To the seasoned Los Angeles Rams fan, everything went as expected on Saturday night against the Los Angeles Chargers. Last week’s showing against the Oakland Raiders was almost too strong — something was up. This can’t be the Rams that we know and love. Did Head Coach Sean McVay REALLY change everything in a matter of months? Well, that depends.
Let’s take a look at the expected and unexpected aspects of Saturday night’s game:
Expected: Goff Takes a Step Back
If QB Jared Goff went off and systematically destroyed the Chargers secondary, yes that would have been unexpected. But instead, the 22 year-old quarterback showed once again that he’s a work in progress. It was a small sample size, but he never recovered from the strip sack that led to a touchdown.
Unexpected: The Depth of the Defense Looked Rough
With only two starters playing for the Rams defense, we got a good look at how deep the roster is going to look and for the first time all preseaon, it was not encouraging. Even CB Lamarcus Joyner looked out of place on the field when Chargers WR Travis Benjamin made him look silly on the opening touchdown drive.
Expected: Rob Havenstein Struggled at Right Tackle
In what was the worst play of the game for the Rams and probably caused a lion’s share of the share of the fans to turn off the TV in disgust, RT Rob Havenstein got owned by DE Joey Bosa, leading to a strip sack and eventual touchdown. The entire play was a train wreck and all of the blame can’t be fairly place on Havenstein’s shoulders, but it’s another example that the right side of the offensive line will the be the clear weak spot for the Rams in the upcoming season.
Ce duo des Chargers !! Bosa avec le sack et fumble de Goff, Ingram récupère pour le TD ! pic.twitter.com/h2oy1Tr0ee— NFL France (@FirstDownFR) August 27, 2017
Unexpected: The Rams Fans Chose the Fight Over the Game
I do not blame the Rams fans who didn’t show up for the #FightForLA game because Coach McVay sat a dozen of his star players that easily would have played if the game mattered. But the optics weren’t great to see so many empty seats after we’ve been talking trash to the Charger fans all week. However, the Chargers fans found a way to embarrass themselves, so it’s all good.
Expected: Malcolm Brown and Josh Reynolds Proved Their Worth
Probably the most positive takeaway from the game has to be the solid performances by RB Malcolm Brown and WR Josh Reynolds. I feel like there is no question that Brown will be the #2 back to Todd Gurley, he made his case loud and clear. And with another big touchdown catch from Sean Mannion, Reynolds has quickly become a fan favorite. He has the size and ability that was missing from last year’s receiving core and like Cooper Kupp, he’s only getting comfortable in his short time with the offense.
Unexpected: The Rams Came Back and Made It A Game
I will admit that after 21-0 score, I thought McVay was going to call it a night and just play it safe in an effort to not hurt any of the backups. But It was surprising to see QB Sean Mannion sling the ball all over the field. Mannion’s high throw to Josh Reynolds that left him exposed enough to receive a brutal hit was hard to watch, but it showed that the team wasn’t going to slink away into the night. It does say something about this team that they were able to score 19 unanswered points. I did not see that coming after the first quarter.
For better or for worse, this Rams team is ready to play against the Colts in Week One. This game was not a great look for the Rams, but it was a necessary experience to show the coaching stuff what they need to improve. Saturday nights squad on the field isn’t the Rams team we’re going to see in the regular season, so we can relax with the understanding that guys like Robert Quinn and Todd Gurley are going to play in Week One, we just have to be patient.