Rams Prove They Can Win Ugly But For How Long?

Rams vs. 49ers
Los Angeles Rams QB Jared Goff. Photo Credit: The 621st Contingency Response Wing | Under Creative Commons License

The Rams-Giants game was supposed to be an opportunity for the Rams to show off their newly discovered offensive prowess and get back to work on defense against a rebuilding tomato can. Unfortunately, that’s not what happened. It was a closer game than anyone expected and if not for an awesome Darius Williams pick and Jared Goff effortlessly throwing a bomb to Cooper Kupp they lose.

Throughout the game, they looked flatter than Kyrie Irving‘s globe and couldn’t get a stop on third down if they installed a giant toll booth at the first down marker. On a positive note, the Rams proved that yet again they can win ugly if they wanted to but how long is winning ugly a sustainable model? They have the second-most challenging schedule for the rest of the season and counting on the team to wake up becomes a dangerous prospect.

In Week 1, it a major victory beating a Super Bowl frontrunner in the Dallas Cowboys. It was an ugly if not controversial win but now that the Cowboys are 1-3 (and that one win came via an epic error by Atlanta) that ugly win looks less impressive.

It saw the Rams prove they can keep a high flying offense at by (which the other teams haven’t) but offensively they should’ve scored more points against what is another putrid Mike Nolan defense. It could be argued that this was the best version of that defense because they were at their healthiest but that doesn’t hold when thinking about how easily the Rams moved the ball down the field yet didn’t come up with a lot of points.

Week 2 looked ugly before the Rams offense exploded against a tattered Eagles team, and the Week 3 loss to the Bills was a wackadoo game and if not for that first half was this team at its best in a lot of ways, against a bonafide playoff team.

That’s what makes Week 4 baffling. The Giants’ defense isn’t terrible and Blake Martinez in particular did a great job stuffing the run and getting in the way of the Rams receivers. What is alarming is how Daniel Jones was sacked five times and was pressured all throughout the game and yet the defense was continually picked apart on third down.

It’s true that the Rams linebacker rotation corps is and will always be public enemy number one. They’re always going to struggle against tight ends which is a scary thought considering George Kittle will be fully operational when the Rams arrive in Week 6.

Troy Hill had one of his bad games where the receivers roasted him like he was Jeff Ross and the only linebacker to make plays was once again Malcolm Floyd. Jalen Ramsey‘s big play against Golden Tate came late and felt like a defense that had enough of being on the field (yes, that hit was more loaded than most fans realized at the moment), and was the first moment that day where they understood that they absolutely needed a stop.

Before this sounds like another chicken little piece about how the Rams’ defense isn’t as good as once thought, there are some silver linings. Jordan Fuller is back at safety which means less of Taylor Rapp in pass coverage and fellow rookie Terrell Lewis is set to make his debut which could give them a shot in the arm at linebacker. A’Shawn Robinson will help the run defense when he’s eventually able to return to the team and makes the defensive line rotation that much better.

Offensively, Cam Akers is set to return as well and the running back rotation can have another gear. They get another tomato can in Washington which is now starting Kyle Allen at quarterback so that should allow the defensive line to feast again. Their defense is hobbled as well so to see the Rams prove they can take care of business against a lesser opponent would raise confidence levels ahead of their clash with the Niners.

What’s also important is for Sean McVay to be more daring as a play-caller. He seemed content to call screens in the red zone because if they failed they wouldn’t be catastrophic. It isn’t clear if he’s still tweaking and experimenting before the big games come or if he’s still not confident yet in what his offense can do.

It’s clear by the Eagles and Bills games that Goff can air it out so it’s odd that they almost refused to do that against the Giants. Brandon Staley also needs to iron out the issues in his schemes because for the second week in a row the defense looked confused in pass coverage. After a game where they won UGLY now is the time the Rams prove they can play like a contender from start to finish before they get to the toughest parts of their schedule. Many think they can be a championship team and now they need to play like it.

Rams Win Ugly: The Rams prove once again they can win an ugly game but with a tough schedule coming up how long can they keep doing it.

Los Angeles Rams QB Jared Goff. Photo Credit: The 621st Contingency Response Wing | Under Creative Commons License