The Rams are now in the lighter part of their schedule after a wild and crazy start over the first five weeks. Coming off of their bye, the Rams managed to come out victorious vs the Browns, winning 24-6.
In this game, there were some legit missed opportunities, and the Rams could have easily won this game 38-3. Overall, the Rams managed to do the exact opposite of what has plagued them in the past, and won the game their expected to win, and did so convincingly.
- To some this may sound crazy, but to others it will be pretty accurate. Todd Gurley is not only playing his way towards the OROY (offensive rookie of the year) award, but also the OPOY (offensive player of the year award) award. MVP will legitimately take a 2000 yard season, if he continues his current pace that's possible, but far less probable. Gurley's adjustment to the pro game is something I haven't seen since dare I say Adrian Peterson, although I believe he is further along mentally not physically than AD was. No, he is not the first rookie back since AD to burst onto the scene, but what sets him apart is the lack of scheme impact and production around him. He's not playing behind a stud offensive line, or with a great or even consistently good quarterback. He doesn't have a strong passing game to take pressure off himself and defenders out the box. And he is not playing in a scheme designed to help any running back succeed (i.e. Alfred Morrison first two seasons). No he is just simply out shining defenses. He is hitting creases and setting up blocks that are not even a reality until he makes them one. It's truly like watching a six or seven year veteran back run the ball. On his 16 hard touchdown run, Gurley did a good job stretching the defense to it's limits. Even then, there was literally nowhere to go. Gurley stretched it a little harder to create a lane. He hit the lane before it fully developed which showed vision, patience, and a high football IQ. Once he hit the hole, the angle he took allowed him to set up the absolute slobber knocker block Austin laid on Donte Whitner. From there he broke the necessary tackles to get into the end zone. On his 48 yard run, Gurley showed everything that made him the number one player overall on so many teams big boards. He showed power, vision, balance, burst, speed, and agility. It was beautiful. To have the presence of mind to make that cutback when he did proves he is on another level mentally, which is the real key to success in this league. Had he been a step slower in this cutback (which took place 10 yards down field) he likely would have been tackled from behind by the pursuit. He was so decisive and quick footed he blew right past them as he reversed field, got an edge, and got north and south. I get that most people are enjoying watching him run, but everyone really needs to try and understand just how special the things he's doing really are. It could be a long time before we see something like this again.
- The offensive line was much better than the last time we saw them on the field. There were legitimate improvements made. Jamon Brown however had his worst day as a pro. He was beaten repeatedly and showed a flaw that is sure to be caught on film by other teams. He struggled mightily when the defender had third and fourth counter moves. It appeared to be too much for him to react to. Rob Havenstein on the other hand had his best game to date, and the same can be said for Tim Barnes. Both players have kind of quietly improved each game, especially Havenstein. Greg Robinson had one of the more head scratching penalties as he jumped offsides and ran out to the flat. It was confusing because he flinched and then ran out almost as if he was just trying to play it off. Outside of his bad penalty he had a solid game for the most part.
- Jared Cook is the most inefficient player on the Rams team and has had more negative impacts than postive. He single handedly held Gurley back from having an extra 40-60 yards on the day. His worst block of the day was on a half ass, pity pat, love tap, chest bump, during a "kickout", although he flat out ran into the back of Jamon Brown and missed his assignment on another play. At this point you have to blame coaching. There's no way you can watch the film on this nonsense and justify putting him in there. And his I don't care what you think demeanor and barely trying effort, says that he's confident he can get away with it. There's a definite problem starting at the top. Until you fix that this will never change. Cook will single handedly kill this offense in a game that matters more than others and cause a loss. It's becoming his nature.
- Nick Foles was not that great. He was holding the ball again for far too long. He routinely locked onto receivers and didn't get through his reads. He made some great hot route presnap checks, but he missed on six of eight of them. His wildly inconsistent accuracy is bound to lose this team at least two more games this season.
- Tavon Austin has to get the ball more. I can't stress this enough. He has to touch the ball at least 10 times a game. He was targeted 7 times which led the Rams but Foles' accuracy was so shoddy for most of the game that it didn't matter. Austin needs at least 6 possessions a game by way of running or a screen. He should be sent down field on double move, comeback, or go routes the rest of the time.
- Stedman Bailey should see no less than 12 targets a game. It would make a huge difference in the consistency of the passing game.
- The defensive line was stellar as usual in this game. However, i could not wrap my head around how they continuously lined up in the neutral zone. Forget jumping offsides, they lined up off from the beginning on multiple occasions and continuously kept the drive alive. Otherwise the pass rush was pretty impactful all game with four sacks and a slew of pressures on Josh McCown. But the way they played the run was highly impresisve. Aaron Donald may very well end the season as the defensive player of the year. Michael Brockers is having a legitimate pro bowl caliber year. Running up the middle has been nonexistent thanks to these two guys. Ethan Westbrooks had his best game as a pro, while William Hayes continues to be arguably the best rotational defensive lineman in the NFL. This unit played exceptionally well in the trenches and really controlled the game.
- A huge help to the line was, and has been, the secondary. This unit is playing lights out football. Statistically they're arguably the best in the NFL, though I won't go that far just yet. However i will say it is undeniable that they are a top three unit hands down. Janoris Jenkins is likely headed to his first pro bowl if he can maintain his level of play over the next 10 weeks. And Trumaine Johnson looks like a legit alternate. Rodney McLeod or the "angel" as Gregg Williams likes to say has been one of the best coverage safeties in the NFL this season, and his presnap reads have been sharp all year resulting in him constantly being around the ball even when he lines up 25 yards deep. In fact, Jenkins confirmed the fumble he forced was a result of the alert screen McLeod communicated to him presnap. This entire unit has to be kept in tact this offseason, I don't care if they have E.J. Gaines waiting in the wings. All of the players are between the ages of 25 and 26 and are just entering their primes as their play has shown. I'll have more on this subject later this week...
- At linebacker the entire Rams nation wondered how this unit would fair without Alec Ogletree. Personally I believe Mark Barron has played well enough that it wouldn't surprise me if a team asked him to gain 15 lbs and play LB full time this offseason during free agency. Against the Browns he reaffirmed that belief of mine. This was the best game I have seen from a second level player on this defense not named Alec Ogletree over the last two seasons. Barron was everywhere making tackles and finished the game with 16. He was in the backfield and in coverage. He looked like a true natural at the OLB position. The Rams didn't miss a beat this weak.