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Los Angeles Rams Vs. Washington: 2nd Down, Second Guessing

The defense did not play to standard in the Rams’ 20-27 loss.

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

The Tone of the Game Was Dictated By Referees

Coming into the game, the Los Angeles Rams’ defense was supposed to be able to shut down Washington and QB Kirk Cousins. For the most part, the Rams did just that. What the Rams defense didn’t do was stop the run.

Give credit to Washington’s RB(s). They made the plays when it counted, dictated by the opening series.

99.9% of the time when a defensive line get penetration on a run play, the run gets stuffed. The Rams defense got the penetration on Washington’s trap plays; however Washington’s RB(s) took advantage of the Rams OLB over aggressiveness by bouncing these runs outside for big gains.

Last week when the Gurley ran to the outside against the Indianapolis Colts’ D-line, having read the same thing he too was able to bounce the play ten-yard gains. After Ram fans were giving high fives to each other, we turned back to the field, and lying on the grass was the dreaded penalty flag for “holding.”

One can have no issue with the referees for calling holding when there is holding. Nor can one have issue with referees when not making calls and letting the players play as long its consistent and equally applied to both teams. But, when the defense gets the penetration to stuff the run and are being pulled down by the offensive lineman just as they were to make the tackle, the defense has to adjust when there isn’t a holding call.

In this game, Washington had four penalties for 25 yards to the Rams’ seven penalties for 75 yards. Even though this is as one-sided as can be, you have to overcome this.

In the first half, the Rams made an “in-game adjustment” to widen their defense and brought the corners and safeties up. As a result, is was just a matter of time before something was going to break up the middle for Washington. At the right time and the right place, Washington ran a draw catching the Rams defense with their pants down and flat-footed.

Instead of the Rams going into into halftime down 13-10, they Rams were down 20-10. The draw play put Washington to close to 200 yards rushing in just the first two quarters alone.

Who needs Kirk Cousins to pass when your in second down and five to go all day?

Right then and there, Rams fans knew this was going to a tough game to win. A win was going to come down to the Rams offense pulling one out for the defense for a change.

While it would be easy to compliment the Rams defense for getting the job in the second half, they completely botched it once the Rams offense had tied the game by allowing Washington to mount a masterful game-winning drive leading to a TD with less than two minutes remaining.

Washington made the plays when they needed and the Rams didn’t. The tone and feel of the game had been set on the opening drive—the referees were going to let the Washington players play and make the Rams work for it.

What Went Wrong With The Defense?

Bad game for the D.

This team is far too talented to allow Washington to run all over them; nonetheless, that’s exactly what happened. The reason was simple—they got outcoached in the first half and when Washington did on occasion find themselves in 3rd and long, sloppy tackling led to 1st downs.

As one of the worst first halves the Rams defense has played in a long time, when things like this happen it’s up to the offense to get the Rams back in the game. Once the mistakes are corrected, shutting your opponent down with three and outs, the defense will have turned the tide giving the offense the chance to win the game.

The battle lines were defined for the 3rd quarter: if the defense can hold changing field position balance in favor of the Rams, the offense could finally be in the position to score some much needed points.

In this game that didn’t happen; instead, the Rams defense gave up too many first downs forcing the offense to start deep in their own territory.

When the Rams offense did wind up with good field position they did what did what has plagued them for the last fifteen years on offense—commit self=inflicted wounds by managing to garner unnecessary penalties.

Nonetheless as bad as that was, when the 4th quarter came around the game was tied. All the defense needed to do was make a stop. The Rams’ defense failed.

On more than one third and long, the Rams defense allowed Washington to march down the field putting Washington in the position to win the game

On the critical 3rd and long event, with the crowd on their side, just outside the ten yard line, Kirk Cousins dropped back to pass and with no pass rush to speak of (something that the Rams defense was unable to generate the whole day, unless they blitzed), he made the critical throw.

Touchdown Washington.

Instead of being down by three with GZ ready to make one those of 50-yard plus field goals to win, the Rams were down by seven with under two minutes and things looked bleak.

The Offense

This team will go as far as QB Jared Goff takes it. Have a bad game, the Rams lose. Have an okay game and the Rams will win some and lose some. Have a great game, the Rams win.

After having two days to absorb the loss, I will have to admit Goff had a decent game.

Goff led the team on a long drive making a good read by hitting a wide open TE Gerald Everett for 65 yards putting the Rams within three points of tying the game going into the 4th quarter.

On the negative side, Goff has to learn to look off the primary receiver and find someone else other then WR Cooper Kupp in big situations. He also needs to have more crispness on his throws as they tend to wobble and float in the air.

When you’re an NFL QB if you decide that you’re going to run, then run don’t pull back. Yes, you should always pass first and run second, but keep in mind there are eleven defensive players just waiting to eat you alive from the back side.

In addition, Goff still has a problem holding onto the football when he gets sacked. This is the result of not knowing what’s around you.

In this game Goff, moved out the pocket, but when you feel you have all the time in the world to pass and comfortable—you’re fooling yourself. Someone from the defense is always chasing you. If you don’t see the play open up, get rid of the ball. Throw it out of bounds. If you decide to pull the ball down to wait for the receivers to get open by beginning to cock your arm, invariably this behemoth of a person comes crashing down on you. Learn to become aware of this and you will know to tuck the ball away so the offense can live to play for another play.

Lucky for the Rams, they recovered the fumble.

Gurley had a good day. He ran well and of course made some huge plays catching the ball out the backfield. The one-two punch that Ram fans have been expecting to see is beginning to take shape.

The run game still needs some work, but it’s quite improvement from both last week’s game and the entire 2016 season.

Coaching Goff

Nothing irks a football observer more the seeing a QB make a bad read and throw. The first thing that comes to your mind is “what was he thinking?!”

While the Rams were down by seven with less than two minutes and even though Rams fans knew it would be a daunting task to pull it out the tie, there was still hope. Hope that Jared would demonstrate to Rams fans their patience was finally going to pay off, setting the team up for the tying TD.

So what does the “Boy Wonder” do to rekindle our faith—on the first play of the all important drive, he makes a terrible read and throws into double coverage which is picked off by Washington to seal the game.

This is on Goff. It’s not on the coach for “making a bad call.”

No one learns until you’re forced to recognize your mistakes. Yes, it might very well have been a bad call which a head coach can say privately to his QB, but as QB in a desperate situation needing a game tying TD when you see your receiver is covered THROW THE BALL OUT OF BOUNDS. Forcing the ball into double coverage as Goff did is all on Goff.

If the call was truly as bad as the head coach says, then fans have to question why the team would hire such a dope to lead the team. Bill Belichick doesn’t go on TV after the game and publicly say, “You know I blew it, it’s all on me, I’m stupid.” Instead, he says, “We got outcoached, and outplayed. Credit the Kansas City Chiefs.” When Belichick made what many call a bonehead call against the then Peyton Manning -led Colts by going for it on 4th down in his own territory, he didn’t say “I’m crazy, I have no idea what I’m doing out there.” Rather he doubled down on his decision, justifying his football knowledge by saying “You just can’t give Peyton Manning the ball back.”

Coach McVay has to stop making excuses for Goff. He’s not a baby. He’s a NFL QB. He’s the starting QB for the Los Angeles Rams and he is expected to play like Bob Waterfield, Norm Van Brocklin, Roman Gabriel and Vince Ferragamo. Don’t cuddle him, teach him!

I’m all for the “We not me” mentality. I’m also big on holding one accountable, players and coaches alike, but the when you lose a game like this, it was because the Rams didn’t come prepared to play football.

Last, week the Rams won a game against the Luck-less Colts. This week, the Rams stunk up the field against Washington.

And who should the fans blame for this? Everybody involved.