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Rams drop to 3-8 as pressure mounts to be respectable again: 3 takeaways from Week 12

Bryce Perkins earned another chance to start as defense does its job

NFL: Los Angeles Rams at Kansas City Chiefs Denny Medley-USA TODAY Sports

The Los Angeles Rams fell on the road 26-10 to the Kansas City Chiefs on Sunday and in the midst of yet another loss, I’m feeling something I wasn’t expecting going into this one. I’m feeling relief that at least the Rams weren’t blown out.

The season is all but over, but Bryce Perkins held his own and in a contest against Patrick Mahomes, the score was kept close for a long time. Here are three takeaways from an admirable effort from the Rams.

Defense did all they could against a Super Bowl favorite

There was a time that I had hope in the 2022 Los Angeles Rams. Then the season started and then the Rams lost 31-10 in Week 1.

Going into this matchup with the Chiefs, I fully expected the Rams would look every bit the part of the 16-point underdog they were. Yet something happened that I wasn’t expecting: LA actually appeared competitive. They have their defense to thank for making the final score appear as respectable as possible.

The Chiefs ran 72 plays and gained 437 total yards, which is their seventh 400+ yard effort this season. So nothing new. Kansas City averaged 6.1 yards per play and gained 320 passing yards, but L.A. forced two turnovers including an interception by Nick Scott in the end zone that took points off of the board for the Chiefs and helped keep the game in reach.

Kansas City went 5-of-11 on third downs and the Rams gave the NFL’s probable MVP all that he could handle. Mahomes finished 27-of-42 for 320 yards with one touchdown and one interception, a passer rating of 85.4. Unfortunately, one issue for the Rams all season has been their edge rushers and giving Aaron Donald any help at all; Mahomes was not sacked all game long.

There were also questions again about whether or not Jalen Ramsey continues to be a shutdown number one cover corner worth $20 million per season. Travis Kelce scored a long touchdown against Ramsey but then again, nobody has scored touchdowns as well as Kelce has this season. Michael Hoecht played outside linebacker and appears to have the inside track on starting opposite of Leonard Floyd next week as Justin Hollins and Terrell Lewis have not delivered.

Derion Kendrick also had a crucial holding penalty but if it wasn’t for the hold, he’d likely have been beaten by Marquez Valdes-Scantling for a touchdown.

The defense has work left to do to improve, but given the conditions on Sunday of facing Mahomes in Kansas City, they gave the offense a chance to pull the upset.

LA should give Bryce Perkins another start

Should a quarterback who threw two interceptions and failed to move the ball until the fourth quarter get another start? Yeah, I believe he should.

With Matthew Stafford dealing with a strained neck and having already spent two recent visits to the concussion protocol, there’s uncertainty when he’ll return under center next week or at all this season.

The Rams are now 3-8. There’s absolutely no reason for them to risk Stafford’s health further in a lost campaign.

Insert Bryce Perkins who if you judged solely by the box score and some of his throws on the field, you’d be led to believing that John Wolford would’ve been a better option. He’s not. Perkins did all he could while making his first NFL start in a hostile environment given all the issues with the offense. Perkins finished 13-of-23 for 100 yards with a touchdown and two picks, rushing for 44 yards on nine carries.

Poise was definitely the key with Perkins. On his lone touchdown pass in the game, he stood firm in the pocket waiting for Van Jefferson’s route to develop.

He had his expected miscues as well, not shocking for a player making his regular season debut. On his first interception when he targeted Van Jefferson once more, Perkins’ timing was off and tossed an easy ball to the defense. As for his second, it was an unlucky play as the ball was tipped at the line and bounced into the arms of a waiting defender.

Still, there was enough there which is why I think he should remain the starter for another week at least. I only say this just for LA to evaluate his future within the organization. Perkins brings mobility to the position which hasn’t been seen in a Rams signal caller in quite some time and the Seahawks have one of the worst run defenses in the NFL. McVay could exploit that versatility and open up the playbook as Perkins becomes more comfortable in the offense.

Problem is that I’m not sure if Perkins will get more chances with LA. The second Stafford is available, the Rams will turn to him in a heartbeat. If the Rams quit kidding themselves, it might be wise to keep Perkins in as the front office might never know what they have if he doesn’t see the field more.

Tutu Atwell continues to show that he belongs in lineup

Atwell had two huge catches this season, including his first NFL touchdown in last week’s loss to the Saints. For his encore, Tutu wasn’t as impressive but caught both of his targets. He added two more receptions to his season total, one for a 15-yard gain, finishing with 23 receiving yards.

The second-year player out of Louisville was one of only three players on the team that had 20 or more receiving yards.

Despite the limited yards and targets, Tutu is trying to do what he can with the limited opportunities coming his way. Atwell was never going to perform like a star, not if he’s seeing less than 10 targets a game. The problem is that LA doesn’t really seem to know how to use him. They had been rolling him out as a gadget player when that was never his role in college.

The Chiefs game was the first time all season where Tutu wasn’t inserted solely as the deep threat. He finally got his first action as a “normal” wideout and he made the most of it given all the limitations in the passing game Sunday.

The Rams are still respectable on defense. Could a stronger showing against the Seahawks in Week 13 get them back into the win column?