Victory Monday feels sweeter this week after the Los Angeles Rams came away with a W against the Carolina Panthers with a 24-10 victory. After the beating from the Dallas Cowboys just a week ago, LA’s performance was uplifting. The Rams currently sit at 3-3 on the season thus far and have an opportunity to take over the NFC West with a victory over the San Francisco 49ers coming back from their bye week.
This is the Good, the Bad, and the Ugly Vol. 5, let’s see how it panned out for Los Angeles this week!
Rams make it to the Bye week at .500
Rams 3-3 and head into their bye week. They can get healthy and do some self-reflection. Arguably biggest game of the season following the bye at home against SF.— Blaine Grisak (@bgrisakDTR) October 16, 2022
The early bye week could not have come at a better time with a number of players set to come back from injury and ready to play for the division lead against the San Francisco 49ers in Week 8. The offense should look completely different with Van Jefferson back on the field and possibly the healthiest O-line the Rams have had since Week 1.
Ernest Jones continues to make plays
Jones continues to show why the Rams were so excited to draft him just a year ago. He finished the game with a batted-down pass, five tackles, and caused the interception in the end zone in the fourth quarter. With the Ram’s defense so top-heavy with Jalen Ramsey and Aaron Donald on the payroll, Jones’ will be vital to their success.
Rams defense holds Carolina to a field goal
The Panthers looked ready to compete as they slammed the ball into the Ram’s defensive with a mix of runs and passes to Christian McCaffrey. Phillip Walker and his offense took 6:22 off the clock on a 13-play drive but an illegal block de-railed Carolina’s momentum and they settled for a field goal.
The opening act for the Panther’s offense turned into a disappearing act as LA’s defense stepped up in a big way. Carolina ended up punting it seven times and entering the middle of the fourth quarter only had 16 yards in the second half. Sure, the performance was not anything to write home about with only two sacks (one of which came from a shoe-string tackle by Marquise Copeland and the other from Jalen Ramsey) but a last minute interception from Nick Scott put the game away.
The defense has been the one bright spot for Los Angeles this season and have consistently put their offense in a position to win games. This time Stafford and company were able to do just enough to get the win.
Brandon Powell is the X-factor
With all the injuries and struggles the offense has faced this season, Powell has begun to carve himself a Tony Pollard-like role on the unit. On Sunday, the electric kick returner proved he was more than just a special-teamer with four receptions that went for 27 yards and three rushes that turned into 13 yards.
Those statistics aren’t jumping out off the page, but they are proof that Sean McVay’s offense is beginning to transition into an identity. Powell adds a dimension to the offense that Tutu Atwell was drafted to provide. His speed is a great change-of-pace for the backfield and it nearly burned the Panthers in the receiving game as well. If LA’s offensive line can figure out how to buy Stafford time we may soon see exactly what Powell can do for this offense.
Stafford uses all of his receivers
The Allen Robinson experience has taken a turn for the better after having his best game in a Rams uniform against Carolina. He finished the game with five receptions, 63 yards, and Stafford’s lone touchdown of the night. The best aspects of Robinson’s game was on full display with incredible acrobatic receptions.
But the Rams offense was much more than that. Cooper Kupp was his usual self but was only targeted eight times to Robinson’s six. Both Ben Skowronek and Powell finished with five targets apiece making this one of the most diverse outings we have seen from LA’s offense this season.
Los Angeles not only saw seven different players carry the ball on Sunday, but they also saw seven different receivers catch a ball through the air. It was not perfect by any means, but LA is finally finding its identity. With Jefferson coming back next week and the possibility of getting Odell Beckham Jr. back still on the plate, we are just beginning to see what this offense is capable of.
Face mask calls
One of the ugliest no-calls in the Super Bowl last year was when Jalen Ramsey’s face mask was pulled down while in coverage of Tee Higgins and the Cincinnati Bengal took it to the house. Eight months later the no-call seems to have continued to haunt LA. Deep into the Panther’s territory Stafford fired a pass to Allen Robinson for what would have been his second touchdown of the game, but instead the ball fell to the turf.
Allen Robinson clearly had his facemask yanked on this play. Balls in the air. Facemask? Hands to the face? Pass interference? None called. pic.twitter.com/EwsaCbcTdX— (@TL_LARams) October 16, 2022
A closer examination shows Keith Taylor Jr. of the Panthers clearly grabbing Robinson’s face mask making the catch impossible. Referee mistakes a a part of the game, but this one could have had a huge impact on the game and was just as clear as the one against the Ramsey in the Super Bowl.
Darrell Henderson was arguably the best back on the roster when Cam Akers was in the lineup and with Akers inactive on Sunday it was not even close, yet Henderson still found himself sharing the backfield with his teammates. He finished the game with 12 carries for 43 yards and put the game away with a hard-earned touchdown at the goal line, but McVay also utilized six other ball carriers in the game.
That included a handoff to newly signed rookie Ronnie Rivers on 2nd-and-1 that went nowhere followed by a Malcom Brown run on 3rd-and-1 that failed to convert. In such a pivotal moment in the game it is a bit of a head-scratcher that McVay did not feed the hot-hand and allow Henderson to gain the yard. Is it a matter of trust? Is there some bad blood between the two? Whatever the case is, unless LA makes a trade before the deadline, Henderson is the lead back and should get his fair opportunity of carries going forward.
Crowd fills SoFi Stadium with “boos” after bad first half
Just like most of the season thus far, the Rams first half play did not live to the lofty expectations set up by their Super Bowl victory just a season ago and the fans at SoFi made sure it was known. Going into the locker rooms a very audible “boo” filled the stadium at halftime and was likely heard through most of the Inglewood community.
By the end of regulation the feelings had changed, but maybe hearing the disappointment from fans is exactly what the team needed.
Stafford’s pick six
Behind every gunslinger in the NFL is a treasure trove of interceptions and unfortunately sometimes you just have to live with that fact — but Stafford has been particularly bad at keeping the ball out of the hands of the other team in recent weeks. He currently leads the NFL in interceptions and added another pick-six to his resume against the Panthers.
This week’s pick was exceptionally ill-timed. LA had the ball right before the half with a chance to put the game out of reach early, especially with them getting the ball back to start the third. It wasn’t that it was just a bad throw either, it was a bad decision. Los Angeles came out on top this week thanks to an elite performance from its defense, but against better teams they will likely not prevail.
Another injury to the O-line
The injuries continue to pile up for the Rams offensive line with newest being Joe Noteboom’s potential season-ending injury. With some help coming back after the bye week and the trade deadline approaching quickly, there is hope that LA can find some help. If they can’t, it will be interesting to see how McVay continues to adapt his offense to ensure Stafford stays upright.
No real update from McVay on Joe Noteboom but he is worried it may be an Achilles.— Jourdan Rodrigue (@JourdanRodrigue) October 16, 2022
What were your thought in Week 6? Let me know in the comments below!