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The Good, the Bad and the Difference

Another imperfect day but also another win

NFL: New York Giants at Los Angeles Rams Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports

Sean McVay warned us that the Rams might struggle to move the ball against the Giants this week and he was proven correct. Few people predicted that Los Angeles would only score 17 points, their lowest output of the season, against a team that is now 0-4 but McVay had a good idea of what his offense does well and what New York’s defense does well and because of that the game went down to the final minute.

But it was because of what people expected the Giants offense to do on Sunday that the Rams ultimately go into Week 5 with a 3-1 record.

Not only did the Giants rank 32nd in points and yards coming into the game, but even the three touchdowns that they have scored this season have seemed to require every ounce of “gumption” from the offense to tumble down the field for six points each time. Against LA’s defense, having to handle a front seven that orbits around Aaron Donald and a secondary that begins with Jalen Ramsey, New York failed to score a touchdown on any of their 10 drives.

In fact, the Giants haven’t scored a touchdown since a 4th-and-goal from the 1 by Dion Lewis with 14:22 remaining in Week 2. That’s 20 straight drives without a touchdown.

Against opponents who have been playing as poorly as New York, it can be hard to gauge the defensive success and how that is meant to translate against some of the better offenses, such as the Bills in Week 3. Or potentially most of their second half schedule.

What’s important is that the Rams got a win and they’ll keep pace with the 4-0 Seahawks and move ahead of the 2-2 Cardinals and 49ers.

The Good

Darious Williams can’t take Daniel Jones “having his moment” anymore

The Giants are now 3-13 with Daniel Jones as the starter and as I’ll get to later, he can’t only blame his supporting cast and coaches for the mistakes and New York’s general lack of offensive threat in the last two years. Now here he is on the road against a conference opponent that has been much better than the Giants over the last few years and there’s an opportunity to score a touchdown and potentially tie the game with a two-point conversion.

I don’t think one play would have erased what Jones had done and undone over the previous 59 minutes of game time but these are typically the moments we judge quarterbacks on. We know that the Giants already have a Judge, empty SoFi Stadium was the jury and Darious Williams played the part of executioner.

Williams now has four interceptions over his last six games, dating back to last season. A secondary of Jalen Ramsey, John Johnson, Jordan Fuller, Williams and Troy Hill could be among the best in the NFL this season when all are healthy.

Cooper Kupp makes it interesting by making it a little less interesting

It’s bewildering how many objects there are in the universe that we know of but what’s more staggering is the vast space between them. This game had a lot of vast space and then Cooper Kupp defied gravity with his vertical on a high pass and then used Giants cornerback James Bradberry’s own orbit to fling past him for a 55-yard ... touch down.

New York’s defense was playing out of their world until this play and that’s all it took.

“It was frustrating when we gave that deep touchdown pass to Coop and I wasn’t able to get him on the ground,” Giants cornerback James Bradberry said. “I was frustrated with that. There are going to be points in the game where you’re frustrated, but you have to keep going on.”

Rams devastate New York City

Former Rams pass rusher Deacon Jones coined the term “sack” when he said: “Sacking a quarterback is just like you devastate a city or you cream a multitude of people. I mean it’s just like you put all the offensive players in one bad and I just take a baseball bat and beat on the bag.”

LA entered the game with only four sacks by players who weren’t Aaron Donald and a multitude of Rams were able to do the devastating on Sunday.

Jalen Ramsey / Ogbonnia Okoronkwo

Michael Brockers

Morgan Fox sack / fumble

Justin Hollins

In the first half, Giants quarterback Daniel Jones was held to 8 of 13 passing, 48 yards and was sacked four times. Even against New York, 22 net passing yards in a half is still an accomplishment.

Morgan Fox now has a sack in each of the last two games, putting him one shy of a new career high already. It was Justin Hollins first sack with the Rams and he could see a continued increase in playing time. Samson Ebukam and Donald also took part in a partial sack, which is still an odd stat to keep, because most sacks are a result of multiple people doing their jobs well.

Michael Brockers was basically not on the Rams at one point and that would not have been so good it turns out.

Troy Hill two passes defensed, tackle for loss

Hill’s impact in the games may not always be seen on the box score, good or bad, but he does have obvious choice moments each week.

Sean McVay / Gerald Everett rushing touchdown

It’s not easy for every team to pick up two yards at the goal line but I don’t sweat it with McVay. I’m not sure how “exciting” of a moment this is for Everett, who finished the game with one catch for 10 yards, because it really seems as though the play is the showcase here.

The Bad

Gerald Everett fumble

There was a Gerald Everett last season that caught 28 of 49 targets for 322 yards over a six games span. Then Tyler Higbee took his opportunity to start when Everett was injured and ran with it and Everett is relegated to backup duties. Which entering the season, we didn’t even really know what that would mean at the tight end position. Could they both see targets?

It turns out that the answer is no, Everett has now been targeted six times in his last six games.

Almost all of the offense except what was mentioned in “The Good”

Jared Goff at halftime: 13 of 16, 89 yards, two sacks

Cooper Kupp, Robert Woods, Tyler Higbee and Van Jefferson at halftime: 5 catches on 8 targets for 26 yards

Goff in the third quarter - 5 of 7, 23 yards

The 55 yards to Kupp was more than a quarter of his total yards on the day and Goff attempted 32 passes. This is not to put it on Goff or any one individual, I don’t think it is fair to discredit New York’s defense to that degree because they seemed to have done a better job than at least the last two opponents, but merely a fact that Sunday was a reminder of the offense’s low point in 2019; a three-week stretch against the Steelers, Bears and Ravens in which the Rams scored 35 points and Goff threw five interceptions without a touchdown. Goff may have actually thrown an interception, albeit funky, had it not been overturned on an unusually ambiguous review change.

This game against the Giants was not as bad as any of those but prior to Kupp’s 55-yard touchdown it was getting close.

Taylor Rapp missed tackle on Evan Engram

On third-and-three, Rapp could have prevented a first down by even pushing Engram to the sidelines but he missed and Engram gained 12, putting the Giants in Rams territory. They ended up punting but these are not the moments that Rapp wants to be highlighted for as the defense awaits the return of Jordan Fuller from a shoulder injury.

Micah Kiser injury

It could also be that New York was only able to get something going offensively late in the game because LA was without Kiser by that point. Kenny Young and Troy Reeder each had three tackles, Kiser finished with six. He was the only reported injury for the Rams.

The run game

We can’t only focus on the passing game as a reason for LA’s lack of success offensively. The rushing game not getting going was probably the main thing giving McVay “pain” last week.

Malcolm Brown had nine carries for 37 yards and Darrell Henderson had eight for 22. All added up, only 58 yards on 23 carries for the Rams and the jet sweep was going nowhere either. Even against the Cowboys, when LA had 20 points, they rushed for 153 yards. Whether or not Cam Akers is healthy next week against Football Team, and if he can have an impact if so, will be a question many will monitor over the coming days.

Quick 3-and-out before 2 minute warning

Perhaps the worst series of the day for McVay came late in the game, after the Giants had surrendered the ball back to the Rams on downs. There was 2:33 remaining.

Henderson gained one yard and the Giants called a timeout with 2:28 remaining.

Kupp took a handoff for a loss of two out of bounds. 2:22 remaining.

Brown gained two yards and the Giants called a time out with 2:18 remaining.

LA used up :28 seconds of clock and New York still had a timeout and the two-minute warning. The Rams had a lot of short drives this week but none came at a worse time than this one and McVay will need to find better ways to run down time with the lead.

The Difference

Daniel Jones vs Rams pass defense

I have nothing against Daniel Jones. No stake in his downfall. And New York’s not putting him in chances to succeed. But from Sunday’s game it was difficult to find reasons for optimism with regards to the near future of Jones, given what everybody has seen in his first 16 starts. The Giants are now 3-13 with him as the starter and two of those wins came against 3-13 Washington last season, while the other was a thriller against the 7-9 Bucs that Tampa lost on missed 34-yard field goal attempt.

No starter has experienced more losing since the start of 2019 than Jones has in that time. It’s hard to not see his part in that, including against the Rams this week.

As harsh as that may sound for a quarterback in his second season, Lamar Jackson, Patrick Mahomes, Deshaun Watson, Josh Allen and even Gardner Minshew have recently proven that there is a higher standard for young quarterbacks today. It’s not that Jones is below that bar, it’s that he’s too far below it to expect him to elevate his supporting cast this season.

Three touchdowns in four games.

Against what the Rams have to offer in pass defense, it is not surprising that the Giants settled for three field goals. Or that even if Jones came close, he was never actually that close.

The Rams look to improve to 4-1 at Washington Football Team next week.