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Los Angeles Rams’ major loss in Week 4 shifts perspective

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Things done changed.

Los Angeles Rams RB Todd Gurley celebrates with RT Rob Havenstein and WR Robert Woods after scoring a touchdown against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in Week 4, Sep. 29, 2019.
Los Angeles Rams RB Todd Gurley celebrates with RT Rob Havenstein and WR Robert Woods after scoring a touchdown against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in Week 4, Sep. 29, 2019.
Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports

Well, yesterday was certainly an unusual game. The Los Angeles Rams lost to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in Week 4, 40-55. What’s more important is what happened in the loss and how it catapults the Rams into Week 5 with just three days between the loss and Thursday’s game against the Seattle Seahawks.

Injuries

A bit of a double-edged sword here as the Rams both picked up some injuries to key players and they’re on the short week. That means we’ll get our first injury report today, and we should expect to see ILB Bryce Hager, S Taylor Rapp and CB Marcus Peters on it. Hager exited with a shoulder injury to give way to LB Troy Reeder while Rapp left with an ankle twist to be replaced by S Marqui Christian. And CB Troy Hill had to finish the game when CB Marcus Peters was knocked out on his pick six by OT Donovan Smith.

We’ll see if the Rams had any other issues flare up yesterday or if anything goes down in practice, but I’d expect today to be extremely light given the Rams were playing less than 24 hours ago.

Performance issues

Welp.

Let’s start on offense. The offensive line had their worst game of the year. The early gameplan saw 14 passes from QB Jared Goff, a gut sweep to WR Cooper Kupp and two runs for RB Malcolm Brown before RB Todd Gurley got his first rush of the game once the Rams were already down 21-0. What was supposed to be an opportunity for the offense to break out of their early season, early game funk turned into the biggest nightmare start of 2019. And now the Rams turn to a Seahawks defense that has been very stingy against the run.

Yay.

On defense, QB Jameis Winston torched the Rams’ defense without being pressured much all day. With the Rams’ front unable to get consistent pressure, Winston sat back and picked apart the Rams’ secondary with WR Chris Godwin sitting in space all day for 12 receptions for 172 yards and two touchdowns. The Rams did a fine job in run defense clamping down on RB Ronald Jones II, but the passing game undid the Rams’ defense on the day.

One thing we can clearly say was that yesterday was an absolute anomaly for 2019 in several ways. From the defensive breakdown to five carries for Gurley to 68 passing attempts for Goff, many of the outputs for this game were pushed to an extreme. That should help assuage some of the concerns Rams fans are having today.

Standings

For the first time in the Sean McVay era, the Los Angeles Rams are not in first place in the NFC West.

No need to panic, but this highlights how big Thursday’s Rams-Seahawks game is.

The NFC West is the only division in football with nine wins from its top three teams. The only division that has more overall is the NFC North with 10. Tonight’s Monday Night Football matchup between the Pittsburgh Steelers and Cincinnati Bengals won’t change that either.

Still too early to have any concrete takeaways (other than the Arizona Cardinals and Washington Frequent Game Losers being not good), but seeing the San Francisco 49ers atop these standings makes me quite uncomfortable.