Reviewing The X-Factors From The Rams Victory Over The Colts
Well, it wasn’t pretty. There was a lot to clean up after the game. However, in week two the Los Angeles Rams strapped up their boots, dug their heels in, and gritted their way to a win at Lucas Oil Stadium against the Indianapolis Colts. We are going to review the x-factors that were discussed pre-game and see which x-factor made the difference for the Rams in their 27-24 win.
Keeping Stafford Clean
The Rams came into Indianapolis after a top-five PFF performance grade against the Bears. The Colts have a tough front seven. It was never going to be easy. Indianapolis gave the Russell Wilson and the Seahawks fits to the tune of 16 pressures and four sacks. Protecting Matthew Stafford was paramount to keeping the offense afloat.
The Rams’ offensive line lived up to the challenge and continued to be even better against the Colts. The Rams only gave up four total pressures and outside of one bad sack where Andrew Whitworth whiffed on a block, they looked great. Stafford was able to maneuver comfortably in the pocket throughout most of the game and deliver passes in crucial moments. The offensive line was a huge x-factor in a gritty game.
Contain The Colts Running Backs
The Colts have a talented backfield on offense and they made up 59 percent of the team’s offensive yards in week one. Limiting the Colts’ running backs was a key x-factor to watch given how well they have been utilized. The Rams defense had given up some chunk runs against the Chicago Bears and that still held true at points against the Colts. However, it was clear the Rams defense had improved in that area during the game.
Ultimately, Jonathan Taylor, Marlon Mack, and Nyheim Hines only accounted for 91 yards on 23 touches. Hines had a 17-yard grab but outside of that, the Colts running backs made no other significant plays in the passing game. Kenny Young came up big until he was ejected for making contact with an official. However, Aaron Donald, Sebastian Joseph-Day, and Troy Reeder came up huge as well, combining for 10 stops. The Rams, for all the criticism they have received by fans, held the Colts’ running backs to just 3.4 yards per carry.
Establish The Run
Sean McVay was very unbalanced against the Bears and although some of that was due to the matchups available, he still needs to be more balanced overall. Especially in an ugly win, this was an integral x-factor. The Colts’ front seven is a tough test and the Rams answered the call.
Darrell Henderson was extremely efficient throughout the game until leaving with a rib injury. He totaled 13 carries for 53 yards and a touchdown as well as having three catches for 29 yards. Sony Michel might’ve been even more important. Michel came in after getting almost no snaps until Henderson’s injury and was efficient and helped the Rams to grind out some clock to give their defense a break. Michel had 10 carries for 46 yards.
The Rams averaged a very good 4.3 yards per carry but even better was how balanced the offense looked even when they suffered setbacks. McVay was able to keep the Colts front seven honest. The Rams ran the ball seven times in the first half but sprinkled it in effectively considering how the game flowed. The Rams became even more balanced in the second half with 16 carries. That balance kept The Colts off the field and gave the defense a rest after some long drives. Without that running efficiency, the game could have gotten out of hand potentially.