Reviewing The X-Factors In The Rams Loss To The Cardinals
The Los Angeles Rams suffered a big loss on Sunday to the Arizona Cardinals. The offense couldn’t get into a rhythm, the coaching was questionable, and the defense got embarrassed. The Rams are no longer undefeated and are now sitting in second place in the NFC West. The Rams now sit at 3-1 but have some serious questions after what was essentially a blowout, losing 37-20. Let’s review each of the x-factors discussed earlier in the week.
Contain Kyler Murray
After Sunday, Kyler Murray may well be the favorite to win the MVP after having his way with the Rams. His stat line may not look impressive but he was unstoppable and efficient. The Rams defense missed sack opportunities and allowed him to extend plays as well as gave up long gains on critical third downs. Murray was 2/3 on passes of 20+ yards and one of those was a touchdown against Taylor Rapp. The duo of Rapp and Jordan Fuller gave up 6/7 targets for 74 yards. Meanwhile David Long had the worst game of his career allowing 5/5 targets for 89 yards and a 41-yard touchdown to A.J. Green.
Murray wasn’t allowed to use designed runs to score but he was allowed to extend plays and the Rams didn’t do nearly enough to stop him. The defense totaled 16 pressures and 3 sacks but Aaron Donald was largely kept in check and the Rams missed some opportunities due to abandoning their rush lanes. It didn’t help that six players missed over 10% of their tackle attempts either. Unfortunately, the defense didn’t seem prepared for how tough the Cardinals would be. Murray showing up the Rams defense was one of the most critical x-factors in this game.
Air It Out
Despite Matthew Stafford looking like an MVP candidate the first three weeks of the season, he looked anything but that against the Cardinals. He continually locked onto a well-covered Cooper Kupp and ignored other opportunities. Stafford threw an interception on a badly underthrown pass to DeSean Jackson and had another one negated by a questionable penalty against the Cardinals. Three drops by Rams receivers didn’t help anything either. The Rams did a good job of attacking Marco Wilson but the Rams appeared to never be on the same page all at once. Robert Woods continued to be all but forgotten again as well, and the frustration for Woods clearly showed. The offense’s struggles were some of the most disappointing x-factors in this loss.
Win The Turnover Battle
In recent years, Murray had been a turnover machine against the Rams. That wasn’t the case on Sunday. Instead, it was the Rams who kept coughing the ball up on a forgettable day. The Cardinals offense protected the football while Stafford threw 2 interceptions (one was negated by penalty), and Sony Michel fumbled in Rams territory. Both Stafford’s interception and Michel’s fumble led to touchdowns. Potentially a 28-point swing in the Cardinals’ favor.
Those types of critical errors are what lead to losing big games and unfortunately, this Cardinals team isn’t the same team from previous years. The Cardinals limited mistakes while capitalizing on the Rams’ errors. The Rams shooting themselves in the foot was one of the ugliest x-factors for a team that never looked pretty.
On to Seattle.