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The Good, the Bad and the Difference

More ‘bad’ than good or difference

Los Angeles Rams v Miami Dolphins Photo by Mark Brown/Getty Images

Perhaps what is most surprising is that if Kai Forbath makes the field goal, the LA Rams would have been down one possession with the ball to end the game. Despite the worst performance of the season for the coaches, the offense, and the special teams, the Rams were alive because of their defense.

Even keeping the Dolphins to 145 yards and forcing two turnovers, it was not enough defense. Few defenses could have been enough defense. Miami had enough defense on Sunday to lift their offense, but they also got a lot of help from Jared Goff and Sean McVay.

The Rams lost to the Dolphins 28-17 this week and they have questions to consider during their bye week. The most important of which may focus on Goff’s accuracy and decision making.

Other questions may come from the good, the bad and the difference.

The Good

Aaron Donald’s immediate strip fumble on Tua Tagovailoa

If all Tua knew going into the day was that his first dropback would result in a lost fumble — and that he’d finish the day with 93 yards on 22 attempts — I can’t imagine he would have expected to be cruising in the fourth quarter. Brian Flores didn’t need to turn to his quarterback this week, his defense and special teams units were doing the work. And even his defense had several huge missed opportunities.

Robert Woods fly motion touchdown

You can give the ball to a running back 10, 15, 20, 30 times per game and that’s not objectionable. The Rams can only hand the ball to Woods about three or four times per game. He got the ball on the ground only twice on Sunday but took this one in for an easy touchdown to give LA an early 7-0 lead.

Taylor Rapp forced fumble, Troy Hill assist and recovery

It seemed like the game could be a wild back and forth one with many exciting mistakes and forced opportunities, such as this smack by Rapp to force the ball loose. Hill picked it up and continues his strong play of late.

Defensive Dominance

The Miami Dolphins didn’t have a drive that went longer than 33 yards. They gained 145 yards and won. It’s the third time since 1981 that the Rams have held an opponent to under 150 yards and lost the game.

LA also managed to do this without their second-best player as Jalen Ramsey was taken out of the game with an illness.

Fourth quarter passing

It was better than the first three quarters and this drive was LA’s best of the day. The Rams went 89 yards in 10 plays and scored on a touchdown throw to Woods. Robert Woods had seven catches for 85 yards, his highest total since Week 1.

Cooper Kupp’s first 100-yard game of the season

Kupp was targeted a career-high 21 times, catching 11 passes for 110 yards. It’s the most yards that Kupp has had since his 220 against the Bengals last October, a period of 16 games, but it did take 21 targets to get there and many receptions came after the Rams were trailing by three touchdowns.

Kupp’s 21 targets were the most by an NFL player since DeAndre Hopkins, Antonio Brown and Davante Adams had that many or more during the 2015 season. Even in the most modern version of the game, 21 targets is a lot.

Teams that have had to target one player 21 or more times are a combined 7-13-1. Not necessarily a good sign when that happens.

The Bad

Jared Goff’s new “worst throw of the season” throw

What has changed for Goff? Is it the schedule?

Over the first five games, Goff was mostly the quarterback who the Rams need him to be in order to be 4-1, as they were at the time. LA was almost 5-0 with Goff leading a comeback against the Bills that the defense couldn’t hang onto. Where did that quarterback go?

The Goff who was avoiding poor decisions and bad throws abruptly disappeared against the 49ers three games ago and his numbers have taken this dip (first five games) to (last three games):

  • 9 yards per attempt to 5.1 yards per attempt
  • 71.7% completions to 58.3% completions
  • One fumble, no lost to three fumbles, two lost
  • 4-1 to 1-2 (19 points per game)

Jared Goff sack, fumble, touchdown

From potentially taking a 14-7 lead to being down 14-7 instead.

Jakeem Grant makes it 21-7

And now being down 21-7.

Jared Goff’s even newer “new worst throw of the season” throw

Goff would throw picks like this because he was afraid of taking a sack. Of taking a sack. The good Jared Goff would take a sack and not panic. This is the Goff that panicked and threw the ball to a Dolphins defensive player because he didn’t want to take a sack.

I can barely keep up with the Goff turnovers

I keep notes during the game obviously and I was still recording his last turnover before the next one would happen.

Jalen Ramsey out

It didn’t have an impact on the final outcome and Ramsey would seem likely to return by Week 10 if he was only feeling under the weather.

Cooper Kupp’s drop on third and 4

Kupp was targeted 21 times but in the first quarter he dropped an easy third down pass that would have kept an early drive alive. I was taking this note early in the game obviously because the Rams had much bigger issues than a Kupp drop. However, I would think that numbers like EPA and DVOA won’t have great things to say about Kupp’s day despite how often Goff looked his way. It seemed like he ran out of other choices and that sort of limited offense won’t get far against a Miami team ranked third in points allowed.

When you have more than 3x as many yards and trail by 18 points

Turnover on Downs

After it appeared that the Rams were about to score on a throw to Kupp, Woods was called for holding and the play was pushed back to midfield. Two plays later, Goff should have been picked off by Eric Rowe, but he dropped it, and then two plays after that it was a turnover on downs.

LA’s offense had been one of the most efficient in the league but it was inept on Sunday.

Kai Forbath’s not any better than Sam Sloman

I thought Forbath’s second PAT attempt was poor looking and then he missed from 48 yards when the Rams were trying to cut it to a one-score game in the fourth quarter. McVay cut Sam Sloman this week. How much time will Forbath get?

The Difference

Goff is off. His three worst games of the season are the last three games. Is that a good sign? Does it mean that he’s gotten his shaky starts out of the way and he’s ready to play like a franchise quarterback over the difficult stretch in front of him? (Seahawks, Bucs, 49ers, Cardinals.) Or is it the worst sign? That he played well against the NFC East and now the rest of the league is ready to NFC feast?

The Dolphins defense certainly loved the opportunity to eat.

I wouldn’t panic for Goff’s sake. I might instead worry that the replacements for Brandin Cooks and Todd Gurley are not present and the offense isn’t as explosive as it was in 2018.