If the Los Angeles Rams vs Packers were any livelier, a funeral would’ve broken out. Although for fans, it might as well have been one. Matthew Stafford was a late-night scratch and Brett Rypien was somehow the most qualified QB available. He was awful, the play-calling was awful, and quite frankly damn near everything about this game was awful.
The Dallas game was the first time the rebuilding Rams were blown out and yet the offense in this game was exponentially worse. So much so that Samuel L “MOTHER*******” Jackson actually posed the question as to whether the Rams should fire Sean McVay. That is of course crazy and crazier still is the fact that there’s a contingent of fans that agree.
While legally the 3-6 Rams aren’t eliminated from playoff contention, the timeline where they rally after the bye and get the 7th seed is all but pruned. It just is.
This is good news for the YouTube GMs who get an early start on auditioning for a job they’ll NEVER GET. But seriously, there’s not much to glean from this game; good or bad because it was all just so ugly.
The Pride of Riverside Looks Like a Keeper
Before looking at all the things that went wrong today, let’s take a look at the one aspect of the game that didn’t completely disappoint. Lucas Havrisik was the lone Ram who actually scored points today making a second-quarter field goal of 50 yards. He would miss from 52 yards later but, hey, making one of those kicks in rainy weather is….something. And, for what it’s worth, those three points are about half of what the NFC West scored in total today so yay…
Okay, no more straws to grasp.
The Rams REALLY REALLY Blew It At Backup QB
As discussed last week one of the original sins of the off-season was punting on the backup QB position. Yes, they were ‘cap poor’ but it would’ve been nice if some of their limited funds were spent on Josh Dobbs or someone of that caliber.
Instead, they drafted a QB in the fourth-round who is not part of the team and signed a guy who looked like he was starting because it was his Make-A-Wish. Brett Rypien was ABYSMAL. He missed open throws, somehow only threw one interception, and aside from occasionally running for a first down he brought nothing to the table.
The Packers defense traded away their top corner and two more DBs are on the IR and yet the Rams offense couldn’t exploit that?! It’s puzzling that the Rams would play Russian Roulette with their back up QB situation given Stafford is on the wrong side of 30 and takes more punishment than prime Mick Foley.
Well, today that game ended the way it did for Christopher Walken in “The Deer Hunter” and the fans are DeNiro. Bravo Les Snead…BRAVO.
Byron Young and Kobie Turner Are Breaking Through
Okay, found some more straws. Despite not having Ernest Jones, the defense did what they could to keep the Rams in it. Byron Young not only led the entire defense in tackles with eight but he also had two sacks on the day, a career high. The second leader on the defense was fellow rookie Kobie Turner who had seven tackles and one sack. They’re still going to spend money on defense like their inheritance depends on it BUT having those two in the rotation will be huge going forward.
Now, the rest of the defense was perplexing because Jordan Love was AWFUL, and yet Rams still allowed the the Packers to convert 50% of their third downs and even when they had them at 3rd and 17 the Packers had no trouble getting those yards.
The secondary wasn’t great but kudos to Ahkello Witherspoon for having the awareness to pick up one of the most bizarre fumbles in recent memory. They pressured Love all day and Aaron Donald had a touchdown-saving sack.
But as a unit, they couldn’t take advantage of a Packers team that’s almost as incapable of scoring as the Rams are. In fact, the game would’ve been over sooner if the Packers’ hadn’t bailed the Rams defense out with penalties.
Special Teams Remains a Black Hole
The special teams coach for the Rams resembles the Defense Against the Dark Arts position at Hogwarts. It’s a revolving door and somehow gets worse every year. They nearly gave up a kick off touchdown to open the second half. DeMarcus Robinson was both a lousy returner and got a dumb penalty to put the already struggling offense in a worse spot, and Austin Trammel is still trying too hard to stand out. Rookie punter Ethan Evans got a lot of work today and was serviceable.
Sean McVay Needs an Intervention
Look, McVay is an outstanding coach and it would be absurd to fire him. HOWEVER, there is something fundamentally off about his play-calling the last two years.
On the opening drive, they had a 3rd and inches and instead of just barreling forward with either Darrell Henderson or Royce Freeman he got cute and did a sweep to Ben Skowronek that lost yards. As established, Rypien was living out the football version of Rock N Roll Fantasy Camp so he was limited but that doesn’t excuse the lack of creativity.
The offense just doesn’t seem prepared anymore and even when the Packers twice gifted them turnovers, they couldn’t even get it in field goal range. Anytime they had a little bit of mojo they’d get derailed by a dumb penalty or a play-call that makes zero sense.
The weather might have been bad but Tutu Atwell, Tyler Higbee, and Puka Nakua had the dropsies. Higbee’s hands went on IR a year ago and now it appears his vaunted blocking skills are in the attic along with his Halloween decorations.
Is the game different with Matthew Stafford? Probably, and it’s probably A LOT different if they also had Rob Havenstein, but this Packers team is not good. The offense shouldn’t have been shut out even with a mannequin at quarterback. The offense has been getting worse every week and keeps getting sloppier.
McVay still can’t get out of his own way and trust someone else to do the play-calling or at least do more to prepare every week. Or perhaps after they lost the Pittsburgh game he decided to engage in artfully tanking.
Final Thoughts on Rams vs Packers
This team has a lot of bright spots and while they were always going to be limited this season, they at least were able to hang with teams for three quarters before the talent deficit caught up with them. Now they’re back to the inert, incompetent, team they were last year.
This was the first time in the Sean McVay era that his team resembled the type of inept football the Rams trotted out in the Scott Linehan days. Kyle Boller might as well have been the quarterback today. They’re not going to the playoffs but maybe just maybe they can go back to being fun. Or perhaps they’re already on Air B&B looking for their next draft house.