After the Los Angeles Rams lost in Week 6 to the San Francisco 49ers after a pathetic offensive showing, fans were (rightfully) apoplectic about the state of the Rams’ offensive line.
After the Rams lost in Week 5 to the Seattle Seahawks as K Greg Zuerlein’s kick missed by inches, no fans were upset about the offensive line on a day on which QB Jared Goff had plenty of time to amass his 395 passing yards and marshaling two would-be gamechanging drives at the end of each half.
That’s the issue with the 2019 Los Angeles Rams.
They’re one team one week, another the next.
They’re the team that can come out and run the ball against the 49ers with RB Malcolm Brown on five of the first six plays for 40 yards en route to the lone touchdown of the day and then give Brown six more carries throughout the rest of the game for exactly 0 yards. The same team that gave Brown, and injured teammate RB Todd Gurley, five carries apiece against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in Week 4 on a day when Goff threw the ball 68 times.
They’re the team whose defense can clamp down on the Niners’ run game, maybe the best in the NFL, and limit San Francisco’s offense overall while giving up 48 points to Tampa Bay’s offense as QB Jameis Winston torched them for four touchdowns.
They’re the team with good Goff and bad Goff. The team with adequate OL performance and bottom three OL performance. The team that goes run-heavy and the team that completely abandons the run.
They’re everything and nothing at all, and that’s the problem.
Their identity is the lack of an identity.
Rams Head Coach Sean McVay last week on the Rams and specifically the running game:
I think part of it is, too, continuing to find our identity for the 2019 team. We’ve got some continuity at some spots, but we’re also figuring out what’s the best way to handle different things, accentuate our players’ skill sets. Whether that be the interior of the line, our backs, things like that. It’s something that we’re continuing to evaluate.
Rams Head Coach Sean McVay after Week 4 on the Rams and specifically the offense:
I thought guys played well, I thought they competed. As far as what you envision, that’s always hard to say. I think what we are trying to figure out is what’s the best identity for this 2019 Rams football team and ultimately the offense.
Rams Head Coach Sean McVay heading into Week 4 on the Rams and specifically the offense:
I think establishing our identity, figuring out and kind of continuing to get to know what’s going to be the best way for this offense and this season for us to really be the most efficient week in and week out. That’s definitely been something that we’re working through. What you realize is, this league is so challenging, so humbling and, really, it’s a great opportunity for us to continue to figure out, ‘All right, let’s – No. 1 – identify what do our players do best. What are those things and then how do we stay consistent with having an identity and then being able to do some things that we feel like are conducive for success.’ You’re exactly right, that’s absolutely where we’re at and that’s one of those things that we’re grinding through. I think it’s going to be something that, hopefully, we’ll continue to see improvement. It’s been a good challenge up to this point, there’s no doubt about it.
Rams Head Coach Sean McVay last week on the 49ers and specifically their defense:
It’s a great system. They’ve got great players and I think you can see there’s a clear-cut identity, but really on all three levels of their defense, they’ve got great speed, they play really well together, I think they’re opportunistic, but they create their opportunities in terms of taking the ball away. There’s an intentional approach that they take to attacking it. They’ve got guys stood up, guys are jabbing at the football, ripping at it. They’ve got guys with ball skills...and there’s a very clear-cut philosophy.
The Rams are trying to figure out who they are. And they’re doing so week to week.
But that process is one that’s fluctuating at such an alarming rate that it’s hard to really get a sense of what’s sincerely part of their identity and what’s just opportunistic grasping.
That nearly got the Rams out to a 4-1 start. But it also saw them manhandled by a 49ers team that, as of mid-October, is clearly the better team.
And the Niners having their identity and forcing the Rams adhere to it instead of the other way around is why.