The Los Angeles Rams nearly found their first win in five weeks but fell just short to the Seattle Seahawks 27-23 in the final drive of the game. Even though the Rams dropped their sixth loss in a row in another stupendous fashion, there were a few that showed some real promise on Sunday.
With LA nearing mathematical elimination from the playoffs the season has officially become one of the worst from a defending Super Bowl champion. It seems like it will only continue this way with Matthew Stafford shutdown for the rest of the season and the offensive line still in limbo. The rest of the year will be dedicated to finding talent on the roster as players have the opportunity to audition for the 2023 roster. Some players have already made their case.
This is the Good, the Bad, and the Ugly, let’s get it started.
Bobby Wagner was the MVP of the game
It is common practice for players to downplay revenge games, just look at Matthew Stafford last year against the Detroit Lions or Jared Goff for the Rams for that matter, and it was no different for Bobby Wagner this week. That was until the game actually started. Wagner faced the team for the first time that he had built his entire resume with, the team he helped take to two Super Bowls, the team he spent eight years with and what he did on the field Sunday was astonishing. He finished with two sacks, three tackles for loss, and an interception as he attempted to will the Rams to a victory but fell just short. Wagner is the real deal and the LA has him locked up for another four years. This season might be a wash but the hard hitting linebacker gives hope for this defense for the foreseeable future.
Michael Hoecht give his best Aaron Donald impression
Few tidbits on Michael Hoecht's 1st career sack for the @RamsNFL:— J.B. Long (@JB_Long) December 4, 2022
-Ivy League vs SEC
-Undrafted DL learning to play the EDGE vs 9th overall pick at LT
-@DMarcoFarr1 reports his 83yo grandfather is in attendance to see his first game today
With Aaron Donald out of the game due to injury for the first time of his career it became an opportunity for someone to make a name for themselves without the “Aaron Donald” effect. Michael Hoecht stepped up in his absence. The second year defensive tackle finished with two sacks with one being credited as a forced fumble as Geno Smith was willing his team down the field.
His first start of the season was one that he will never forget and may have just earned him a permanent starting position on the line. With Greg Gaines likely signing a lucrative deal next year the defensive line will only get more scarce, Hoecht’s performance makes me feel a bit more confident that the Rams have the right personnel to comeback next season.
Tutu Atwell is not a bust
My opinion has gone back and forth on Tutu Atwell all season long but after watching his performance this Sunday I have decided to not blame the player but blame the coaches. How Atwell has not gotten more chances to be on the field is mind-blowing at this point and the Sean McVay has only himself to blame.
Sean McVay acknowledges that Tutu Atwell "probably should have gotten more opportunities earlier in the season, and that's something I won't run away from, because all this guy has done is answer the bell when he's had his chances."— Greg Beacham (@gregbeacham) December 5, 2022
The second round draft pick out of Louisville proved he was much more than a deep threat on occasion, he proved that he can make an impact on Sunday as an every-down receiver, especially if he can get a quarterback that can throw it more than 30 yards downfield. Atwell finished the game with a modest stat line, two receptions for 48 yards on five targets, but he also finished as LA’s leading receiver.
He is not the second coming of Tyreek Hill and will likely not be the featured receiver in the offense, yet he his truly someone the defense has to account for every play. With a healthy Matthew Stafford throwing to him you have to wonder how good he might actually be.
Sean McVay get crafty on first drive, uses Brandon Powell creatively
The Rams first drive of the game gave me the sort of Deja Vu chills you only get in dreams. Sean McVay’s play calling was straight from 2018 as he navigated his second string QB through Seattle’s defense with ease. The Super Bowl winning head coach got the run game going early with three handoffs that netted 22 yards. With the ground game established early Wolford had a strong pocket for his first attempted pass and found Ben Skowronek for a 22 yard gain. That is when Brandon Powell took over, taking an end-around for nine yards and following it up with a screen pass that went for 14 yards before he was downed at the one yard line.
Without Cooper Kupp on the field to feed receptions, McVay has had the challenge of utilizing his other playmakers. For the first time this season the Rams offense looked dynamic, unpredictable, nearly unstoppable. Of course the injury-riddled offensive line could not hold up together forever and the offense would struggle at times, but that opening drive was a glimpse into the past.
The best thing to come from the Rams injuries may be the emergence of Brandon Powell as a true weapon on offense. He is great out of the backfield on end-arounds and screens but also proved to have the hands and speed to stretch the field if asked to. He finished with three rushes that went for 45 yards and added four receptions for 39 yards. We will have to wait until next season to see his true potential but imagining Powell, Atwell, and Kupp on the same field gives me goosebumps. The offense could look fast next year.
Brandon Powell, top 5 ram of all time— Cameron DaSilva (@camdasilva) December 4, 2022
If there is a silver lining for this Rams season it's name is Brandon Powell— Daniel Tedford (@dgtedford) December 4, 2022
Oh, that was a slick play design.— Jourdan Rodrigue (@JourdanRodrigue) December 4, 2022
Brandon Powell getting the YAC when it's needed today.
John Wolford’s arm strength
John Wolford was up and down in his second start this season going 14 of 26 for 178 yards and two interceptions. His first drive of the game looked impressive as he lead his team to opening drive touchdown but that was the height of his play on Sunday. Wolford was not the reason the Rams lost. He made some above average throws including a dart to Atwell in the corner of the endzone that would have been a touchdown if the speedy receiver would have got his feet down. McVay did not hold him back either, letting him throw it with confidence for the most of the game.
Tutu Atwell wide open for a 75-yard TD but John Wolford's baby arm can't get it there— Sosa Kremenjas (@QBsMVP) December 4, 2022
The problem was not Wolford’s game management, it was his arm strength. At one point in the game he had Atwell wide open down the side of the field that if thrown in front of him would have easily been a touchdown. Instead, he threw well behind him and the ball fell incomplete. The Rams should be looking for a new backup next season with a better caliber arm and possibly someone a bit more seasoned.
Tyler Higbee’s value on offense
There are times that Tyler Higbee is downright unstoppable and then there are times where he completely disappears from the offense. Against the Seahawks it was the latter. Higbee finished with two receptions on five targets for a total of 14 yards. He had a dropped pass and lost his balance on what looked to be a touchdown on a short completion, though the blame could easily be credited to Wolford’s pass being a little out in front of him. Even with Stafford healthy, the veteran tight end has not been able to break the 100-yard mark this season and has not been the normal threat in the redzone without a touchdown this season. It would not be surprising if Higbee falls out of favor with the team during the 2023 draft, though there are plenty of other concerns that need to be remedied first. Regardless, with a depleted receiving core it is a bit surprising that he is not getting more attention on offense.
The Defense gives up the win
The call for Raheem Morris’ job has been louder than previous weeks after his defense gave away the win in the final minute of Sunday’s game. Seattle’s final drive consisted of just one third down, a third-and-10 that was easily converted by a ten yard gain by Tyler Lockett, and three of the eleven plays going for 10+ yards before allowing the game winning touchdown pass to D.K. Metcalf. Sure, Aaron Donald was not on the field and some other injuries effected the performance from the defensive side of the ball, but allowing Geno Smith to go 75 yards in two minutes with ease is unacceptable.
The bend-not-break philosophy works fine when you are not allowing touchdowns, yet when the Rams needed Morris’ unit the most they failed miserably. Blame the players all you want. Jalen Ramsey deserves plenty of criticism for not only his play but his penalty that gave the Seahawks free yardage on the last drive of the play—at some point we have to look at Morris as the culprit. It may have taken me longer than most to get on the bandwagon but I am beginning to feel that his time with the team is coming to an end.
What did you think the good, the bad, and the ugly were? Let’s discuss in the comments!