Coming off the wreckage of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers game there were some encouraging signals which Rams fans should take note of.
First, playing a division rival is tough sledding. Playing at CenturyLink Field is even tougher. The Rams could’ve won the game, but the walkoff 44-yard field goal which we’ve come to expect would be nailed by K Greg Zuerlein missed by inches.
No big deal. These things happen.
Coming off a loss where special teams, defense and offense were abysmal, we had to right the ship. The Rams made a lot of progress against the Seahawks.
The Rams ran the ball more. It wasn’t enough, but it was more then usual. The Rams’ offense seemed unstoppable in the second half. But for some great plays by QB Russell Wilson and the Seahawks’ defense, it might not have been as close as it turned out. The pass play to WR Tyler Lockett was well-covered. It simply was a great toss and catch. The interception by S Tedric Thompson was a terrific play and justifies why the NFL needs instant replay.
Neither of these plays costs the Rams the game per se. The Rams have some work left to do, but the problems are more identifiable and are easily correctable.
Wilson didn’t kill the Rams. Sloppy defense did.
The most basic part of defense is tackling. Every football fan knows that you can’t let Wilson extend plays, either with his arm or legs. Too many times when the Rams got pressure, they failed to follow through with a fundamental form tackle and in many cases left a lane for Wilson to use his legs. Defending against Wilson requires that you keep him in the pocket. When the pocket was collapsing, the Rams simply let Wilson get away, This is what Wilson does best, and he took advantage of it. There’s only one other quarterback in the league who has the uncanny knack for seemingly making plays when it looks like he’s doomed, and that’s Kansas City Chiefs QB Patrick Mahomes.
Chasing Wilson around tires out the defensive line and is especially debilitating when he’s able to escape and instead of losing yardage he picks up a first down, or turns a possible third-and-long into third-and-short.
The Rams just need to do better at both keeping the quarterback in the pocket and wrapping him up when they have the sack (3k’s favorite statistic).
Wilson is unique, and facing other teams I wouldn’t expect that the opposing team’s quarterback to have as much success as he did. When the Seahawks come to Los Angeles, it will be an entirely different atmosphere, and I’m going to go out a limb and say the Rams will win that game.
CB Marcus Peters isn’t playing well. He knows that. He seems frustrated. Rams fans are used to this. When Seattle WR David Moore caught a sideline pass, Peters was not only out of position, he was looking to the middle of field when the ball was snapped. There was no way he was going to make that tackle once Moore caught the ball and rumbled ten yards into the end zone.
The solution is simple, what Peters needs to do is focus instead of trying so hard to make a big play.
“Do your job.”
The Rams’ offense finally found some needed rhythm
QB Jared Goff didn’t have a great game and once again an especially slow start in the first half starting 2/9. His slow starts are hurting the Rams’ offense. In the second half, he came to life. There were a few bad throws and a few bad decisions made in the third and fourth quarters, but those are correctable.
What the Rams did, which they haven’t done in the first four games, was get RB Todd Gurley more involved in the offense. Although he only had 51 yards rushing, Todd was out there for 93% of the snaps and the Rams were able to exploit the focus and attention paid to him by going to tight ends Gerald Everett and Tyler Higbee. After that, it was easy pickings with Seattle’s defense focusing on Henderson and Higbee for the Rams to go to WR Robert Woods, Cooper Kupp and Brandin Cooks. The Rams need to build on this confidence displayed in their tight ends, which has been missing from Sean McVay’s offensive strategy. I like what I saw against Seattle, and not too many teams are as stout on defense as the Seahawks are.
What hurt the Rams the most was their inability to put the ball in the end zone early. There’s a big difference between being up 6-0 and 14-0. The Rams squandered the first series turnover and on their ensuing drive once again only came up with three points.
Both teams were lousy on third down, but the bottom line is that Goff has to play better in the first half which has been a problem plaguing him through the first five games.
What about the roughing the passer penalty against Clay Matthews?
Get over it. Inconsistency is the corner stone of NFL officiating. That’s why the league instituted instant replay in the first place—to get the call right. However, instant replay is limited to only certain plays. It was a bad call, but it wasn’t the reason the Rams lost the game...missing the field goal was.
Absent that one call, the referees weren’t that bad.
Why should Rams fans be so encouraged having lost two games in a row?
The game against Tampa Bay was a demoralizing loss. The game against Seattle was not. It was a hard-fought game. The ship was righted in the correct direction, and the Rams should build on the success and correct the mistakes which are more easily identifiable.
I believe that the Rams are going to win the next three games and be 6-2 at the halfway mark. That’s right where the team needs to be for the big push towards the playoffs.
I’m encouraged by what I saw this week.
Now is not the time to jump off the bandwagon but rather the time to jump on. With a little rest and relaxing and the Whiners coming to town for a game, which is a must win for the Rams, I’m looking forward to it with renewed hope and optimism.