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Los Angeles Rams Vs. Washington: Why The Game Film Shows McVay’s Coaching Should Raise Our Expectations

In a game with a mixed bag of surprises, what’s most shocking about the Rams’ performance is their transformation to a team on the rise.

Washington Redskins vs Los Angeles Rams Photo by Harry How/Getty Images

Last week’s victory against the Indianapolis Colts didn’t exactly push a healthy amount of praise onto the Los Angeles Rams. The 46-9 beat down was impressive, sure, but the narrative seemed to focus more on how bad the Colts looked and the half-empty stadium optics. The biggest question for the team going into week 2 was: what would the Rams play like against a team capable of a winning record?

We did learn a great deal about the potential of this young Rams team in their heartbreaking 27-20 loss to Washington.

Here are the aspects of the game that were unexpected and others that felt like the typical Rams team we all know and love.

Unexpected: RB Todd Gurley was the beating heart of the Rams offense

One thing we knew going into this game was that Washington was strong against the run when they played the Philadelphia Eagles. It was safe to assume that the Rams were going to move the ball down the field with Todd Gurley as a decoy. Well, for someone that’s been critical of Mr. Gurley as of late, I was surprised (and very happy) to see him play so aggressively. He averaged a very impressive 5.5 yards per carry, racking up 88 yards on the ground and 48 yards receiving.

Todd Gurley’s 18-yard touchdown catch was the most impressive play of the NFL weekend, hands down.

Expected: QB Jared Goff telegraphing his passes is a problem

In a broad sense, I was cool with Jared Goff’s performance. It’s crazy to think that Goff has a solid chance to throw for 4,000 yards. He feels more like a confident leader that could improve enough to take the Rams into the playoffs and do some damage; maybe not this year, but with more positive development, it’s in the cards. But with all of the potential that Goff possesses, he has his flaws: one of them is that he telegraphs his passes, sometimes even forcing the ball without looking around for other targets. When Jared Goff wants to throw to Cooper Kupp, he might as well send a text message to the other team’s coaching staff — it’s that obvious.

Jared Goff’s final pass attempt of the game illustrates that point. He was intercepted because he was unable to give any other indication that he was capable of something else. Goff had this problem last year as well, so that’s why it’s not a surprise that it reared its ugly head at the worst possible moment.

Now that the league knows that Jared Goff really really really trusts Cooper Kupp, he’ll have to use some trickery to keep up the bromance.

Unexpected: TE rookie Gerald Everett makes a strong case for starter

Going into the regular season, it still felt like TE Tyler Higbee was going to be a primary big blocking target for Jared Goff. However, week 2’s game felt like the arrival of rookie and soon-to-be NFL star Gerald Everett. Catching all three of the passes thrown to him, Everett proved that he’s fantastic at gaining yards after the catch with a 69 yard reception. Everett also had a spectacular grab that led to a vicious hit, sending him out of the game with a thigh injury. Even though Everett made an impressive catch last week as well, his 95 yards off 3 catches raises more eyebrows. Pick up this guy for your fantasy team — he’s going to keep putting points on the board.

Expected: Coach Sean McVay is good, but can’t fix the Rams overnight

As the sports media seems to fawn over Coach Sean McVay, most will admit that it’s almost impossible to change the culture of this team overnight. They’re still going to get penalties at an alarming rate. Coach McVay even did an impression of Jeff Fisher by blowing a timeout. The team was frustrating in fits and starts, as if the young coach is still ironing out the identity of the team. However, it was very encouraging to see the positive effects of what Coach Sean McVay has already contributed to this team. Todd Gurley even remarked after the game, "Last year it would've been a lot different. It would've been 27-3, instead of just us as an offense being able to put points on the board and be able to keep our defense in it. It's a start."

Unexpected: Robert Woods loses his composure

When the Rams signed WR Robert Woods as a free agent, he was billed as a sure-handed receiver that wasn’t flashy, but incredibly dependable. On Sunday, Woods played like he couldn’t get out of his own way. Mental errors led to two costly penalties on the same drive late in the game, including a pass interference call that negated a catch by Todd Gurley that would have set up the Rams on the 5-yard line. It’s probably helpful to point out that Robert Woods is only 25 years old, so I’m ready to chalk this up to a bad game that he can most likely learn from.

Expected: The defense looked like they were in preseason form

Look, I kind of hate the preseason, but guys like OLB Robert Quinn, MLB Alec Ogletree, and DT Aaron Donald looked like this was their first or second time they’ve played a game at NFL speed this season. In fact, this was Donald’s first NFL action since last year. Yes, he showed flashes of his immense talent, but the entire defensive unit got pushed up and down the field by Washington’s running game, to the tune of 229 yards. It felt like Robert Quinn couldn’t stay in the game for more than three plays in a row; hopefully he still just needs to get in game shape.

For most Rams fans, this game was a roller coaster of emotions that eventually ended up in disappointment. However, a lot was learned about the identity of this team and it was mostly encouraging.

It may not be pretty just yet, but the LA Rams are ready to compete.