Lots to unpack, but let’s take perspective of the bigger picture here on Overreaction Monday.
Thankfully, the Rams didn’t seem to add anyone to the injury list. The bigger factor here though was the impact of the two guys who were out: TE Tyler Higbee and RG Austin Blythe.
The latter’s absence meant OL Jamil Demby got the start, and he predictably had a rough go of it early on. He, and his interior linemates in LG Joseph Noteboom and C Brian Allen, had some tough work in the first half. They improved over the course of the game which is good to see from some younger players. It meant though that Rams Head Coach Sean McVay couldn’t rely on the young trio early on which meant the Rams had to restrict their offense with the Browns going six-wide up front. The results were pretty unenjoyable, but such was the cost of not having a line to trust. There’s a fair question to be asked why McVay preferred WR screens to HB screens with RB Todd Gurley to try to work against the Browns’ blitz packages, but overall the Rams couldn’t find much success with those and certainly nothing like what the Browns got on their well-timed screen call to RB Nick Chubb.
As for Higbee’s absence, it meant QB Jared Goff didn’t have one of his favorite release valves available. It’s certainly fair to wonder what the impact was there in the first half, though at least he had WR Cooper Kupp as a go to.
But hopefully it was a one off. Higbee and Blythe might be back next week, and these things might have been an anomaly if McVay can trust his OL’s second half performance more than their first half showing.
While a lot of the issues were related to the absences above, the two concerning performances on offense were from Goff and Gurley. Neither did themselves any favors to correct the narratives around them coming into this season in Week 3. Hopefully we get an offensive explosion to put to bed the growing concerns, because if the Rams can’t get going against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and Seattle Seahawks those concerns are going to gain quite a bit of validity.
Defensively though...wow. The combination of the Rams’ secondary working in tandem with DL Aaron Donald up front is absolutely shutting things down overall. It’s early, but Defensive Coordinator Wade Phillips is in the running for coach of the year.
The Seahawks came up just short at home against the New Orleans Saints in Week 3. Otherwise, we’d be talking about three undefeated teams in the NFC West. It’s still the highest win total of any three teams in a division through three games.
As for the conference:
Four undefeateds. The real surprise might be the Detroit Lions. Gotta wonder if that Week 1 tie against the Arizona Cardinals is going to come back to bite them. And with the Chicago Bears and Washington Monday Night Football Players on Monday Night Football tonight remaining, some very surprising teams at 1-2. Not quite panic mode for the Atlanta Falcons, Carolina Panthers and Philadelphia Eagles...but only just. A loss in Week 4 for any would likely kick panic mode into full swing.