What a week, huh?
The Los Angeles Rams broke their losing streak to the San Francisco 49ers, on the road, all while putting up 41 points on primetime television. The team is now 2-1, and everyone is excited with the team once again.
But it was around this time last year that everyone was tipping their caps to the Rams for being 3-1 under Jeff Fisher. The team was No. 1 in the division, and their defense was clamping down on opposing offenses. So this time around, its wise to carry a shred a of doubt when looking at this team.
However, there is a major difference between the 2017 Rams and the 2016 Rams: legitimacy.
I don’t know how in the hell Fisher’s Rams got to be 3-1, other than capitalizing on division knowledge and trying to ride their team’s specialty (defense) to the end of the season. Fisher’s Rams didn’t adapt nor grow; they were the same team week-to-week. As were the excuses Fisher fed the media.
This time around, Sean McVay isn’t asking you to pay no attention to the man behind the curtain. He’s up front, leading the team with knowledge, an openness for learning and growth, and a full belief of his process as a head coach.
A lot can change in the 13 games left to play. The Rams could ride a losing streak and miss the playoffs once again. But it won’t be the Same Ol’ Rams. It will be McVay’s Rams learning from their mistakes, adapting their game, and becoming a winning football team.
Now, let’s review what we learned from this past week.
Don’t compare these Rams to the Greatest Show on Turf Rams
I understand the excitement of the fan base. I do. But this is like calling yourself Gordon Ramsey because you learned how to use paprika on your severely burnt chicken.
The Rams are the No. 1 offense in the league right now, but the offense still needs some work. The running-game is middle-of-the-pack at-best, and RB Todd Gurley is just starting to recover from the worst stretch of his career: 14 straight games without rushing for more than 80 yards.
It’s been three games. Let’s give these Rams more time to prove themselves through a 16-game season.
It’s strange having good wide receivers
Watkins and WR Robert Woods both had 100-yard receiving days. Two. It wasn’t that long ago when just having one receiver (Kenny Britt) with a 100-yard day was something to brag about following a 9-6 win.
But two? Fans everywhere are embarrassed with wealth right now.
The defense has a long way to go
On Thursday night, the Rams had every reason to celebrate: they are above .500 for the second time in three games, they scored 41 points, and won a primetime game.
In that game, QB Brian Hoyer threw for 99 yards. Against the Rams, Hoyer threw for more than 300 yards and looked like Joe Montana in the 1981 NFC Championship Game. After the opening drive interception, Hoyer couldn’t be stopped.
Neither could the running game, which recorded more than 100 against LA.
Some might point to the system the Rams are in, but I doubt that. It has more to do with the players in the system, than vice versa. Speaking of which...
LB Alec Ogeltree is struggling
It’s been three games, and Ogeltree doesn’t seem to be making any improvements.
His first game against the Indianapolis Colts was easy to miss. The Rams went on a tear and the defense as a whole only surrendered nine points. But as the season progressed, Ogeltree’s play in the middle continued to regress.
Despite ProFootballFocus giving him one of the highest grades on the team, Ogeltree looked pretty bad on film.
While the play has been bad, we have to understand how much a system change impacts players. Wade Phillips spoke to Orange County Register’s Rich Hammond about the run-defense issues before last Thursday’s game.
ESPN’s Cian Fahey, however, also provides an opinion about Ogeltree I agree with: lack of discipline in the position.
Alec Ogletree been running around like a headless chicken for years and Greg Williams is sat on the sideline applauding.— Cian Fahey (@Cianaf) July 3, 2017
Some things you cannot blame on the scheme. Below is a play that left me scratching my head. Ogeltree is showing blitz and is lined up in 5-Technique, yet his assignment is covering the running back.
I doubt the play was designed to have Ogeltree be put at such a disadvantage from the get-go. From my perspective, Ogeltree misjudged his decision to show blitz to try and throw the line assignments.
WR Tavon Austin has found his role on the team
Sean McVay found a role for Austin in the offense and it’s one where the chances of him screwing up are minimal. He is now the perpetual man in motion.
You could argue it’s also the punt-dropper, emo-Tweeter or the snap dragon (one small moment of excitement followed by nothing for the rest of the day), and I would understand. But it’s the man in motion.
Teams have caught onto the new role, choosing to not give Austin much attention, just like McVay wanted.
Austin finally got the ball after running his complex motion routes and in true Tavon Austin form, failed to get the job done and was stopped just short of the goal-line.