The Rams sucked out loud on Thursday night time. Positive, you may hand wave away their 31-10 loss in opposition to the Payments by mentioning that Buffalo is a Tremendous Bowl favourite, the opener is likely one of the largest checks of the season for Los Angeles, and say that it’s nonetheless early — all of this stuff are true. What you may’t do although is faux that the Rams did something convincing that confirmed they’ll nonetheless hold with the NFL’s elite. This can be a group with deep systemic issues, and so they must be mounted, quick.
It’s not all offense’s fault, however actually that’s the place nearly all of issues have been for the Rams. It’s unimaginable that Los Angeles had eight months figuring out their offensive line was poor, and didn’t do sufficient about it. The lack of left deal with Andrew Whitworth to retirement was much more impactful than individuals believed, and when paired with rookie Logan Bruss, who tore his ACL in coaching camp, it created a large number. As a substitute of discovering solutions, Los Angeles turned up wanting utterly unprepared.
Matthew Stafford was below strain for a lot of the night time, and he was by no means capable of get settled within the pocket. Offensively the Rams tried to mitigate this by having him throw out of the gun, however the o-line wasn’t adequate to guard one-on-one. Nonetheless, that shouldn’t hand wave away simply how poor Stafford was. It’s too early to attract conclusions on Stafford primarily based on his reported elbow harm which has plagued him for a lot of the spring and summer time, however this wasn’t simply an arm downside on Thursday night time — the problems went far deeper.
The offensive line issues led to Stafford getting tunnel imaginative and prescient on account of the strain. Stafford functionally ignored everybody on offense apart from Cooper Kupp and Tyler Higbee, concentrating on the pair a complete of 26 occasions, 63 p.c of his passing makes an attempt. Kupp was producing, so we are able to justify that — however Higbee struggled to make an influence all night time, and didn’t warrant getting as many alternatives as Stafford tried to offer him. The tight finish completed the night time with 5 catches for 39 yards on a surprising 11 targets.
In the meantime the Rams’ 4 different receivers mixed for 10 targets. Stafford would possibly as nicely have forgotten Allen Robinson existed, as a result of he solely focused him twice within the recreation. For comparability, Josh Allen focused his favourite receiver, Stefon Diggs, 9 occasions — and unfold the ball to the remainder of his receivers a complete of 14 occasions. In brief: Allen unfold the ball round extra, focused his depth gamers extra typically, regardless of having 10 fewer passing makes an attempt than Stafford. That may be a balanced offense, and an absence of steadiness doomed the Rams.
That challenge of steadiness is paramount, and leads us into the opposite crucial challenge: Working again. Los Angeles determined to let their high working again from 2021, Sony Michel, stroll in free company to signal a paltry one 12 months, $2.1M cope with the Dolphins. A deal Los Angeles simply might have exceeded or at the very least matched, however as a substitute the group determined to depend on working again by committee — and the committee is trash. Darrell Henderson, promoted to the starter within the offseason, appears ill-equipped to hold the load as an every-down again, and the group is woefully missing a No. 2. This actually reared its head when the Rams have been compelled to vary their offensive focus and attempt to purchase Stafford time within the pocket through the use of play motion, however the issue was that Buffalo had no motive to consider they’d really run — so the faux didn’t idiot anybody.
Which means in the event you’re following alongside at residence, listed below are the important thing variations on offense between the 2021 Rams and the 2022 Rams:
- Their offensive line is way worse
- Their working backs are a lot worse
- The group spent a majority of their free company cash on a receiver (Allen Robinson) who Matthew Stafford refused to focus on
The main focus is on the offense proper now as a result of it’s harder to essentially consider how the protection was on Thursday night time. For essentially the most half it felt just like the Rams D was … high-quality. Nothing unimaginable, however removed from terrible both. The receiving duo of Stefon Diggs and Gabriel Davis goes to be tough for many groups within the league to cowl, not to mention on a brief discipline when your quarterback throws three interceptions.
There are some very actual considerations in regards to the breadth of the Rams’ go rush. Shedding Von Miller in free company is critical, as a result of because it stands the lions’ share of the strain has to come back from Aaron Donald alone, and the group is but to seek out one other dependable counterpoint to assault the pocket and take the strain off Donald to do all the things by himself.
I don’t blame Rams followers from eager to see a silver lining right here and attempt to discover causes this may all be circled, and clearly there’s time — however a few of these points are deep-seated systemic issues that may’t be corrected in brief order. Los Angeles doesn’t have to hit the panic button, however it does have to elevate the quilt and have their hand hovering over.
We anticipated to see a Rams group poised to run it again and contend for a Tremendous Bowl. After Thursday night time it doesn’t appear to be they’re even able to contend within the NFC West.