On one hand, the Rams are much improved from where they were last year. The offensive line is more consistent and healthier, the running game is cooking, and they can move the ball down the field when they want to. On the other, the Rams sit at 4-2 and have a rough road ahead of them starting with Chicago on Monday Night. They easily could be 6-0 but a few of their biggest issues bit them against the Bills and Niners respectively.
There are three things the Rams absolutely need to get a handle on if they are to prove they are among the best in the NFC. It’d be four but they actually went out and signed former UCLA Bruin and Golden Knight of Sherman Oaks, Kai Forbath to challenge and eventually take over for the STRUGGLING Samuel Sloman.
Three Things Sean McVay Needs To Fix
Brandon Staley Needs To Clean Up The Mistakes
Sean McVay hiring Brandon Staley was obviously a good idea as the scheme has been overall better than it was last year. The problem is that due in part to him being a first-time coordinator and the lack of practice time due to COVID-19, there have been a lot of miscues.
Of the three things, this is the most important because the Rams give up too many first downs due to abominable tackling, coverage miscues, and the linebackers simply not developing. The fact that the defense is missing a 6th round rookie in Jordan Fuller this much is not a great sign.
Yes, they get A’Shawn Robinson back which should help the run defense but if they can’t find another adult at inside linebacker they’re in DEEP TROUBLE. Jalen Ramsey might be the best lockdown corner in the league, but Troy Hill and Darius Williams are constantly getting burned, especially on third down. Taylor Rapp has regressed, and upfront, Leonard Floyd is the only one able to consistently make plays.
Find A Running Back Rotation And Stick With It
Cam Akers, Darrell Henderson, and Malcolm Brown are a solid three-headed monster at running back. The problem is McVay doesn’t seem to have a handle on who to start. Henderson is the best in the group but because he’s not the pass blocker that Brown is they don’t have him in often on pass plays. Same with Akers and that means the offense gets too predictable.
McVay has also been inconsistent with how he splits the carries between Akers and Henderson. He intimated that Akers would receive a lot more carries after his solid return against Washington. That didn’t happen and instead, it was Henderson that got the bulk of the carries and he never had a good reason why. The offense can be in rhythm during the weeks he actually has a handle on the rotation but it feels as though he keeps trying to tinker with it to the detriment of the team. This also ties into the other major problem with the offense.
Open Up The Playbook And Let Goff Air It Out
This is the scariest of the three things as Jared Goff has had a lot of stupid mistakes and turnovers. HOWEVER, good things have also happened when they air it out more. Yes, it’s nice that McVay has balanced the offense but often it feels like they’re holding back in the passing game. Whether that’s a product of the team integrating bits and pieces of Kevin O’Connell‘s contributions to the offense or not trusting Goff, eventually it’s going to haunt them, and to a degree, it already has.
Against the Niners, Goff had a confounding pick BUT he also had that bomb to Josh Reynolds that got them within one score. They also don’t distribute the ball properly. Tyler Higbee was a five-card STUD in week two but has all been abandoned except as a blocker. He doesn’t integrate rookie Van Jefferson enough and relies too much on Cooper Kupp which bit them when he apparently didn’t make the trip to Santa Clara.
McVay sometimes makes the offense too vanilla at the beginning of the game and that causes them to let lesser opponents hang around too long. The Rams don’t need to all of a sudden become the Chiefs but they at least need to embrace their more explosive plays because when they want to, they can really cook.
Aside from the three things listed above, they need to clean up little stuff like week to week offensive execution and overall energy. They’ve come out flat against the Giants and the Niners and there isn’t any clear reason as to why. Also, if the Rams are to contend, the biggest addition by subtraction move they can make is to STOP LETTING COOPER KUPP RETURN PUNTS. This has screwed them over from a field position standpoint and Nsimba Webster is much better at it anyway.
The Rams are streets ahead of where they were a year ago and luckily for them, the NFC as a whole (not the West) is weaker than expected. Unfortunately, they’ve exhausted the NFC East portion of the schedule and the only tomato can left is the Jets.
They need to stop being sloppy on defense, better allocate their carries, and stop being afraid of the deep ball and they can win the NFC West if not the entire conference. If they’re going to do that it has to start Monday against the Bears.
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