Every day this season, the L.A. Rams should have somebody in the organization go grab the Lombardi Trophy, polish it, walk it around the facility, make sure everyone gets to see and admire it for a moment, have it hold a press conference to mention that it still belongs to the Rams, and then put it back in its case for the night. Only to put on the same parade the following day, over and over again.
Something to remind everybody: “Hey, we won the Super Bowl!”
The way this season has gone so far, it would be easy to forget.
It’s one thing to win the Super Bowl and then to come down off of that high the next season, responding to the wake-up call that “nobody is a Super Bowl champion for very long.” The last repeat winner was the 2004 New England Patriots and few teams since then have even sniffed a chance at two-in-a-row. At 2-3, the Rams are far from out of it.
But without fixes and adjustments to play better than they have through five weeks, the L.A. Rams will be out of it.
The Rams ranked 32nd in yards per play, 31st in turnovers, 31st in yards per carry, 29th in EPA on offense, 30th in sack percentage allowed, 32nd in rushing yards, and by most accounts the defense has been merely average. Except by one measure: 31st in pressure rate for a defense that has no pass rushing threats other than Aaron Donald.
It’s Week 5 and Jalen Ramsey has more sacks than Leonard Floyd, Greg Gaines, and A’Shawn Robinson.
With the 1-4 Carolina Panthers on deck, fresh off of firing their head coach and putting their starting quarterback on the mend for a high ankle sprain, the Rams are getting an easy opportunity get right. Or at least, get a little more right. There’s practically nowhere to go but up in most stat categories for L.A., few teams that would be more giving than the Panthers.
The Rams haven’t played like a Super Bowl team once this season. It’s time for them to give us that reminder, without having to bother the trophy. Here are some advanced stats and analytics through Week 5.
Rams trenches - 31st in pass protection, 1st in run defense
All trench measures from ESPN and PFF.— Computer Cowboy (@benbbaldwin) October 11, 2022
The Vikings have an offensive line for once!
The Cowboys/Bills/Broncos have had great pass rush results.
What is going on with CLE's run defense pic.twitter.com/dThnE5FF4y
As expected, the Rams offensive line ranks 31st in pass protection by PFF grades and barely above average in Pass Rush Win Rate. Only the Miami Dolphins are behind them by PFF. And the Dolphins have placed two quarterbacks into the concussion protocol in the last two weeks.
The defensive pass rush is considered “average” by these metrics, while the run blocking is about average and the run defense is PFF’s highest-graded unit. However, it’s important to not talk about the run game without context: Do teams have to run against the Rams to beat them? When that was the case in Week 5, the Cowboys rushed for 163 yards. In Week 1, the Bills rushed for 121 yards. In general, it seems teams can run on the Rams when they want to, or at least, run well enough.
A couple of seasons ago, I mentioned Micah Kiser’s missed tackle rate and some people on Rams twitter were basically saying “Haha, this guy doesn’t know what he’s talking about, Micah is great.” Well, Kiser wasn’t playing for the Rams defense for much longer after that.
Well, here’s the next one: Nick Scott has missed 15% of his tackle opportunities. That’s too many missed tackles. Grant Haley, in a smaller sample size, has a 15% missed tackle rate. Terrell Lewis has an 18% missed tackle rate.
The Rams have two very awesome tacklers in Bobby Wagner and Ernest Jones. But the secondary and edges could be areas to exploit.
Rams rank 32nd out of 32 in early down passing offense
~~Week 5 statistics thread starts here~~— Computer Cowboy (@benbbaldwin) October 11, 2022
The worst passing offense on early downs is the...Rams? pic.twitter.com/5jsqHFzitM
A few seasons ago, the Rams and Chiefs squared off in a meeting of the two best offenses in the NFL, a game that L.A. won. Now they are on opposite ends of advanced passing stats and that’s after trading for Matthew Stafford.
On first-and-10, Stafford is 43-of-60 for 455 yards with no touchdowns and three interceptions, getting sacked six times. Stafford has thrown another three interceptions on second-and-7+. These plays are killing the Rams.
Matthew Stafford on lower tier of passers
Geno Smith (but also Jacoby Brissett) pic.twitter.com/r1uI7rXAzS— Computer Cowboy (@benbbaldwin) October 11, 2022
Another Stafford note: Here he is in the fourth quarter—44-of-62, 383 yards, 0 TD, 4 INT, 3.27 adjusted Y/A. When the team is in hurry up, Stafford has thrown no touchdowns and four interceptions. When Stafford is in shotgun, he’s thrown three touchdowns and six interceptions. When Stafford has more than 2.5 seconds to throw, he has no touchdowns and two interceptions.
By all measures, the Rams are a bottom-five passing offense. At best.
FootballOutsiders ranks Stafford 26th this week
PFF/EPA - Stafford below Justin Fields
Updated Grading and Efficiency for MNF (Mahomes and Carr) pic.twitter.com/CZpZwsC01t— Kevin Cole (@KevinColePFF) October 11, 2022
How do the Rams fix this? Better pass protection? Sure. Better receivers? Sure. A better game plan that doesn’t force 12 targets to Tyler Higbee? Yes. Better play by Stafford? 100%.
When there are this many problems, there are that many things that need to be fixed.
Rams couldn’t rush after 1st quarter
The Rams had -4 yards rushing over the final three quarters of the game. Cowboys locked it down.— Bobby Belt (@BobbyBeltTX) October 10, 2022
Another issue for the offense is obviously not being able to run the ball effectively. Cam Akers and Darrell Henderson have not proven to be backs who can withstand a mediocre or bad offensive line. The Rams drafted Akers out of Florida State when many said that he was playing behind the worst o-line in all of college. Is this just cosmic punishment for Akers?
Akers and Henderson have combined for one broken tackle on 99 touches. That’s not good.
Matthew Stafford advanced stat game log
Stafford’s intended air yards/attempt was 7.7 this week, the second-highest rate of his season but still well below his average in 2021. He achieved a season-low 19.1% first downs on his passing attempts.
Stafford had nine “bad throws,” tying his highest total of the season. The issue hasn’t been drops. But getting sacked 12 times in the last two weeks doesn’t help.
Stafford was pressured on a season-high 34% of his dropbacks.
Yards Per Play - 32nd
Yards per play this season:— LanceMcAlister (@LanceMcAlister) October 10, 2022
28. Carolina 4.86
29. Colts 4.85
30. Steelers 4.83
31. #Bengals 4.81
32. Rams 4.80
The Rams ranked dead last in yards per play at 4.8. Last season, the only teams who did worse than 4.8 were the Texans, Giants, and Panthers. All three have fired their head coaches from last season.
Individual CB stats
Throwing at Nick Scott: 10/15, 142 yards, 1 TD, 0 INT, 119.3 rating
Throwing at Jalen Ramsey: 16/25, 191 yards, 2 TD, 1 INT, 97.2 rating
Throwing at Derion Kendrick: 15/26, 211 yards, 1 TD, 0 INT, 96.8 rating
Throwing at Taylor Rapp: 8/10, 67 yards, 0 TD, 0 INT, 94.6 rating
Throwing at Grant Haley: 8/14, 59 yards, 0 TD, 0 INT, 67.3 rating
Two players missing from the Rams since Week 2: Troy Hill, David Long. Can this change anything?