As a Rams fan, life has become similar to that of Bill Murray’s character in Groundhog Day. Every week the offensive line is mauled, players get injured, the soft zone defense is easily dismantled, and Sean McVay is left at the podium trying to act is if there is any semblance of hope with this football team.
Baker Mayfield’s magic gave the fans one brief week of celebration and Monday night marked the inevitable return to the cellar of the NFL. If I’m being honest, I expected nothing less. I did not expect to win this game, nor do I expect the Rams to win any more of them going forward. Regardless, the weekly dissection of this moribund outfit will continue.
Offense: Mayfield fine, blame the line
I don’t see how any evaluator of football can blame Baker Mayfield here. I felt he threw the ball well given the cold weather and the constant pass rush in his face a half second after each snap. The Rams could resurrect the ghost of prime Joe Montana and the results wouldn’t be any different. Mayfield played fine here, made a few nice third down throws, and is without a doubt the best active QB on this roster.
Facing a terrible run defense in Green Bay, Cam Akers was able to find holes for once. I thought he ran with patience and authority. Kyren again showed burst in his limited opportunities. If QBs are given a pass behind this patchwork offensive line, the RBs should as well. It’s very hard to evaluate any RB on this team with a starting line containing four practice squad level players that are likely better suited on a bar stool in their hometown talking about what almost was. Regardless, Akers had a fine game and should’ve probably been given even more carries.
This unit is so ravaged by injury at this point that it is almost entirely made up of the starting preseason lineup. Ben Skowronek is now on IR for the season. Tutu Atwell again showed his ability to separate and was again missed deep on what should have been a TD. He also had a ghastly drop that would have either been a TD or very close to it. He’s still a work in progress but things are looking up. Van Jefferson was his usual self and largely forgettable. I’d assume next week Lance McCutcheon will play meaningful snaps. Tyler Higbee touched the ball more this week and scored a touchdown but I still find myself pondering how important he actually is to this team. I lean toward not so much.
I no longer have words or interest in typing about this unit. It was terrible at full health and it’s still terrible several months and several injuries later. The Packers were in the backfield all day beating tackles and guards like bongo drums. Even Rob Havenstein is routinely beaten this season despite being the best player on the line (allegedly). Brian Allen is hurt AGAIN and on IR AGAIN. It’s been a series of unfortunate events for the unit and vast changes are needed in the offseason or this team will once again be dead in the water. Absolutely pathetic performance on Monday night.
Defense: the most disappointing group on this entire team yet again
Leonard Floyd resumed his career after a few weeks off and was routinely wrecking plays. As usual, the other side of the line produced nothing and Aaron Rodgers had all day to throw. I’d assume the soft zone would be more effective if the pass rush could be even league average. It isn’t and Michael Hoecht plays EDGE as if his cleats are made of lead. Not only can he not rush the passer effectively but he also cannot set an edge or move laterally to prevent being burned on sweeps/reverses.
I don’t remember the last time I saw Ernest Jones make some consistent plays and I honestly forgot he was on the team Monday night. Bobby Wagner was giving it his all as usual but was largely neutralized as Rodgers picked apart the Rams’ zones all night. Not much to say here. AJ Dillon was running all over the defense early on in the game. I tend to blame injures on their interior of the defensive line and not the combo of Wagner/Jones.
I will continue to bang this drum until other fans begin to realize it. The safety play on this football team is not getting the job done. The Rams need playmakers here rather than tossing in special teams talent next to draft bust Taylor Rapp. The safeties aren’t effective in the run game, don’t make plays on the ball, and seem confused every time a big pass play occurs. The corners were once again torched all over the field and as usual, I’m unsure if it was their fault or the fact that they were playing 5-10 yards off the line of scrimmage. Rodgers diced the secondary up just as every other QB has done with ease this season.
Despite the missed extra point, Matt Gay has been a top five kicker in the NFL this year. He nailed a 55 yarder in the Lambeau cold in this one even after the announcers tried to jinx it. Riley Dixon on the other hand was punting as if his leg was half frozen, getting minimal distance on his kicks and allowing great starting field position on several Green Bay drives.
This team was a mess Monday night. The offensive line offered no time to throw. The referees called penalties on the Rams seemingly every time they had a big play. Big run, holding. Sack, pass interference. Just a mess of an outing from a penalty standpoint. The soft zone scheme was predictably torched with ease by future Hall of Fame quarterback Aaron Rodgers. Special teams couldn’t punt, cover, or tackle most of the night. As I said earlier, the Baker Mayfield magic against the Raiders was never going to last. It was a truly blissful departure from the losses but reality always catches back up. This was, is, and will continue to be a bad football team trying to cover up injuries with safe schemes and practice squad level talent. The playoffs will begin without the 2022 Rams and any wins from here forward will be for pride alone. I don’t expect there to be many more.