LA Rams are 2-1 and might be atop the NFC West after this weekend is over, mostly thanks to a completely improved offense. Each week, however, there are players or units of players that don’t carry as much weight as fans think they should. Week 1: Todd Gurley; week 2: Robert Woods, Alec Ogletree; However, each following week, those players/units step-up and play better. Week 2, Todd Gurley finally looked a little comfortable in the backfield and catching the ball. Week 3, Robert Woods goes for 6 catches 106 yards – the man who
single-highhandedly lost the had a bad game against Washington goes for over 100 yards, about gets killed by a safety, and keeps playing.
Who made the fanbase mad this week? The entire defense (run and pass) takes the cake. Go read Rams fans’ frustration on Twitter. Some folks called-out a 70-year-old Wade Phillips for not having players ready or not in correct positions, some called-out players individually, etc. Taking a step away from the exciting game, I don’t think the D as bad as some think and here is why I think so.
First thing that jumps out: special team turnovers were huge in the 4th quarter, where the comeback started. 49ers got their turnovers out of the way early, got in hole early; Rams did the opposite, thus the comeback. A turnover on kickoff puts the defense right back out. An amazing onside kick, defense goes right back out. This issue leads directly to the next one.
Time of possession reads as follows: Rams – 29:43, 49ers – 30:17. Pretty even. Unless you watched the game. Rams’ offense barely saw the field in the 4th quarter, they scored on one drive, other drives were short, which means defense was out there way more than it should have been. One of the drives felt like the Rams relaxed too early, quick 3-and-out, the defense is back out there and 49ers are driving. The D was gassed at the end of the game. This caused Fisher’s Rams to lose numerous games, the good D just couldn’t keep it up. In the past, it was the anemic offense to tire-out the D, turnovers did it on Thursday.
Let’s talk about the catches made by the 49ers wide receivers. I can think of three amazing catches by their offense. When I say amazing, it’s not just a great catch, it is a fantastic catch that fans are lucky to see a couple times a season. And there were three…in one game. Two toe-drag sideline catches in crucial situation (had to be reviewed) and one deep bomb to Garcon (similar to a play Danario Alexander dropped vs Seahawks in 2010…I’m not bitter.) In the past, one huge catch buried the Rams vs 49ers. Last Super Bowl had two amazing catches, one by each team. Three in this game by SF and the Rams somehow won.
Interception on the first play of the game, forced fumble, a great stand at midfield ending the game with a huge sack, when the Rams were supposed to lose by a point off a field goal.
Watching end of the game on Thursday Night Football, it felt like another one of those games that got away. A SOSAR game. Same crap, different toilet. Then they won. When McVay and Co. make a statement about addressing a certain issue, they follow through. Coaching makes all the difference in the world. Let’s hope the defense somehow flips the switch during their 10 days off and shuts down the Cowboys.
Other things to consider: injuries to Joyner and Webster, first new DC in 4 years, completely new 3-4 scheme using mostly 4-3 personnel.