Following a Week 6 victory over the Carolina Panthers, the Los Angeles Rams currently sit at .500 with a 3-3 record, a far cry from where most fans thought the “run it back” tour would take them. Obviously, the emotions of any fan base are impacted with each win or loss. The most recent SB Nation Reacts polls took a significant bump after beating the Panthers, with 46 percent of fans believing L.A. is on the right path.
With a handful of key players returning from injury, Los Angeles should be better after the much needed bye week, even with a tough stretch of games in the near future.
Asked Sean McVay who the Rams will get back after the bye. His response: C Brian Allen, WR Van Jefferson, CB Troy Hill, DL Bobby Brown and CB Cobie Durant. Jefferson has been out since camp but McVay says team expects he can contribute right away.— Jourdan Rodrigue (@JourdanRodrigue) October 17, 2022
The Rams have been bitten by the injury bug early and often this year, especially across the offensive line. Pro Bowl (alternate) center Brian Allen is expected to return in Week 8, just in time for the rival San Francisco 49ers. He is will be an obvious upgrade on the interior, providing stability and improving the communication across the front five.
I’m so desperate to share this clip of Brian Allen pancaking Vita Vea in pass pro that I went full boomer and literally recorded it on my phone.— Sosa Kremenjas (@QBsMVP) September 28, 2021
I’ve heard many OL gurus say: “pass pro doesn’t have to be passive”. I get it. pic.twitter.com/eRsGFNXQLM
Allen had some standout moments last season and there’s no reason to think he can’t do the same upon his return. With Alaric Jackson looking comfortable back at his natural position of left tackle, expect the o-line to be better than it was earlier in the season, though the bar honestly wasn’t set very high.
Van Jefferson is also expected to make his return following the Rams’ bye. He’s been under appreciated to an extent, with most expecting the offense not to skip a beat with him on the sidelines. That obviously hasn’t been the case.
Van Jefferson took a big leap of production in 2021. The 2nd year pro had over 800 yards & 6 TDs. His 4 plays of 40+ yards ranked 5th in the NFL and showed that the former 2nd round pick was a downfield threat. Don’t be surprised if Van takes another step in year 3. Hard worker! pic.twitter.com/APv76AQOWO— RAMS ON FILM (@RamsOnFilm) April 14, 2022
A “minor” knee surgery during training camp forced Jefferson to sit out the first six games of the year and Matthew Stafford has missed the third-year pro. Jefferson accounted for 802 receiving yards and six touchdowns in the 2021 regular season. Inserting that kind of production back into the lineup can only mean good things in the future, especially with Allen Robinson starting to find his way in the offense.
All things considered, the defense hasn’t played terrible this season. Yes, they need to play better on third down, going 30/75 and allowing teams to move the chains 40 percent of the time on that all important money down. In fairness, the Buffalo Bills going 9/10 on third down really inflated that number, with the Rams being successful on 68 percent of third downs against all other teams so far this year.
The Rams defense looks to boost those numbers with both Troy Hill and Cobie Durant returning to the secondary.
Former South Carolina State DB Decobie Durant (Rams) interception against the Falcons— HBCU Premier Sports (@HBCUSports1) September 19, 2022
* Durant also with QB sack, 1 tackle for loss and 1 pass breakuppic.twitter.com/bHxHMaQWlI
Both add playmaking ability and that all important versatility to the backend of the Los Angeles Rams defense. They should also help the Rams generate more turnovers, each already having an interception this year.
There is a silver lining to all of the injuries the Rams have fought through so far this year: L.A.’s depth got quality reps in regular season games. It’s unlikely that there would have been an emergence of Ben Skowronek—and the role of a “fullback” in the Sean McVay offense—had there not been a necessity for it.
Ben Skowronek ran this route to perfection pic.twitter.com/h0wxhH3qt5— LA Rams Nation (@RamsNationCP) October 16, 2022
Brandon Powell wouldn’t be getting the offensive reps if the offense was at full strength.
Brandon Powell may be one of the Rams’ smallest players, but he plays like he has no idea he is. He plays football like a pull-string firecracker, like he’s furious at the game for once leaving him behind.— Jourdan Rodrigue (@JourdanRodrigue) October 20, 2022
He’s making an outsized difference on this team: https://t.co/HgRZlTXNVf
He’ll likely continue to have a role on offense.
Rookie cornerback Derion Kendrick has likely locked up a starting role on defense, with his playing time increased due in part to injuries.
Things are looking up for the Rams and yes, they are heading in the right direction, though all of that optimism will be challenged as the Rams enter the toughest stretch of their schedule.
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