That’s one in the can for the 2019 Los Angeles Rams.
This game was a Déjà Vu of last year’s opener against the Oakland Raiders. The first half was almost a preseason game for the Rams who struggled to get anything going and were obviously shaking the rust of from the offseason. This makes sense. With no live, full-bore opportunities prior to game one, this is going to be the new normal for the Rams and more than likely across the league as more teams opt to keep their starters out of the preseason.
Sloppy Game One’s are our future, get used to it.
The other question going into this game was “Hey, what’s up with Todd Gurley’s Knee?” or the Patella Novella. I think we all expected the Rams’ number one RB would be extremely involved in the game since HC Sean McVay said that there was not going to be a snap count on Gurley. That was not the case. Save for a couple good runs Gurley, was practically invisible when he was on the field for the first three quarters of the game. Jared Goff noticeably didn’t even look in Gurley’s direction during most if any of the pass plays he was involved in. Malcolm Brown had all the glory during those three quarters.
Come the fourth quarter, that’s when Gurley was finally unleashed. Seriously. He played for 1/4th the game and still got 97 yards on the day. One quarter and he almost breaks 100 yards. What is that? We’ll have to wait to see what happens next week against the New Orleans Saints, but if I had to guess, the plan seems to be to wear down the defense and defensive line with Brown sprinkling in some Gurley to keep things interesting during the first half at least of the game, and then unleash a fully rested Gurley on a tired defense in the latter part of the game.
Next, Goff. Oh Jared. There were plenty of plays that made me scream at my television. At least a couple where Cooper Kupp was open but was not seen by Jared who seemed to have pre-determined where the ball was going, throwing an interception while trying to force it to Robert Woods. It’s hard for me to look at Jared objectively. He has an ability to move on from setbacks almost immediately, which is good, but I don’t think he’s as good as some people make him out to be. The Rams obviously disagree with me, but I don’t think he’s more than average.
The defense had faltered at times, but really, they saved the game for us. Granted, a lot of it was the Carolina Panthers not knowing up from down on some plays, like Clay Matthews’ first sack of the season, but they still made some good plays that kept the Rams ahead.
Special Teams had an interesting day. Johnny Hekker had a blocked put for the first time in 5 seasons (honestly, I didn’t know he’d been blocked before), GZ missed a field goal, and the unit had a couple damaging penalties. What’s up with that? Usually ST is the most reliably great part of the Rams.
A win is a win however no matter how sloppy. Hopefully McVay and the Rams can fix whatever was happening today and bring it all to the Saints next week, because they have something to prove after the loss in the NFC Championship game last season, and they aren’t going to go easy. They’re out for blood and aren’t going to let anything, not a Rams home crowed at the Coliseum, not bend but don’t break defense, and not a rusty offense, stop them from proving that they should have been the NFC Representatives to the Super Bowl last year.
McVay and Co. are going to need all the tricks they have.