The Los Angeles Rams offense is fundamentally broken, there’s no other way to put it. The line is in tatters and Matthew Stafford is getting his a** kicked on every play. They can’t run and Cooper Kupp is the only consistent target on offense.
Today’s loss was emblematic of everything wrong with the Rams and unfortunately, there isn’t a whole lot that can change that until after the bye week. What’s even more frustrating is that like on Monday the Rams were very much in the game in the fourth quarter but poor execution and a backfield that’s easier to get into than Arizona State took all the gifts Dallas gave them and squandered it.
The play-calling hasn’t properly adjusted to the offense’s limitations and that’s exacerbating everything else. Sean McVay and Liam Coen need to figure something out because at this point it seems as though the red zone has filed a restraining order against them. They haven’t scored a second-half touchdown for the third time this season. While everyone wants McVay to run the ball more and to get Allen Robinson involved it’s not that simple. If it was they’d do it already. The Rams offensive struggles are like an onion it stinks, makes you cry, and there are a lot of layers to it.
Rams Offensive Woes Continue Against Dallas
Everything starts up front where the Rams were already up against it coming into the season. With each game, they lose another offensive lineman. David Edwards went out with another concussion in the fourth quarter after missing last Monday’s game with a concussion. They will have to start their sixth offensive line combination in as many weeks.
Today was the Rams third game against a dominating pass rush and lordy how they struggled. Stafford got sacked on a 3rd and 1 and fumbled for a Dallas touchdown on the opening drive. Stafford would be sacked four more times and fumbled again in the fourth quarter. He also had one of his trademark picks in the fourth which all but sealed the game. He still showed he could use his feet to get first downs and save drives but it’s also clear that five games in the sacks are taking their toll.
He’s not getting any time to throw the ball. Micah Parsons and company seemed to be in the backfield right after each snap. While McVay can’t do much to overcome the Rams injuries, the play-calling does need to adjust.
They’ve found ways to get the ball to Kupp and Tyler Higbee, and even got Tutu Atwell (AKA not Creed Humphrey) his first career catch but beyond that, no one else has been able to step up. Jacob Harris was elevated to the starting roster today but they didn’t even try to utilize him. Nor did they try to work in Kendall Blanton. Even as a blocker. It’s never good when Atwell is number two in receiving yards (one catch 54 yards). Kupp had a 75-yard TD and had 127 yards overall but it’s not enough.
McVay and Coen have to try to find Stafford more help and while Van Jefferson is coming back after the bye, they still need other weapons to come in. Darrell Henderson was utilized as a receiver (four catches 30 yards) but that’s not something they can lean on. Defenses have DARED the Rams to go away from Kupp or Higbee and the Rams don’t seem to want to. Ben Skowronek is doing his best to block and move the chains when he can but he’s still not a reliable pass-catcher.
Also, once again Allen Robinson hasn’t found a way to get separation to the point where it’s becoming clearer that he’s in the Russell Wilson on the Broncos stage of his career. Robinson once again barely got above ten yards receiving and while there is a play-calling issue to quibble with, Robinson also bears some responsibility.
The running game is bafflingly bad. The Cowboys had the 30th-ranked run defense coming into today. They are particularly bad against runs to the outside and yet McVay couldn’t take advantage. Cam Akers simply doesn’t have it and they need to try using Henderson more. It’s understandable that McVay wants Akers to be more involved but he can’t create plays once he gets behind his blockers and his field vision has somehow regressed. Henderson wasn’t used at all as a rusher at all today because nothing makes sense anymore.
Rams Defense Leads The Way
There were bright spots. For one thing, the pass rush actually showed up today. Aaron Donald had two sacks and Jalen Ramsey recorded his first career regular-season sack. Grant Haley showed a lot of potential and Terrell Burgess led the team in tackles today which showed he’s working his way back into the starting rotation. Perhaps he can finally replace Taylor Rapp full-time.
That said, the defense came in as the third-ranked rushing defense, and yet they allowed 136 yards and one touchdown on the ground. Cooper Rush only had 76 yards passing and yet the Rams still allowed them to score 22 points. Yes, one touchdown was on that Stafford fumble but once again they’re giving up explosive plays which is something that the defense is built NOT to do.
While the pass rush did get better today they are still not getting much out of their non-Donald defensive linemen and Leonard Floyd is clearly banged up because he’s been a ghost out there. They once again struggled to finish tackles and while 5-15 isn’t a bad third-down rating, they are still allowing the offenses to stay on the field way too long.
Special teams were a mixed bag. Matt Gay missing the 51-yard field goal still stings but the punting and return units didn’t fall apart. So there’s that.
Next week presents a beatable Panthers team. If the Rams can get to the bye at 3-3 that’s a victory at this point. The defense will definitely be a lot healthier in three weeks but the offense is still going to need a jolt. Van Jefferson should open things up considerably but they also need to figure out what to do about their line. Coleman Shelton will be back eventually but they can’t have Bobby Evans in the rotation anymore. If they can find a way to solve their offensive line rotation after the bye then they can generate offense again.
They also need to figure out what to do about their running back room. At this point, Henderson should be the go-to guy and if Kyren Williams can come back they should work him in as soon as possible. Cam Akers is still not where he was in his rookie season and he’s becoming a liability.
Look, things are rough right now, there’s no sugarcoating it. But this isn’t the time to want a regime change or to wave the white flag. The non-Eagles in the NFC are all super flawed so the Rams aren’t dead yet. The division is also very weak so they’re not out of it there either. Yes, the offense is listless right now but they should be much better after the bye week just by virtue of being healthier. All is not lost.
Sure, a lot of talking heads are saying “I told you so” in terms of the Rams “F—- dem picks” philosophy because it seems as if they have no depth but that’s not really the problem. They do but the injuries have ravished their reserves. Coming into the year they were already down Logan Bruss and it’s compounded from there. If the team is still this flawed and uninspiring in December, then there needs to be some tough conversations but for now, it’s all about getting healthy and finding blocking.