The Los Angeles Rams could not pull off the miracle and were taken down by the Kansas City Chiefs, 26-10. While the outcome felt as predictable as the sun rising tomorrow with a long list of injuries decimating LA’s offense, there was maybe just a sliver of hope the Rams might steal a win and that hope prevailed until the fourth quarter when two devastating interceptions put the game comfortably in the Chiefs’ court.
Just as we all had expected. What are L.A.’s other silver linings?
Bryce Perkins is the better option at backup QB
The first half of Perkins’ first NFL start will likely not be remembered for anything but a scrambled mess. Behind a makeshift offensive line the run game could not get going a part from a few good runs as Perkins had plenty of chances to show his athleticism as he ran for his life. He finished the first half of football with just three yards passing, the Rams punter had six. Halfway through the third quarter he finally began to get hot as he put together a methodical 75-yard touchdown drive where he found Van Jefferson on a crossing route for the score.
Perkins would go on to throw two killer interceptions late in the game. His first turnover was an ugly pass that he let sail on a route that he needed to throw earlier on, and his second was an unfortunate tipped pass. His stats were nothing special, but I would rather see him backing up Matthew Stafford than John Wolford. He is still raw and played without most of his weapons on offense, but with Stafford’s future with the team suddenly in question after suffering two concussions in three weeks LA needs to get prepared for what is next. Perkins showed a spark, who knows what he might be able to do behind a better offensive line and a receiving core not injury-riddled.
Special Teams have a dominant weekend
It truly has been a frustrating time for LA when the best unit on the football team on a Sunday is the Special Teams unit. The offense, to know one’s surprise, came out the gate with a quick three-and-out deep in their own territory to set up Riley’s Dixon’s first punt of the game. The punt quickly turned in favor of the Rams when Chiefs punt returner Skyy Moore biffed on the return and subsequently slammed hard by gunner Ben Skowronek allowing Robert Rochell to recover the fumble. The fumble marked just the second turnover recovery in the last eight games for LA.
With the offense still stalling late into the second quarter the Rams were desperate for a spark and found it in their punting squad. On fourth-and-5 Dixon took the direct snap and instead of bombing it away deep took the ball in his hands and fired a laser to Jacob Harris for the first down. Coincidently, Dixon would finish the first half as the teams leading passer with the fake.
The spark was wasted by the offense and Dixon would be asked to make his way back to the field to punt the ball away. This time it would be his leg that made the impact as he launched a perfect punt to pin the Chiefs at the four-yard line. While LA’s defense will get some of the credit for holding KC to just 13 points in the first half it is largely predicated on the monster effort demonstrated by the Special Teams unit.
The defense bends but does not break
The defense for LA did allow the Chiefs offense to go 350+ yards on offense, but they also made multiple goal line stands that kept the game within reach, unfortunately for them they play with one of the worst offenses in the league. The Rams were up against one of the best red zone offenses in the NFL and forced three field goals and had a crucial interception when their backs were against a wall. There are plenty of issues that will need to be sorted out next year, but for now give credit where credit is due.
Play calling is predictable
I am not sure who to blame anymore, but LA’s play calling has become one of the most predictable in the NFL. The offensive line is absolutely abysmal so realistically there is not much room for creativity. Even with a heavy dosage of quarterback designed runs and attempts to get Kyren Williams going the Chiefs did not bite on any play-action as Perkins ran for his life most of the game. McVay went to the screen game a few times to help slow down the bulldozing defenders but even then they were in the backfield before there was even a chance for a play to develop.
McVay also needs to take some of the blame as well. On first and second down McVay too often called run plays and did not call anything that helped Perkins get into rhythm on early downs. The game plan seemed to change after the half and LA’s third string QB finally got some chances, but down by 17 points it was a bit too late. The offense were without many of its weapons, but even then the great ones always find a way. When Perkins was finally given the command of the offense he drove 75 yards down the field to put the Rams first touchdown on the board, here’s to wondering what the game would have looked like if he would have allowed his quarterback to take over earlier in the game.
Game clock management is still an issue
If you are the betting type and see a line that reads “Sean McVay will run down the sidelines like a madman to call a timeout just before the play clock expires” I would heavily encourage you to take it. It seems like every week LA has some kind of miscommunication in regards to game clock management, this week being no different with McVay calling two timeouts to save the penalty in just the first half. With just five minutes left in the second quarter, Los Angeles had already wasted all of their timeouts. It likely did not have any negative impact with their third-stringer in the backfield, but it continues to be a pattern for this football team.
While I gave the Rams defense credit for their goal line stances on Sunday, Patrick Mahomes still easily walked all over LA’s secondary. The unit looked abysmal as Marquise Copeland continues to get by any receiver with a little speed, nearly allowing a touchdown to Marquez Valdes-Scantling if not for his holding penalty to slow the receiver down. Jalen Ramsey was burned by Travis Kelce for a touchdown that left him dazed and confused and also hurt the team early with an unnecessary roughness call that pinned his offense in their own territory the very first drive of the game. Troy Hill and Taylor Rapp missed tackles with opportunities to get the defense off the field on third downs and despite Nick Scott’s interception he was also burned a few times for big gains.
Ramsey made some good plays on the ball, especially on the trick play that put Kelce in position to score, but outside of him the secondary looks lost. Despite drafting multiple players for depth and trading for Hill during the NFL draft, no one has seemed to step up. Rapp and Copeland are the weakest links on the defense this season so it is a bit head-scratching that they have not given their younger players more opportunities.
Jeff Fisher era of football is back
With the new 17 game regular season, no NFL team will be able to finish 7-9, 8-8, or 9-7.— CBS Sports HQ (@CBSSportsHQ) March 30, 2021
Throwback to Jeff Fisher's famous 7-9 speech pic.twitter.com/sgp0WgKQfa
With yet another loss the Rams are on track to finish well below the .500 mark. They resemble nothing of their prior selves as McVay continues to fail to find victories with so many obstacles in his way. On Sunday, I was reminded of the Jeff Fisher era of Rams football. The Special Teams carried the team, the defense was mediocre but kept the team within striking distance, and the offense was uninspiring and predictable. This is a tough team to watch and it doesn’t look like it will get any easier after yet another loss.
What did you think the good, the bad, and the ugly were this week? Let us know in the comments!