The Los Angeles Rams dropped what would have been a great victory against the division-rival Seattle Seahawks. A win at home would have furthered their lead in the division and placed them 4-1 for the first time in God knows how long.
But the Seahawks defense came to play on Sunday. Despite not being able to score against the San Fransisco 49ers, the Seahawks scored just enough to give them a much-needed road win.
The game exposed the Rams offense when the pressure was applied and the quarterback was flustered. But the reveal wasn’t all bad. There were quite a few expositions that turned out to be positives for the future.
Make no mistake, there were plenty of negatives.
When push came to shove, the offense blinked
The Rams have been the No. 1 offense for the last few weeks. But you would not have guessed that if you only saw the second half.
A slow start in the first half, the offense got the ball rolling with solid gains from RB Todd Gurley and QB Jared Goff spreading the ball around. Even WR Tavon Austin got in on the action with some impressive runs and a touchdown.
But after that? Deafening silence.
The offense was playing catch-up the entire second-half and looked a bit off, starting with Goff. He looked uncomfortable even inside the pocket and made several throws to well-covered receivers. His throws were off-target or under-thrown and completed less than 47 percent of his passes. He still made some good plays, kept drives alive with his feet, but ultimately, he was beat.
Even the play-calling was questionable in some moments of the game. Head coach Sean McVay kept going with play-action passes despite Gurley not getting anymore touches, which makes the whole “we’re going to run the ball, psych” aspect null-and-void.
Goff threw the ball 47 times and Gurley ran the ball 14 times. That’s not good. WR Sammy Watkins targeted sparingly? That’s not good. But then again, neither is sub-tweeting about it.
The defense can play a balanced game
One of the stories we’ve been following all season is the defense’s disappointing performances. While they aren’t the worst unit in the league, they’ve still struggled against the run and have given up 32 points-a-game the last three weeks.
However, against the Seahawks, the Rams defense was lights out.
First and foremost, they only surrendered 16 points. The lone touchdown was given up by S John Johnson, who had a great game otherwise and was matched up against a veteran TE in Jimmy Graham.
Three sacks, a quarterback under 200 yards and a running game under 70 yards: that’s a great stat-line for the defense.
Tavon Austin can’t return punts
He’s muffed a punt in nearly every game this season and 15 in the last five years. I don’t understand how the Rams are more than a month into the season and we’re stilling talking about this.
Austin does great in the running game and as a wide receiver. But the special teams aspect of his game is clearly hurting more than helping. Put WR Cooper Kupp back there and be done with it.
The Rams are deep roster-wise
As I mentioned before, the Rams have a safety in John Johnson, who should be the starting safety in the future. He had a solid performance against the Dallas Cowboys and had his best game on Sunday.
Despite the touchdown allowance, Johnson was making great tackles, an interception, and a pair of pass-deflections. He looked really good and should a permanent fixture in the defensive back-field and replace S Maurice Alexander.
Another bright spot from the depth is DE Matt Longacre, who had a sack and hit QB Russell Wilson three times. He’s been quietly making a name for himself with heads-up plays here and there, but his presence was very noticeable on Sunday.
The feeling of assurance continues
I mentioned this following the loss to Washington; the Rams will be okay. The vibe I get from the team, specifically McVay, telegraphs that corrections will be made and the mistakes made will not continue to be a habit plaguing the team.
I also got that from the Rams’ last drive of the game. The offense marched down the field efficiently and nearly made the every play when it counted. The last play, like the Gurley non-fumble-but-was-called-a-fumble-anyway, was a bad bounce.
Kupp should have caught that. It wasn’t the best throw, but it was a throw that hit him right in the hands.
A lot will happen between now and next Sunday’s game against the Jacksonville Jaguars. The offense will adapt, Goff will correct his mistakes, and McVay will head to Jacksonville with a different team.