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What We Learned: Los Angeles Rams versus Arizona Cardinals

The Rams have a new toy on offense, but how will they use C.J. Anderson moving forward?

NFL: Los Angeles Rams at Arizona Cardinals
Plenty of Rams fans made the trip to Glendale, Arizona to watch the Rams get back on track as the playoffs near.
Matt Kartozian-USA TODAY Sports

The Los Angeles Rams have a new toy on offense. Remember when we were all wondering why the Rams let special-teamer Pharoh Cooper go? That was about 167 yards ago. C.J. Anderson was asked to slap on some curly horns and start for an 11-3 team in a game with playoff implications, and he responded in a major way. While the dinged up Todd Gurley is a great one, it was also great to have some fresh legs on the field while Todd is on the mend.

The Rams will be able to utilize Anderson in a variety of ways moving forward. While Todd Gurley is a big physical back in his own right, the interior gashing that Anderson can provide will be helpful in those gotta have it short-yardage situations, as well as in the redzone. It seems fair to think that Rams may opt to give him up to ten carries a game as a compliment to Gurley, kind of like the Seattle Seahawks do with their stable of running backs, and become a true ground-and-pound team. If they can dominate on the ground, the Rams could become even more dangerous than they were early this season, and that’s saying a lot.

Need proof?

Just look at that beautiful play action that resulted in a touchdown to Robert Woods in the fourth quarter. The more the Rams can beat up an opponent on the ground, the better Jared Goff will look. Of course, all this took place against a poor Arizona run defense, so don’t expect things to always run so smoothly. But still, the Rams may have found a recipe to play effective playoff football.

While they still primarily utilized 11 personnel, the Rams showed an increased willingness to also use two tight end sets today. Both Gerald Everett and Tyler Higbee made a handful of critical blocks against the Arizona Cardinals. In the post Cooper Kupp era, the Rams may continue to trend in this direction as they prepare for what promises to be a physical slate of opponents in the playoffs.

The offensive line played better. They weren’t outright dominant, but were mostly good, especially when run blocking. The line sort of started resembling a single organism again, rumbling out toward the flats on zone schemes, and not having very many apparent blown assignments. One area of concern is center John Sullivan who continued to struggle with the strength of the Cardinals interior line. It will be interesting to see what the Rams do with Sullivan after this season. They could call it a wrap and take on $1,000,000 in dead money, or keep him on ice and use him to mentor Brian Allen or whoever they decide else they decide to start.

Overall the Rams beat the Cardinals, just as eleven other teams have done this season. But the game wasn’t just about winning, it was about finding the their long-lost mojo and figuring out a formula that might help out in the playoffs. That happened on Sunday, so it was nice step heading into their final game against the San Francisco 49ers.