Sports can often be overdramatized. That is part of it’s charm and in some cases it can be very annoying. This was not the most devasting loss the Los Angeles Rams have had. It’s not close to that, but directly after last night’s loss, it’s hard not to wonder if this team is ready to make a push to the postseason this year. Maybe I am naive, but after the first two weeks of play I thought the Rams were a top half team. I am now questioning if they should be in the top 20. The NFL is a week to week game and it’s very reactive. The reactions this week will be that the Rams might not be as good as we thought they were.
There is still room for optimism, LA was never going to go undefeated, sometimes the best way to learn is through a loss (they say it’s easier to learn after a win though), and LA has a chance to look at themselves and say “What can I do better?” If the Rams learn anything and apply it they may still be in store for the type of season that passes all preseason expectations. If the Rams continue to make the mistakes they made on Monday night, and basically give games away, then this may be as long of a season as last year. Time will tell. Let’s see some of what Sean McVay had to say following the loss.
LIVE: Rams Postgame Press Conference with HC Sean McVay following our MNF matchup against the Bengals. https://t.co/SPkAdei4Ui— Los Angeles Rams (@RamsNFL) September 26, 2023
“To me, the narrative of the game was, I loved the way that our defense played. I thought they were relentless. I thought that special teams did a nice job. And then there were just some opportunities that we’ll be able to learn from, and whether it’s just figuring out how do we communicate, how do we handle some of the different things that they were presenting. You give credit to Cincinnati, but there was a lot of things that we did anticipate and you know we gotta be able to figure out how do we execute at a better level.”
LA had chances to win this game. I don’t want to take ANYTHING away from the Bengals who deserved the win. I don’t always like when people say the losing team should’ve won. If a team should’ve won then they should’ve won. I am not saying LA should’ve won, but golly did the Rams have every chance to pull this one out. They didn’t. There were a few questionable officiating calls. I thought that Tutu Atwell scored a touchdown to start the game. I thought Matthew Stafford’s first interception was dropped.
“There are certain things that, you know, were unfortunate about tonight.”
I am not going to blame the officiating for the Rams loss. I still think New Orleans Saints fans spend too much time blaming officials for losses, and are not looking at their own team’s blunders. It doesn’t take a football buff to say that the Rams offense last night didn’t show up in crucial moments.
“The situational ball that we’ve been pretty good in offensively, you know was not good at all tonight, and that ended up really hurting us.”
The Rams lost momentum throughout the game. LA had a few chances in the redzone and each time they were held to a field goal it felt like a lost opportunity because, and McVay says this, the Rams had done pretty well converting touchdowns so far this year. In Week 3 they had to settle for a number of field goals. The team can bounce back, but the entire team, coaches and players needs to learn from this. Especially on the offensive side of the ball.
“There will be a lot of things that we can learn from this tape, and that’s coaches and players alike.”
McVay’s seeming refusal to run the ball was odd. Kyren Williams had scored a number of points for LA so far this year, and yesterday in the redzone they tried to set up some screens on occasion, but Williams I don’t believe got a redzone carry until the final minute or so left in the game (I should be fact checked on that stat). I didn’t understand that, but I am sure that LA’s head coach knows more about the X’s and O’s than this social worker and part time sports writer.
“There’s certain things where you do wanna be able to run the football and then there’s other time when there’s better advantageous looks to be able to get off some of the things that we did, and that’s what we’ll look at. There was some favorable opportunities that unfortunately we weren’t able to capitalize on, but you know sometimes you have sequences where you are trying to call a run, and they’ll give you a structure that enables you to be able to get into different plays. Whether that be throwing it or another run and that was something that came up tonight.”
I was thinking last night that Sean McVay used to protect Jared Goff from himself. McVay would in some cases make sure (as much as he could) that Goff wasn’t in a position to throw the game away. The coach has all the trust in the world in Stafford and he should. Stafford’s earned it. The coach should also consider not giving Stafford an opportunity to throw some of the interceptions that were thrown. Give credit to the Bengals who got the win, but certainly the Rams would’ve played this game differently with the gift of hindsight.
“A lot of self-inflicted wounds. And you know and I say that but you do give them (Cincinnati) credit. I don’t want to takeaway the credit that they deserve for some of the different things, they created some confusion, and they had a great crowd tonight.”
The defense kept LA in this game. They did it throughout the contest making key stops, a huge interception and more. LA’s defense came into the season with so many questions and through three weeks the defense has perhaps been LA’s best unit. The offense is supposed to be led by the savvy veteran Stafford, who has looked great at times, but he has also had four picks in two games. Are all of the interceptions Stafford’s fault? No. Are the losses all Stafford’s fault? They say that wins and losses aren’t a pitcher’s stat, are they a quarterback’s stat?
“You’re trying to be able to figure it out on the fly, and they did a good job, a nice job being able present a variety of different issues.”
If the Rams want to get back on track then they are going to have to figure out these issues and move forward. If this young team isn’t ready to make the jump to being a contender this year then the first two weeks fooled me. I still believe in this team. I believe in the coaching and there’s an argument to be made that the Rams have already exceeded some projections.
LA created positive expectations after their victory over the Seattle Seahawks and their competitive game against the San Francisco 49ers. It was those performances that made this loss so disappointing. LA still has 14 games to show everyone the type of team they are this year. We’ll see what happens.