If last week sucked, this week was rock bottom. This loss stung. Not just because Kyle Shanahan beat Sean McVay for the 5th time in a row but how it happened. The Rams were flat-out embarrassed 31-10 in another primetime game where everything that could go wrong did. This loss was the Rams at their worst, the coaches, the players, and the fans (this fan included). Everything was toxic and awful and right now it doesn’t look like there’s anything positive to look at.
Unlike last week where the Rams defense held the Titans offense to under 200 yards, this week Shanahan ran all over the Rams defense like it was Hulkamania on 80s coke. Jalen Ramsey exploded on the sidelines following the Niners going up 21-7. He had every right to be piss mad because he was the only one to show up on every play tonight. There’s a lot of blame to be spread around so let’s dig in.
Matthew Stafford once again threw a bad pick early (he’d have one later) and once again the opposing team was up 14-0 before the Rams knew it. Sean McVay had a rock bottom night as a play-caller. Yes, the Rams were dealt a huge blow following Robert Woods torn ACL sustained on Thursday, but that doesn’t excuse how poorly McVay planned for Woods’ absence. He only called eight run plays, EIGHT!
Yes, Darrell Henderson had to be looked at for a concussion but he once again got impatient and tried to overcompensate for the team being down early. He also ran one too many tight end screens that didn’t work ESPECIALLY when Tyler Higbee isn’t catching balls.
Stafford could’ve easily had a dozen picks as his throwing was ERRATIC. The Higbee touchdown in the second quarter was the lone bright spot. Even Cooper Kupp had drops to go along with his 11 catches and 122 yards. The Rams were a PATHETIC 3/10 on third-down. McVay wanted to be aggressive but did so half-assed. His fourth down Hekker throw was idiotic as even if they had converted it, it was near the end of the half and the next play would’ve had to have been a touchdown. He was at his absolute nadir tonight.
Defensively, once again the knives were out for Raheem Morris, and while the defense has actually been solid since the debacle against the Cardinals, tonight was a travesty. Everyone and their mother knew Shanahan wanted to run the ball. And why shouldn’t he? Jimmy G is essentially NorCal Goff so the less the game is in his hands the better. The Rams gave up 156 yards on the ground, which doesn’t seem like much until you couple that with their 8/14 on third down, and once again the Rams defense couldn’t get big stops on third and longs. They tackled like they were covered in KY and of course had dumb penalties. Sebastian Joseph-Day’s absence was noticeable in this regard.
The bend but don’t break philosophy only works when said defense is disciplined and tonight the Rams were not. Yes, the Niners had nine penalties to the Rams five but those five penalties allowed Shanahan to cut them tiny cuts causing them to eventually gush blood like they were Scratchy.
Jalen Ramsey was also not asked to cover Deebo Samuel to the shock of everyone including Deebo Samuel. His second touchdown saw him bust out a chain and preen. And honestly, the Rams deserved it. Eli Mitchell apparently didn’t warrant Jalen Ramsey’s STAR power. It’s not his fault, but Raheem Morris’ for not planning for a Shanahan team that came into tonight 3-5 not having won a home game since before the pandemic.
Von Miller and Odell Beckham Jr. didn’t make the immediate impact ESPN told everyone they would. It’s not on them that this happened tonight. Miller is coming off an ankle injury and he actually made plays tonight. Beckham’s role hasn’t been defined yet because he basically just got off the plane. The take patrol will say that all that talent got them smoked but this isn’t on them. The bye week and beyond is where their impact will really be seen. So if anyone reading wants those two big moves dunked on, this isn’t the place for that.
Getting back to McVay, he found out quickly that rookie Ben Skowronek isn’t ready for primetime. He had several drops and only had eight yards receiving. He seemed to have no answers for the Niners’ defense. It’s his worst habit. He tells reporters and fans that he needs to be better and put his guys in better positions to succeed but he doesn’t seem to have the ability to plan for being down. His offense is great when the team is ahead but he hasn’t proven in a while that he can balance the offense and or come from behind. This isn’t to say he’s overrated or deserves to be replaced by Doug Peterson but he does need to have an actual look in the mirror and take stock of his mistakes.
Raheem Morris also needs the third-down defense to get better and the special teams need a complete overhaul. For some reason, the Rams have been bullied the last two weeks for reasons that remain a mystery. That’s also on coaching. They need to go back to basics in all three phases during the bye week, that’s for sure.
Okay, so rather than wallow completely in toxicity let’s look at the positives. Despite the last two embarrassing losses, the Rams are still 7-3. They are still a game back in the NFC West and they still have the talent to compete. They aren’t the Texans. The rest of the NFC, and frankly the league, are flawed and yesterday saw the Bucs, Cardinals, and Seahawks lose. The Cowboys also experienced a big loss a week ago so they aren’t a juggernaut either. The AFC has flaws as well.
The Rams have their own flaws to figure out but they are by no means alone. To that end, their flaws are fixable. The offensive line played better than it did last week. Yes, Brian Allen isn’t Creed Humphrey (we get it, stop beating the horse, its grandchildren are dead) but he hasn’t been a liability.
Stafford has been bad the last two weeks but he’s infinitely better than Goff. The narrative that Goff would give the team the same result is ludicrous. Stafford can get in rhythm with his non-Kupp receivers with a bye week. He’s too talented not to, but he does need to calm down.
Defensively, poor tackling can be fixed. Von Miller has an extra week to get healthy, and while it doesn’t show up in the box score, he still looks like Von Miller. Raheem Morris needs to be better and while most of Rams twitter has given up on that notion, it’s not impossible. He’s not Staley, but last week neither was Staley.
The point to this rambling is this. Shanahan brought the Rams to their lowest point since the Miami game a year ago. The good news is, the Rams rallied after that and beat the Bucs in Tampa on Monday night. They did so with Goff as their quarterback. There’s no reason to believe they can’t take two weeks to prepare for and beat the Packers.
To do that, and to not have a lapse against the Jags, and then beat the Cardinals on Monday night, they have to go back to basics. Figure out the run game, don’t ask Stafford to force throws to show off how good the offense can be, and have longer more balanced drives.
The defense needs to figure out how to get stops on third down, especially third and long. Shanahan showed that the best way to beat the Rams offense is to keep it off the field as long as possible. McVay also needs to go all-in on being aggressive. He can’t continue on this path and he knows it.
And once again, special teams needs to have an exorcism. They need a real returner, they need Hekker to get back to normal, and Matt Gay to keep being Matt Gay.
It’s dark right now, very dark. But despite all the negativity, memes, snark, etc, it’s not over. The Rams and their fans need the bye week. It’s been a long two weeks and all involved need to rest and gain some perspective. The Rams need to regain everyone’s trust but there’s plenty of evidence to suggest they can. In the meantime, just remember the main goal is to win a Super Bowl, everything else is just part of the journey.