Rams Hit Another New Low in Loss to Zona; 17-27

The Rams lost to a very beatable Cardinals team. The time for platitudes has passed, as have the Rams playoff chances. It's officially time to look to 2023

Chauncey Telese
Los Angeles Rams Quarterback John Wolford Photo Credit: Caitlyn Epes | Arizona Cardinals
Los Angeles Rams Quarterback John Wolford Photo Credit: Caitlyn Epes | Arizona Cardinals

Wow…, the Los Angeles Rams have sunk to a new low even for them. This was supposed to be as winnable a game as they’ve had all year and YET they blew it in tremendous fashion. Yes, Matthew Stafford was out with a concussion but Kyler Murray was also out. John Wolford should’ve been able to make something happen and Sean McVay should’ve been able to be creative enough to win a game against a hapless Cards team. They couldn’t.

The defense couldn’t force any turnovers and “bend don’t break” broke down too often.

This was the most pathetic loss in a string of pathetic losses. The season is over and all that’s left is to hope no one else gets seriously hurt because, on top of this absolutely uninspiring performance, Cooper Kupp is probably out for A WHILE. This week hurt. Not just because it was the final nail in the coffin of “RUN IT BACK” but because it revealed that aside from injuries there are some deeply fundamental problems with this team.

The offense is an utter disaster. Not just because the line started its 9th combo this season due to poor health, but the play-calling can’t get anything out of this unit. If this sound familiar it’s because some variation of this sentence has been written every week since the bye. The Wolf of Ball Street played like he took too many Quaaludes. John Wolford (24/36, 212 yards, one TD, one pick, and one lost fumble) is not the answer. Bryce Perkins wasn’t given much a chance to show he was one either.

The running game was once again abysmal with Cam Akers leading the pack with 22 yards. Yes, Darrell Henderson got a rushing TD but despite the improved push by the o-line, there wasn’t much to write home about.

The buck stops with McVay but it’s time to talk about the fact that years of other teams poaching coaches have caught up with them. Liam Coen might not be the author of this poor offense but it’s clear he’s not offering McVay the same thing that Kevin O’Connell did. The leading receiver today was Tyler Higbee (back from the dead) and Kyren Williams had 30 yards receiving in his debut season, but what’s alarming is the -3 yards from Cooper Kupp.

The Cardinals defense isn’t exactly a top-flight unit and they shut down Kupp better than the good teams do. In fact, there seemed to be a fundamental disconnect between Wolford and Kupp. As mentioned, Kupp also hurt his ankle and now the offense is in even more trouble. FUN!

Defensively, today was a great day for the “FIRE RAHEEM” faction. They gave up 27 points to Colt McCoy of all people. A lot of the defenses’ problems stemmed from the offense having a plethora of 3 and outs (they exceeded their number for the entire 2021 season). That said, it’s baffling that this defense couldn’t have forced any turnovers or gotten more than two sacks. The Cards’ offense was just as limited if not more than LA’s and YET they still allowed them to convert five third downs and three fourth downs. That’s appalling.

Now, this is not to suggest the answer is to actually fire Raheem Morris. If he’s good enough for Jalen Ramsey he’s good enough for everyone else. It suggests that the Rams have zero pass rush beyond Aaron Donald, and the young secondary is why they play so far off the ball. The defensive backs can’t seem to hold on to any picks and they can’t lock down the middle of the field. There were some bright spots, for instance, Russ Yeast played well when future comp pick Taylor Rapp was out of the game. Also, Matt Gay was perfect with one field goal.

The 2023 Rams

The point is, this game demonstrated that the Rams need to overhaul both sides of the ball next year. Not in the sense that they trade Ramsey or Kupp for picks but a lot of the role players and draft picks they have need to be reevaluated. Les Snead has had rough drafts in the past two years and it’s caught up with them. Their 2023 first-round pick is going to Detroit, but they’ll have a second-round pick in the top 40. That pick is crucial to the team. It needs to be the right position and the player must hit. There is no wiggle room this time.

They don’t need to tear it all down to the joists but they do need to do what Seattle did and nail one draft class and find a way to free up cap space. This team isn’t headed back to the St. Louis doldrums but they need to make some tweaks. From a coaching standpoint, they need to change some fundamental parts of who they are.

They should take the rest of the season to evaluate what they’ve got beyond the stars and start planning for 2023. The run isn’t over and they shouldn’t fire McVay or Snead BUT this season was the hangover after a Krusty the Clown level bender and now we’re being poked by Rod and Todd Flanders.

This sucks but now they know exactly how far away they are from contending. Now comes the soul searching. The best thing about rock bottom is there’s only one way to go. In the meantime, enjoy another seven weeks of axe-grinding, armchair GMs/coaches, and fans being happier being right than the team winning. Sigh…onto 2023.

Los Angeles Rams Quarterback John Wolford Photo Credit: Caitlyn Epes | Arizona Cardinals
Los Angeles Rams Quarterback John Wolford Photo Credit: Caitlyn Epes | Arizona Cardinals