The Los Angeles Rams absolutely crushed the New York Giants in a 38-11 victory on Sunday putting them at 5-1 for the season. Thought the Giants had a number of injuries that kept key players on the sideline LA’s defense had their defining game of the season with three turnovers that set the offense up with optimal field position. Taylor Rapp was sensational with two picks and rookie Robert Rochell had his first of his NFL career while the defensive line absolutely dominated the trenches.
Here are some other things we learned after Sunday’s matchup.
This is not a team that plans on playing down to their competition
The last time that Los Angeles played New York it was a defensive contest that did not yield many offensive highlights. What was on display was Darious William’s ball hawking skills when Daniel Jones and company were marching down the field for a score that might tie the game with a two-point conversion. The Rams won 17-9 but it was an ugly game that many believed going into it should have been a blowout win.
Then in Week 15 of that same year the Rams played the New York Jets who came into SoFi stadium with a 1-13 record and a dream of procuring the first overall pick of the 2021 draft. Unlike the Giants game in the same year LA could not come up with the big play to seal away a victory and instead suffered arguably one of the biggest upsets in recent memories when they lost 20-23.
One of the most worrisome attributes of the Jared Goff led Rams was their tendency to play down to the level of competition they were facing. They would fall victim to the “trap” games often time playing sloppy turnover-prone football that was not the McVay way. It may have been one of the biggest reasons that Les Snead and McVay decided it was time to call it quits with the quarterback who took them to a Super Bowl and acquire Matthew Stafford this offseason.
In the first quarter of Sunday’s game it may have appeared that history would repeat itself and it was going to be a long day against a Giants team riddled with injuries and offseason issues. After a near strip sack on the first play of the game the Giants bounced back. Kadarius Toney looked uncoverable as Jones found the rookie wide receiver three times for 37 yards on the first drive. With some help from Rams penalties the Giants marched into the red zone looking for six but would only walk away with three after LA’s defense finally found its footing and forced the field goal.
The rest of the quarter saw little action as the Rams offense could not get anything going. Stafford’s two sacks were a momentum-killer and led to two Johnny Hekker punts. LA entered the second quarter without a single point on the board and suddenly memories of the Jets game from last year began to surface in the Rams failthful.
With Stafford at the helm of McVay’s offense it would appear playing down to the opponent is no longer an issue. After a slow first quarter that had little action the Rams played complementary football in the second. Their defense forced two turnovers that Stafford turned into two of the four total touchdowns of the quarter. The defense had Jones running for his life as they found penetration on what seemed nearly every play and the offense began to cook.
On Sunday’s game the Rams did not do anything special. They beat possibly the second worst football team in the NFL. What they did do was show that they are grown from the years of playing down to lesser competition.
DeSean Jackson has a very specific niche in the Rams offense
Jackson saw little action on Sunday. He finished the game with one reception for six yards and did not see any long pass attempts come his way.
That might not be a bad thing.
It is well known that Jackson has had problems staying healthy the last couple years and at his age is no longer an every-down receiver in the NFL. He is still one of the greatest deep threats in football and possesses ageless speed that makes him hard to cover. McVay’s usage of Jackson, or the lack-there-of, may be an attempt to keep his speedy veteran healthy for meaningful games come January.
Against the Giants he also was not needed. LA’s offense moved the ball with ease after their slow start. In the fourth quarter they put on the brakes and subbed out starters with backups to get a head start on the recovery process.
DeSean Jackson hauls this pass in and sets up a Rams TD.— MyBookie NFL (@MyBookie_NFL) October 8, 2021
Rams up 9-7 in the 3rdQ pic.twitter.com/oAg7g675Du
Jackson is used as a spark. He will get his opportunities situationally when the Rams are in need to score quickly or the defense gives McVay an opportunity he likes. Though Jackson may not see much action in the first half of the season, he will likely see more as the games become more meaningful.
The expectation is perfection
McVay’s team turned around a first quarter dud into a second quarter scoring fiasco that put his team into a comfortable 28-3 lead before the half. With just under a minute left Stafford found Darrell Henderson on a beautiful sideline pass that went for six. Following the score Jones was intercepted by Robert Rochell on the first play of the Giants drive giving LA’s offense another chance at putting points on the board in optimal field position.
On the first play with 00:17 left in the half Stafford’s pass to Kupp went through the receivers hands and into the Xavier McKinney’s arms.
Despite heading into the locker room with a 25 point lead McVay was obviously frustrated with his team’s performance. Following the interception by McKinney McVay grabbed his headset and spiked it into the ground before trotting off the field. Following the game the head coach had this to say about his team,
(00:17) “I think we could be a lot sharper offensively. We got to start faster, there is no excuse, we have to be better than that... I think the slow starts [are] not good enough. I’m not pleased with it... We just got to do a better job, I got to do a better job and today was a great job by our defense getting us in position to be able to score points as a team but we got to be better.”
McVay’s critical comments of his team has in itself shown just how much he has grown into his head coaching position and what Stafford has done for this team. In the past it seemed that the head coach took much of the team’s blame on his own shoulders and strayed away from shedding any negative light on his team. This year the coach and quarterback are on the same page and both know the expectations they have created themselves. They expect perfection. Anything less is unacceptable.
Darrell Henderson can be the workhorse of the offense
After Cam Akers went down with a season-ending injury there were obvious questions at the running back position. Henderson was thrusted into the starting roll with little experience to back him up in the case he was injured. Despite all the confidence McVay showed towards Henderson Snead landed Sony Michel on the roster in a trade with the New England Patriots late into the offseason.
With the acquisition of Michel the instance reaction was that the Rams would utilize a run-by-committee strategy much like they did last season before Akers took on the lead role. There were even some speculation the former first round draft pick would take over as the number one back on the Rams offense once he got up to speed.
If Sunday told us anything it is that Henderson is firmly placed as the number one back in the Rams offense. Henderson finished the game with 21 carries while Michel only carried the ball nine times. Though Henderson did not reach over the 100-yard mark he did finish the game with two touchdowns. His second of the day showcased his receiving ability when he put a double move on his defender and ended up with space that was good for six. Henderson is the clear plan at running back while Michel is the insurance if he goes down for an extended period.
What did you learn during Week 6? Let me know in the comments below!