Entering 2022, it seemed likely that the Rams would continue their streak of consecutive winning seasons, which stood at 5 after their Super Bowl title. Instead, it now appears almost certain that the Rams will finish with a losing record, snapping the streak and preventing the team from chasing the run of 8 straight winning seasons the Rams had from 1973 through 1980.
It is hard to believe we've gotten to such a low point so quickly. The Rams don't just only have 3 wins so far this season, they legitimately have looked like a 3 win team. How can a team with so much talent on paper play such lousy football all year long? The Rams (who were 3rd in ESPN's preseason power rankings) have exactly the same number of wins as the following clubs (their ESPN preseason rankings in parentheses): Jaguars (27th), Steelers (22nd), Lions(26th), Bears(25th), Panthers(29th) and Saints(20th). If the Rams were supposed to be Mike Tyson, then the 2022 season has been Buster Douglas.
With Cooper Kupp presumably done for the rest of the season, any hopes for a miracle comeback this year seem to be finished. It would take the most die hard, true believing, delusional Rams fan to still cling to hope in the darkest of hours.
Fortunately, while the Rams won't be in the playoffs this year, they did make a bowl game. When the Saints play the Rams this week, it could be the Toilet Bowl of the NFL season. As terrible as the Rams have been, including along the OL, the tough luck Saints have had it at least as bad. Both Saints and Rams fans might show up to the game wearing paper bags over their heads.
Lambs vs the Aints
Due to a series of injuries, this was the OL lineup for the Saints by the 2nd half of their game against the Steelers:
Landon Young (left tackle), 32.7 PFF
Lewis Kidd (LG) 28.7 PFF rotating with Calvin Throckmorton 29.8 PFF
Josh Andrews (center) 47.4 PFF, just pulled up from the practice squad
Cesar Ruiz (RG), 58.9 PFF (47th out of 82 guards)
Ryan Ramczyk (RT), 78.3 PFF, the last remaining stud from a unit that once was the best OL in the NFL.
In other words, the Saints had one good lineman, former 1st round pick Ruiz who has played like a bust, then a bunch of random UDFA and late round draft picks who should only be practice squad level or back end of the roster type players.
Rookie 1st round pick, Trevor Penning, has yet to return from IR. He was supposed to compete for the starting LT job, but tore ligaments in his foot during a preseason game. The Saints could bring him back this year, but it doesn't sound like he's ready yet, so likely won't be against the Rams. Seemingly always injured Andrus Peat (47.6 PFF grade) had a pec injury, then he injured his triceps, and didn't play last game out. Erik McCoy (66.1 PFF) just went on IR with a calf injury, causing the Saints to pull Andrews up from the PS to play center. James Hurst (67.8 PFF), the LT, suffered a concussion in the 2nd half against the Steelers and had to exit the game.
The Saints are 9th in run block win rate and 13th in pass block win rate, so despite all their injuries they still come out relatively solid in the ESPN metrics. Ramczyk has the 4th best run block win rate among OTs and is the 13th best OL per SIS Datahub point rankings.
We searched far and wide and finally found the qualifying NFL guard ranked lower than Bobby Evans. It is Throckmorton, dead last as the 82nd ranked guard. The other guy, Kidd, has an even lower grade, but he hasn't played enough snaps to qualify for the rankings.
The Saints aren't strong defensively, so if the anemic Rams offense are ever going to get anything going, this would be a good week to start. The Saints are 31st in pass rush win rate and 24th in run stop win rate.
Injuries to their CBs have hampered their defense. Marshaon Lattimore (52.2 PFF, ranking 93rd out of 115 CBs) was hurt in week 5 and has been inactive. Bradley Roby (49.4 PFF, 98th CB), got hurt week 7 and went on IR. Paulson Adebo (35.7 PFF, 113th out of 115 CBs) has been hampered by lingering injuries all season, a disappointing year for the 2021 third round pick.
Alontae Taylor is a 2nd round rookie. He went on IR early in the season and recently returned to the lineup, forced into a bigger role as the other CBs got hurt. A physical hitter, Taylor has made some big tackles, but he also has committed penalties and has a 42.6 PFF grade, ranking as the 111th out of 115 CBs. Not good when one team has so many former early round picks all ranking among the worst CBs in the NFL.
Linebacker Pete Werner (67.7 PFF) injured his ankle a couple weeks ago and didn't play against the Steelers. Worth monitoring the injury reports to see if he can return to action against the Rams or if he'll be out again.
The Saints are vulnerable on defense, but I don't know if the Rams have enough firepower on offense to take advantage now that Cooper Kupp is injured.
In the Cardinals game, I thought that Cam Akers multiple times ruined runs with poor vision. Overall, I thought that John Wolford was solid, but he had so many poor plays in the 4th quarter, it psychologically makes it seem like he played worse than he actually performed.
Ty Nsekhe 61.6 PFF; Alaric Jackson 64.1 PFF; J. Noteboom 67.0 PFF (IR)
Coleman Shelton 50.0 PFF; Bobby Evans 33.3 PFF; David Edwards 58.2 PFF (IR)
Brian Allen 64.5 PFF (18th out of 37 centers); Matt Skura; J. Kolone 36.1 PFF (PS)
Chandler Brewer 66.6 PFF; Oday Aboushi 56.6 PFF; Logan Bruss (IR)
Rob Havenstein 68.4 PFF (32nd out of 80 OTs)
Things are already bad, but if the Rams don't get this one, things could get pretty ugly with the Chiefs looming next. Can McVay keep the team together or will the players at some point throw in the towel and stop trying?