The grade speaks for itself. Los Angeles Rams QB Jared Goff’s small, frozen hands, threw four wobbly interceptions on the night — and it could have been worse. It’s as if all of Goff’s bad traits (inaccurate throws, poor decisions, holding the ball too long) were magnified by the Chicago Bears defense. Given time and a running game, we’ve all seen what Goff can do, but tonight he had neither, and against an elite D in cold, hostile conditions, he imploded.
Players have bad games. The concern here is that Goff has now had two in a row, and sans security blanket WR Cooper Kupp, is regressing at the worst possible time for the Rams.
It’s hard to judge a running back on 11 carries, so really this grade registers more as an ‘incomplete’ — the C- here is for lack of impact, and doesn’t have much to do with overall play. RB Todd Gurley had a solid run on the game’s first drive, and one late, and that was about it, save for a nice broken tackle on a reception in the 4th quarter. Rams HC Sean McVay’s usage of his MVP-caliber back of late remains a head-scratcher, as play action is such a huge part of the Rams’ success. You do get the sense that he should have been a bigger part of the gameplan, something McVay will surely address with the media in the week ahead.
See: Quarterbacks. If Goff has some time and can get into a rhythm, I’m sure our WRs make some plays, but this also wasn’t really their night. WR Brandin Cooks had two uncharacteristic penalties, and was otherwise bottled up by the talented Chicago secondary. WR Robert Woods was the lone bright spot, as Mr. Consistency once again had 7 grabs for 61 yards (albeit on 12 fluttering targets). WR Josh Reynolds was pretty much terrible tonight, failing to turn upfield on a third down reception and dropping another bunny on the sideline late. Credit to the Chicago D, but this unit isn’t entirely off the hook tonight.
TE Gerald Everett was one of the few sure targets for Goff on the night, snaring a few tough grabs in traffic. He was also on the other end of P Johnny Hekker’s pass on a fake punt, and stretched for the first down. TE Tyler Higbee was mostly left in to block, and judging by the amount of pressure the Bears generated, wasn’t terribly effective.
They were offensive alright! (I’ll be here all week) Simply put, a bad night for a generally very good offensive line. Chicago Bears EDGE Khalil Mack and Co. will do that to you, but the Rams didn’t do themselves any favors with false starts and iffy protections. Halftime adjustments? How about allowing a safety on the opening drive of the second half. Once it became readily apparent that LA had abandoned the run, things went from bad to worse.
C John Sullivan missed some time in the first half, but was able to return, and G Rodger Saffold went down late — let’s hope they’re both ok, as their injuries forced us all to think about our OL depth.
Quiet. DT Aaron Donald had 2 tackles and 1 QB hit. NT Ndamukong Suh had 6 tackles and DE Michael Brockers had 5, but the Bears had a season high in rushing yards with 194. Sound familiar? Let’s face it, Chicago Bears QB Mitchell Trubisky scares no one, so the Rams front seven should have been focused on Bears RBs Tarik Cohen and Jordan Howard. The scary thing? They probably were, and still yielded nearly 200. Not unlike facing the Seattle Seahawks for the second time — the Rams know it’s coming, they just can’t stop it. Sure, we got some pressure on Trubisky when he did drop back, but we’ve come to expect more than one sack and game-changing plays from our star-studded DL.
13 games in, and it’s pretty clear the team’s glaring offseason weakness remains the team’s glaring in-season weakness, with no relief in sight. Whether he’s playing hurt, or just not a fit for this defense, ILB Mark Barron is really a shade of his former self. In the “cool story bro” department, ILB Cory Littleton’s lack of instincts continue to get exposed. UDFA, special teams standout, hey great. Does he start at LB for 90% of the teams in the NFL?
EDGE Dante Fowler was in on a sack (along with Jonathan Franklin-Meyers), and EDGE Samson Ebukam seemed to get some pressures, but no one on the unit made any real impact plays, and the scoreboard reflects that.
Ok, fine. I’ll hand out ONE passing grade, because by and large the DBs were solid, picking off Mitch Trubisky 3 times, and limiting Chicago to just 110 yards passing. CB Marcus Peters was particularly sound in coverage, as the Rams appear to finally have an understanding of how best to use him — CB Aqib Talib’s return doesn’t hurt matters (although it’s fair to question if Talib looks a step slow). Safeties John Johnson and Lamarcus Joyner were solid in both coverage and run support on the night as well.
The coverage units were fine, and it was nice to see PR Jo Jo Natson get a crack at a kickoff. In the “just not our night” column, K Greg Zuerlein missed a 40-yard FG that would have closed the gap to one score with plenty of time left, but P Johnny Hekker took the blame for a faulty hold. To walk away with 0 points on the Rams’ best drive of the night was a pretty huge momentum killer.
It’s a bit of a silly cliche, but they say the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results. Early in the game, McVay’s reliance on the pass was clearly an effort to get his young QB into some kind of a rhythm. However, when it became clear that wasn’t going to happen, re-establishing Gurley and the running game should have a been a priority. Instead? Insanity. But, you know, you’ve come THIS far, surely you’ll start to hit on something, right? Nope. That’s called the Sunk Cost Fallacy. Ever go to Vegas and think “my luck has got to change,” and it doesn’t? Emotional investment coupled with an “in too deep” mentality sunk McVay’s battleship tonight, as Mike Martz hovered above like Obi-Wan. “Shoot, we’ll fix that,” he says, and you know he’s full of shit. I’m neither calling McVay (or Wade Phillips, who thus far has been unable to fix our leaky run defense) insane or full of shit, but a loss like this raises more questions than answers, and for the first time in his head coaching career, our young coach will have to reinvent his team’s identity on the fly.
He’ll get his chance next Sunday night, with a feisty Philadelphia Eagles squad coming to the Coliseum.