Whether it’s been the play of individual team stars like QB Jared Goff, RB Todd Gurley or LT Andrew Whitworth, or the play of team units like the offensive line or linebackers or the playcalling and coaching from Head Coach Sean McVay and his staff, the Rams have been to transform themselves week-to-week for better and for worse.
The Rams’ last two games are a fine example of the unpredictability of the 2019 season.
The Rams had their best half of the season in the first 30 minutes against the Seattle Seahawks, an 11-3 team that could win the NFC West and capture the top seed in the conference for the 2020 playoffs. A week later, they had maybe their worst half of the season in the first 30 minutes against the Dallas Cowboys, a then 6-7 team reeling off the back of two losses. How was the Rams’ offensive line capable of holding up against the Chicago Bears and Seahawks but completely overwhelmed by the Hot Boyz? How could the Rams’ defensive front clog up running lanes against nearly every opponent only to get driven off the ball all day against the Cowboys in the middle of RB Ezekiel Elliott’s worst year in the NFL to this point?
There aren’t coherent answers. Football is complex and itinerant. Outside of the damn New England Patriots, every season brings about new unknowns and new knowns. So now the Rams are forced to confront that inconsistency both to finish out the season and to begin the 2020 offseason.
Against the 11-3 San Francisco 49ers who dominated the Rams’ offensive line en route to a 20-7 Niners win in Week 6, the Rams will likely again bring about an inconsistency if only because the passing game is almost certain to have a stronger impact than it did that day. Goff finished with 78 passing yards in that game. Seventy-eight, the lowest single game total in his career lower than any in his rookie year under Head Coach Jeff Fisher. That alone is a stark reminder of the volatility of the inconsistency in 2019, but this weekend will likely be another. So too for the run defense that just got gashed by Dallas that bottled up 49ers running backs Tevin Coleman and Matt Breida who combined for just 81 yards on 31 carries.
I’m not suggesting the Rams are going to win. I am suggesting that they could and that we could get strong performances throughout the team. I’m also suggesting they could implode to finish the regular season in Arizona against the Cardinals. I’m also suggesting it’s relatively unimportant as long as the Rams lose one or the Minnesota Vikings win one of their remaining games.
More important is what it means heading into the offseason when the Rams began evaluating just what the hell happened this year and what they’re going to do about it.
How do the Rams find a consistency in performance in 2020? How much is down to coaching and the roster core summoning more consistent outputs not in terms of statistics but in terms of performance? Consider Gurley’s words in the aftermath of the loss in Week 15 per ESPN Rams Blogger Lindsey Thiry:
Those guys came out and just looked like and they played better than we did and they wanted more than we did.
It’s pretty impossible to justify not “wanting” it enough in December. That’s something a free agent or draft pick can’t fix.
And that’s part of the problem with the inconsistent 2019 Rams. It’s not a personnel problem. It’s beyond the roster.
And it’s at the heart of what went wrong this year and what has to be addressed if the Rams want to get back to the playoffs in 2020.