What did we learn? This will not be a cakewalk folks, none of it!
Predictably, the Los Angeles Rams are facing Belichick-inspired defenses on a weekly basis this season, and it does not appear that Sean McVay is stumped any longer. The Rams seem to have adequate responses to the looks that once confounded them, however the margin for error is low right now because of an inexperienced offensive line and the evident wane of Todd Gurley’s explosiveness.
Ultimately the Rams pulled one out in a hostile environment despite losing the turnover battle 3-1, and covered the spread while they were at it. The defense may be picking up the slack left by an overall drop off in offensive production this season, but still, it would have been satisfying if the Rams could have taken advantage of an injury-ravaged Browns secondary. To their credit, 269 yards through the air is fine, especially with Gurley only gaining 3.1 per carry, but ultimately they scored only 20 points. They could have very well broken 30 if not for a Goff fumble and two interceptions, so let’s see if they can turn in cleaner efforts as they near the second quarter of the NFL season.
So far this season, the Rams offensive line has been a work in progress, inconsistent with pinch of Demby. They certainly haven’t been a top 5 level unit as they were the past two seasons, but they are currently ranked 7th in rushing yards, and are middle of the pack when it comes to quarterback hits and sacks. There’s been some heat around Jared Goff at times, but there have also been series when Goff was afforded plenty of time to let plays develop. Bottom line though, the unit gelling is the single most important thing that can happen for the Rams this season. Todd Gurley probably isn’t a Top 10 back anymore, and Jared Goff is going to have his moments, but the offense still can move the ball with the best teams in the league if they’re winning up front, we think.
It’s been a while since the offense has actually been electric. They mauled the Dallas Cowboys and Arizona Cardinals on the ground last season, and gutted one out in New Orleans, but it would be nice if they could tap into offensive nirvana again this week against the struggling Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
How good is Kupp?
Also, at the expense of sounding crazy, I’ll just pose the question-is Cooper Kupp the Rams best offensive player at this point? After watching him direct the offense from the slot and continuously create space for himself on big downs, he really seems like the heartbeat of the offense so far this season. If that were true though, it would only be by a hair, because Brandin Cooks and Robert Woods continue to shine and put themselves in the right places to keep the ball moving. The three of them seem capable of keeping the Rams offense dangerous no matter what’s going on in the trenches or with the backfield.
Also on the good news side of things, the defense is actually taking things seriously this season. They are currently ranked 3rd in yardage allowed, 3rd in opposing passer rating, and are 7th in points allowed. Who knows if the team will be able to keep Dante Fowler, John Johnson, and Cory Littleton long term, but all three have really played well. Fowler’s speed has been evident, and his early season PFF grade of 81.2. For what it’s worth Cory Littleton has a PFF grade of 80.2, and John Johnson III has a grade of 70.8. Oh, and Aaron Donald continues to do things that would make Clubber Lang wince.
The defense’s emergence may be what keeps the Rams atop the NFC while the offense looks to regain the electricity.