After three weeks of bleakness, the Los Angeles Rams finally gave fans something to feel positive about. Sure, the Jaguars were an abysmal team coming into this game so the Rams HAD to win this but they took care of business and the game was over early in the third. The Rams still have things to work on especially with Arizona coming up next week, but first it’s time to celebrate the positive since it’s been a Dewey Cox level dark period.
The biggest victory on offense was the fact that they committed ZERO turnovers, that’s right they didn’t turn the ball over once. Matthew Stafford (295 yards, 3 TDs) looked like his old self. It wasn’t always pretty (more on that later), but the Rams offense found its groove. The catalyst for that was Sony Michel (as everyone predicted) who rushed for 121 yards and a touchdown. Sony gave the Rams’ offense the balance it so desperately needed and that enabled Sean McVay to actually utilize play-action and even 12 personnel packages. It’s amazing what happens when the Rams are able to actually run the ball consistently. Darrell Henderson was active today but received no carries but that’s okay because Sony was more than able to play the part of bell cow today.
Cooper Kupp was once again an absolute monster with eight catches for 124 yards and a touchdown. Kupp was clutch on several key third downs and put on an absolute clinic. Van Jefferson had an incredible toe-tapping touchdown as well, and Odell Beckham had a touchdown late in the game. While he didn’t have any catches, Brycen Hopkins even made an appearance after being in witness protection for the last year. The offense was fun again and despite injuries along the line, the offense was able to build an identity.
Defensively, the Rams actually created a turnover. Aaron Donald nailed James Robinson and Jalen Ramsey scooped up the fumble. Ramsey was incredible against his former team highlighted by a 4th and 1 pass break up. Ernest Jones led the way with nine tackles and more than earned a permanent spot in the rotation, and once Justin Hollins can come back, the Rams will actually have a stable Linebacker rotation.
Donald was an absolute monster today but the real story was Greg Gaines who continued to show he’s a reliable run stopper and someone that can get to the quarterback. The big story for the defense was that Raheem Morris’s held the Jags to under 200 yards and only allowed one touchdown. Yes, it’s the Jags but still, after weeks of defensive issues, it was nice to see the unit function the way it’s supposed to.
Okay, so while the Rams did a ton right they still have some issues to work out. The game got a little scary in the second quarter as the offense got a little stuck. Brian Allen had to exit the game with an injury and Coleman Shelton struggled a bit in the beginning. Guard David Edwards also sustained an injury and Stafford took a huge shot that knocked the wind out of him. The line was very up and down, which isn’t the end of the world against the Jags, next week is an entirely different story. Stafford is still having trouble finding Beckham consistently and he continued his bad habit of overthrowing guys early in the game. Ben Skowronek still needs to find his rhythm with Stafford and the receivers can’t keep dropping the ball. They were also dreadful on third-down finishing 5-12.
The penalties (7-47) are still too high and the defense while much more dynamic, were also still allowing long third downs to be converted. Darious Williams had some rough plays and Von Miller wasn’t as involved as he should be at this point in the season for reasons unknown.
The biggest issue has been just how godawful the special teams unit remains (outside of Matt Gay of course). They’re the Paolo Gucci of the Rams. They not only weren’t able to establish a return game but they also were being charitable in giving the Jags great field position.
Next Monday is the biggest game of the season and while Sean McVay showed his willingness to stick with the run, utilize play-action, and mix up the packages, the Jags also didn’t give them a reason not to. The Cardinals are streets ahead of the Jags and McVay needs to prove his newfound flexibility won’t disappear at the slightest hint of adversity.
Sony Michel did a great job establishing the run and if he can do this again next week the Rams can actually have a cohesive offense. That said, he did fumble last time they played the Cards so he needs to prove he can be consistent. If Henderson is healthy the two should be utilized more as a tandem.
Stafford can’t keep being the type of player that breaks late. His overthrows remain a problem and he needs to keep working with Beckham and get him more involved. Cooper Kupp can’t bail the offense out every week and it’s still clear they are working out their post-Bobby Trees existence.
Defensively, the pass-rush has to continue to show up, they can’t commit dumb penalties, and they absolutely have to get off the field on third-downs.
The Rams took care of business and while it’s nice they can take out the Switchyard Sullivans of the world they need to prove they can go more than one round with the Drederick Tatums.