The Los Angeles Rams snuck by the Atlanta Falcons with a 31-27 victory in Week 2. The Falcons nearly lifted the “28-3” curse that has plagued the organization since the Super Bowl but just came up short thanks to the heroics of one Jalen Ramsey. His final interception in the waning minutes of Sunday’s game should quiet the critics for now, but there are plenty of others to be critical of.
This is the Good, the Bad, and the Ugly Vol. 2.
Jalen Ramsey is back
Several players throughout the week took it upon themselves to check up on Ramsey after a horrific performance in Week 1 against the Buffalo Bills. Whatever motivational speeches were had behind the scenes made an immediate impact because the All-Pro is finally back! With the Rams in jeopardy of throwing a 28-3 lead deep in the fourth quarter LA’s corner back put the game to rest with an acrobatic interception over the head of Bryan Edwards. He also nearly had a pick-six earlier in the game but could not come up with the football, safe-to-say he was forgiven for that one.
Decobie Durrant shows flashes
As long as Les Snead is the General Manager the Rams will likely never see a first round draft pick for years to come, but that’s alright. Snead and McVay continue to find diamonds-in-the-rough with their later round picks—this years might turn out to be Durrant. He recorded not only his first sack of his career but also his first interception. If not for a Marcus Mariota tackle at the 10 yard line it would have also been good for his first touchdown. He might be undersized at the position and is at risk for mismatches at times, but he seems to also have a knack for getting his hands on the football.
Decobie Durant! First, career INT!— MLFootball (@_MLFootball) September 18, 2022
Ben Skowronek headlines McVay’s newest innovation
LA’s run game looked much improved from the week prior and that can be largely credited to the genius of McVay. Skowronek played out of the fullback position and was the lead blocker in many of the run calls. This appears to be just the beginning of the concept and will likely set up bigger plays in the future, but the concept is just another example of McVay’s ability to adaptively change his offense to fix his weaknesses. Last week the line could not open up any holes for the running back so in response he let his big-bodied receiver open up some for him.
Coleman Shelton broke into a big smile when talking about Ben Skowronek at FB today. "Meathead...It was great, opened our playbook a little bit. He did an awesome job. They've stuck around through history."— Jourdan Rodrigue (@JourdanRodrigue) September 19, 2022
Kupp is absolutely ridiculous
Build that man a statue. Yes, critics will quickly point to his fumble as the possible nail-in-the-coffin for LA’s chance of winning on Sunday, but can we just simply continue to marvel at what this man can do? After not getting a single look in the first quarter Kupp finished with 11 receptions that went for 108 yards and two touchdowns. I would rival Stafford’s connection with Kupp against any wide receiver/quarterback duo in the NFL. His back-to-back toe drags on the sidelines just simply warmed my heart. Kupp is easily one of the most electrifying talents in the NFL and thankfully he plays for LA.
My little Cooper Kupp remains ridiculous pic.twitter.com/E9tIXoH7ye— Matthew Berry (@MatthewBerryTMR) September 18, 2022
Matthew Stafford stays upright
After allowing seven sacks last game the offensive line for Los Angeles kept their quarterback clean for most of the day. The unit only allowed one sack the entire game and with the help of Skowronek helped pave the way for a decent result in the run game. Collectively LA finished with 91 yards rushing between Cam Akers and Darrell Henderson which was effective enough to sell the run on play-action. Unfortunately Tremayne Anchrum did leave the game and did not return with an ankle injury but in his stead Alaric Jackson put up a valent effort.
Where does Tutu Atwell fit in this offense?
There was a lot of hype surrounding the Rams second-round pick from the 2021 draft this offseason. The speedster seemed to be on track to carve himself a role as the deep threat that no defender could keep up with. In Week 2 Atwell only saw the field twice. Last week McVay was critical of Akers and told the media he wanted to see more from the running back—where is Atwell’s hard love? What does the second year receiver need to do to get his playing time, or the ball in his hands? As much as I have already praised Les Snead and McVay for their brilliance during the draft, Atwell still remains a mystery. Maybe McVay isn’t showing his hand just quite yet, or maybe the Rams receiver just is not meant to be on a NFL football field.
The secondary for the Rams caught a lot of blame for Week 1’s defensive debacle and rightfully so. Against the Falcons the unit overall improved, only allowing 196 yards passing but also gave up two touchdowns. The reason for them entering my “bad” column was the miscue on Mariota’s last touchdown throw that allowed the comeback to return at an alarming rate. On the play Ramsey was expecting secondary help on the right side of the field but did not get any, allowing Olamide Zaccheaus get open and score an easy touchdown. That specific drive of the game clouded an overall effective day for the Rams defense.
Special Teams springs fourth quarter comeback
John Wolford was looking like he might get some valuable reps with the score getting out of hand quickly for the Falcons, but instead a free-runner broke through the line during a punt and Atlanta suddenly had six points on the board and within range of being a threat. Someone definitely messed up. Special Team Coordinator, Joe DeCamillas, will have some tape to review with his unit to get things fixed for next time—but against a better opponent it is these type of plays that just cannot be allowed to happen.
Stafford’s first 11 throws made everyone believe that the week prior was just simply a fluke. It appeared that the veteran quarterback had shaken off all the rust and was back to playing at an elite level, but then the first interception happened. A deep pass intended for Tyler Higbee was thrown short of the receiver and directly into the arms of Casey Hayward in the back of the endzone.
On his second interception Stafford lost track of where Mykal Walker was on the field and the Atlanta defender picked the dart from the QB cleanly.
The interceptions were not the cataclysm that lead to the Falcons coming back, but his multiple interceptions in two games back-to-back is not a good trend to be heading in.
Stafford was not the only one to blame for the day’s turnovers with Kupp also making his own mistake. With the team driving down the field in hopes of putting the game away, Falcons defender Darren Hall knocked the ball out of Kupp’s arms with Atlanta recovering.
The Super Bowl champs were able to walk away with a win, but these turnovers will only be more detrimental to their chance to repeat as the competition gets harder. The Rams have a target on their backs and every team they play this season is bringing all they have.
What did you think? Will the Rams be able to play like they did in the first half of regulation, or will they be doomed by their turnovers? Let’s discuss!