaffrey had a 49-yard burst due to poor tackling by Ernest Jones and others. They also had several interception opportunities literally slip through Carolina’s fingers.
That said, this was a great day for the defense, holding the Panthers to 2-10 on third down. The team overall does need to be less sloppy and that includes McVay. They had seven penalties for 49 yards and three of which were delay of game penalties and they had to burn time-outs to prevent more. The clock management was sloppy as well and that’s not going to cut it in two weeks when the Niners come to town.
Pessimism was at an all-time high at halftime, and Ram’s Twitter seemed saltier than a pack of Limon 7. Sean McVay’s face reflected how angry and frustrated the fans were and the idea that the Super Bowl was not worth it bubbled to the surface.
No, the Rams aren’t devolving into the Jeff Fisher-era Rams, Les Snead didn’t screw the franchise, nor did he burn the Odell Beckham bridge, and no Bryce Perkins doesn’t need to take over because Stafford is washed.
The offensive line is in tatters and is in worse shape with Noteboom out for a yet-to-be-determined amount of time.
Rams Looking Forward To The Bye Week
That said, after the bye, the Rams will get healthier. Now that they’ve implemented the jet sweeps again and Allen Robinson is starting to gel a little bit things get a lot more interesting in the passing game with Van Jefferson coming back. Kyren Williams and Darrell Henderson seem to be the answer going forward unless the Rams make some move to get another back.
Snead will make some sort of move most likely for an offensive line piece or pass rusher so there’s more to look forward to. Defensively, Troy Hill and Jordan Fuller should give the secondary a boost, also Brian Allen and Coleman Shelton should be back within the next few weeks so the line should get healthier.
Furthermore, the Niners and Bucs are 3-3. The Niners play the Chiefs next week so there’s a chance they come into LA 3-4 and if the Rams win that game they’ll have first place in the West again with winnable games against Tampa, Arizona, and New Orleans before taking on the Chiefs. The Packers are also 3-3 and the rest of the conference (minus Philly) has its flaws.
The Rams have looked battered, bruised, ugly, frustrating, and not a team befitting of a title defense.
That said, they’ve shown enough flashes to prevent everyone from burying them just yet. It’s tempting to claim that the chickens have come home to roost and SOSAR is back but if this team can get healthier and they build off the good things they did today, then there’s no reason why they can’t make a real run these next eleven games. Everyone can rest easy that despite all the awfulness the Rams are entering the bye week on a high note and everyone can relax for a week.