The Rams are 3-9, which is the worst 12-game start by any defending champion in the 100+ year history of the NFL, according to @ESPNStatsInfo. The Rams are the first team since the 2003 Buccaneers (7-9) to have a losing record the season after winning the Super Bowl.— Sarah Barshop (@sarahbarshop) December 5, 2022
We’ve all known the season’s been over for weeks now. Technically I guess they’re still mathematically alive but who gives a crap? From the very first butt-whooping at the hands of the Bills, something about this team has been off. I had faint hope they could turn it around yet their inconsistent nature has become the death of them.
The league will crown a new Super Bowl champion in February and we’ll have to accept it. All that talk of “running it back” has turned into a dud. Why not be thankful for what happened the year prior and read my takeaways from this game? That was an awful transition into this post but sue me I’m in a reflective mood.
Rams must move on from John Wolford in offseason
This one should be obvious but the Rams front office doesn’t seem to realize that John Wolford is undeserving of being a starting quarterback in the NFL.
I disagreed with Wolford getting the starting nod over Bryce Perkins this week. Not that Perkins was any better last weekend but he at least displayed some positive qualities that could’ve translated to this matchup. The fact is that LA needs an experienced signal caller behind Matthew Stafford. Take the young gun’s first interception for example:
John rolled out to his right and tried to throw the ball on the opposite side of the field. In NFL land, this is a big no-no. Maybe Stafford makes a throw of this caliber but that’s besides the point. Wolford should not have tried to force the ball to his receiver, especially in double coverage. This is simply a mistake that can’t be made at the pro level. Defenses are much too fast and will pounce on these errors in a heartbeat.
In some cases, that reckless mentality is eventually coached out of young players the more they play. However, some players never seem to learn. In Wolford’s defense, he doesn’t have the experience to know any better given how rarely he plays. That was only the first stop on the JW experience roller coaster that produced some puke-worthy mishaps.
The last LA drive where they tried to win the game illustrated why the Rams need more experience under center on their roster. Wolford had a chance to win the game by airing it out and that’s an unfair position for a below average NFL quarterback like himself to be in. His limitations as a player were front and center and no wonder the game ended like this:
John Wolford really let it fly on this pass— PropSwap (@PropSwap) December 5, 2022
Wolford was going to because he’s never been placed in a situation like this in the pros. Not to mention the arm strength clearly wasn’t there. If it’s taking that much effort to chuck a ball 20 yards downfield, a certain someone might have to rethink his career. I’m not trying to be mean but there have been several instances in this game of Wolford underthrowing the ball which made the deep passing game virtually nonexistent.
On a third-and-20 pass to Ben Skowronek on the play prior, John held onto the ball too long and threw the ball a smidge too late to where the receiver couldn’t haul it in. If the anticipation was there, Skowronek could’ve caught it quickly with Tariq Woolen closing in behind him. Experienced signal callers are able to handle these situations with ease instead of the happy feet Wolford displayed on that last drive.
I can’t stress enough that LA needs someone like a Fitzmagic or Case Keenum seated behind Matthew Stafford. They have limitations of their own but they have enough experience to come in on a moment’s notice. It just doesn’t make any sense why the Rams entrust the offense to young guys who’ve barely seen the field. This loss should make everyone more and more grateful LA has Stafford to make all the throws these guys can’t
Offense had a balanced gameplan so that means more touches for Akers and Tutu right?
For what seemed like the first time in forever, Sean McVay called a balanced game on offense. Why it took Stafford hitting IR to finally give it a try is beyond me. Baby steps I suppose. In Wolford’s last start in Week 10 against the Cardinals, he attempted 36 passes. This week at home versus the Seahawks, he only threw it 26 times. Before the final drive, this was the team’s offensive production:
Fun Fact:— Ramblin' Fan (@RamblinFan) December 4, 2022
LA Rams passing 14 of 23 for 178 yards
LA Rams running 33 runs for 171 yards and 2 TDs.
Yep. The LA Rams CAN run.
Wait, so the LA Rams can actually run it? HALLELUJAH! I never thought I’d ever see that happen. Part of that production on the ground is thanks to the redemption arc of one Cam Akers. Gosh I hope his story gets made in a movie someday if he keeps it up.
Akers coming into this game had a single touchdown. He went double or nothing against Seattle and had his best game since the 2020 season. Don’t look now but Cam has been showing some consistency the last two games after being in the doghouse for much of the year.
On Sunday, Akers carried the ball 17 times for 60 yards and a pair of touchdowns. It’s the second time in three games that he has reached the 60-yard plateau on the ground. In LA’s loss to the Saints, Cam had 61 yards on 14 carries. Last week against the Chiefs, he had 37 yards on eight carries, good for a 4.6 average. Despite all the losing, Akers might be winning the role of workhorse back if he can stay on McVay’s good side.
Cam Akers saw a 73% snap share today. It's the first time he's been over 50% all season long.— JJ Zachariason (@LateRoundQB) December 5, 2022
His rushing average isn’t a sight to behold but this might be the start of solid production the Rams have been waiting for since his rookie campaign. While the team is starting to figure him out, they haven’t regarding Tutu Atwell. Luckily, he was getting more opportunities on offense that hadn’t been granted to him in previous weeks.
Atwell led the Rams in receiving yards with 48 on two catches and also ran four times for 23 yards, good for a 5.8 average per carry. It appears that LA is trying him out in different roles and he’s flourishing. If he can throw the ball 20+ yards downfield let’s put him under center next. Tutu has the potential for a decent role carved out in the offense. That is if the Rams can figure out where to put him.
Tutu Atwell’s career:— JAKE ELLENBOGEN (@JKBOGEN) December 4, 2022
33.8 Yards Per Reception
Not a matter of not being able to make it on the field. At that point its clear there has been a failure to get him on the field. He makes plays everytime he’s on the field.
Atwell was universally hated by the fanbase and I love seeing him getting the chance to shut them all up. He has produced whenever he’s been on the field and the fact is that McVay hasn’t been utilizing him to his fullest potential. With all the injuries he should be playing more. It’s inexcusable that he isn’t and it’s a darn shame.
The secondary needs a massive overhaul (Bye-bye Ramsey?)
Seattle fans could hardly contain their glee when they saw Jalen Ramsey gave up the game-winning touchdown to DK Metcalf. Their trolling was excessive and for the masochist in me numbed by all the pain the Rams have caused me this season, quite hilarious.
Here, @dkm14 models the absolute latest in functional storage, the Jalen Ramsey Backpack.— Danny O'Neil (@dannyoneil) December 5, 2022
"It feels like you're not wearing anything," Metcalf said. "I can do pretty much anything I want while I'm wearing it!" pic.twitter.com/OG5UycEb4N
Ramsey had tight coverage on the play yet it was just a perfectly thrown ball by Geno Smith. While the trolling was insufferable, it’s what we’ve come to expect out of Jalen this season. Everyone loves to point out his mistakes because there was a time when he rarely made them. Ever since the Divisional Round of the playoffs, there has been a noticeable drop-off in Ramey’s play. Those mistakes he would make once in a blue moon has grown into a weekly occurrence.
There have been others including allowing Stefon Diggs and rookie Chris Olave to run by him for touchdowns in their respective matchups to completely losing All-Pro Travis Kelce on a scoring play last week. I’m wondering whether this is just a down year for the superstar corner or a sign of worse things to come.
It’s not just Ramsey that has been the problem. The entire unit has underperformed as they allowed Smith to bend them over and spank them out of Hollywood.
Geno Smith threw for 367 yards today & had two WRs go over 100 yards.— . . (@JohnnyBSkol) December 5, 2022
Tell me again about that great #RamsHouse secondary.
Tyler Lockett and Metcalf caught 17 passes for a grand total of 255 yards and two touchdowns between them. Before the season, the secondary was a weak point due to its lack of depth and experience. That unit has been exposed and both Metcalf and Lockett were reaping the benefits. Take this Metcalf reception on Derion Kendrick. The poor kid was wildly overmatched against a top playmaker.
DK Metcalf: Chess— LaDarius Brown (@ladarius_brown) December 4, 2022
Rams secondary: Checkerspic.twitter.com/mlxOdu0kcb
Then there was this Lockett touchdown which tied up the game in the second quarter. He probably could’ve walked in if he wanted to.
The Usher celebration was clever and he gets style points for it but how did he get that wide open?! Those two along with Geno Smith as I said just had their way with the Rams defense all afternoon. It’s very disappointing to see considering the defense was supposed to keep LA in games while they weather the injury bug. The secondary bent up until the final drive when they finally broke. The Rams’ “plan” to slow Geno wasn’t a plan at all. He tore them to shreds.
Geno Smith once again dominated single-high safety coverages in Week 13, completing 19 of 25 passes for 250 yards & 3 TD.— Next Gen Stats (@NextGenStats) December 5, 2022
Smith has thrown a league-high 15 TD & earned a perfect 99 NGS passing score against single-high coverages this season.#SEAvsLAR | #Seahawks pic.twitter.com/6gi3gcJvEH
If a player is dominating a certain coverage, why would you play it for the majority of his drop backs? Smith has 22 touchdown passes on the season and 15 of them have come when the opposing defense plays single-high. Not to take away from his great game and campaign but could part of the reason Geno has thrived this year is because defenses have been playing him too soft? If so, how has NO ONE FIGURED THIS OUT YET? Give me an elite defense I built in Madden and this game would’ve been a different story.
When this campaign mercifully comes to a close, I don’t see how anyone is safe on that secondary. As crazy as this would’ve sounded last season, why not look into trading Jalen and rebuilding the secondary? As I’ve said, he’s just a small part of the problem but he could be a very valuable trade asset if he is indeed declining. The Rams could pull off a defensive Russell Wilson style trade. Better to cut him loose a year early than a year too late.