The Los Angeles Rams fought their way into a professional win over the New Orleans Saints in Week 2, 27-9. While the obvious major outcome was the injury to Saints QB Drew Brees who is expected to miss the next 6-8 games and the Saints’ continued (albeit fair) gripes with yet another refereeing mistake, those don’t obscure what was a very fine performance from the Rams’ defense and an offensive showing that was strengthened by late adjustments.
The Rams will need to get some injury information back before heading in to the first practice on Wednesday, but here’s where things sit.
While the back injury that forced DL Aaron Donald out of the game momentarily was the most worrisome, the more severe injuries were the ones to RG Austin Blythe and TE Tyler Higbee.
Blythe looked to both hyperextend his knee and injure his ankle in a pretty gross play in the 2nd quarter two plays before the fumble-that-wasn’t from QB Jared Goff. Higbee picked up a chest contusion that, per NFL Media’s Ian Rapoport, injured a lung to the point he was coughing up blood. Sounds horrible, TBH. Hoping for the best on both, but fair to assume we’re going to be without them for a while.
And we’ll see how AD99’s back has responded, along with any other issues across the roster, when we get the initial injury report on Wednesday.
Let’s start on offense.
Things obviously got off to a very, very slow start. The Rams’ first six possessions ended with two field goals, three punts and the fumble. Not good. The next three possessions? Three touchdowns. So there’s solace to be had in that the Rams were able to get things going late to open a lead and expand on it while the defense continued to dominate. I would point out that a week after the Rams had maybe their worst special teams performance since John Fassel became the Rams’ special teams coordinator in 2012, it was PR JoJo Natson, Jr.’s punt return to the Saints’ 26-yard line that set up the second touchdown. The Rams essentially had one good drive for a TD, one set up by the Natson return and one set up by WR Cooper Kupp going beastmode:
Now, on defense? The Rams’ blueprint worked to perfection. Donald was a wrecking ball up front while the secondary played out of their minds. There were numerous plays where Brees or backup QB Teddy Bridgewater were well protected and scanned the field to no avail. The Rams clamped down on WR Michael Thomas save for the fourth quarter when his contributions were, ultimately, for naught. And the run defense was stifling against a very talented RB Alvin Kamara. Are there concerns for the edge rushing? Sure, but there were last year as the Rams jumped out to an 8-0 record and finished 13-3 in the regular season. We’ll have to see how this blueprint fares week-to-week, but there’s no doubt that it was extremely successful yesterday.
Well, it’s super early. Not much to be gained from looking at things in the division or the conference at this point, but worth noting the NFC West is out to the best start of any division in the NFL:
Lots of football to be played between these four teams. Certainly worth taking note that the San Francisco 49ers have scored 72 points in two games, but things should normalize over the next month with the Pittsburgh Steelers, Cleveland Browns and us over the next three games.
And I have to say, I’m very intrigued by Arizona Cardinals QB Kyler Murray. There’s a lot to like for Cards fans moving forward, though they’ve got some significant roster gaps they’re going to have to address to help him mature at this level (see: offensive line).
As for the NFC writ large:
The Green Bay Packers successfully managed the NFC North gauntlet of the Chicago Bears and Minnesota Vikings through two weeks. And the Dallas Cowboys’ offense under new Offensive Coordinator Kellen Moore looks very, very good.
Three of those four teams without a win shouldn’t surprise. But the Carolina Panthers? That’s a very good roster for a team that started 2018 going 6-2 that has now won one of their last 10 games. They now go on the road for a two-game swing against the Cards and Houston Texans before coming home to a very frustrated Jacksonville Jaguars before heading to London to take on a Tampa Bay Buccaneers team they just lost to at home. They’re risking this falling apart on them just as it barely gets started akin to the 2017 Los Angeles Chargers who started 0-4 which proved costly when they finished 9-7 and missed the playoffs by a hair.