The Rams sucked out loud on Thursday evening. Certain, you may hand wave away their 31-10 loss towards the Payments by mentioning that Buffalo is a Tremendous Bowl favourite, the opener is without doubt one of the greatest exams of the season for Los Angeles, and say that it’s nonetheless early — all of these items are true. What you may’t do although is faux that the Rams did something convincing that confirmed they will nonetheless cling with the NFL’s elite. This can be a workforce with deep systemic issues, they usually should be mounted, quick.
It’s not all offense’s fault, however actually that’s the place nearly all of issues have been for the Rams. It’s unimaginable that Los Angeles had eight months realizing their offensive line was poor, and didn’t do sufficient about it. The lack of left deal with Andrew Whitworth to retirement was much more impactful than individuals believed, and when paired with rookie Logan Bruss, who tore his ACL in coaching camp, it created a large number. As a substitute of discovering solutions, Los Angeles turned up trying utterly unprepared.
Matthew Stafford was beneath stress for a lot of the evening, and he was by no means capable of get settled within the pocket. Offensively the Rams tried to mitigate this by having him throw out of the gun, however the o-line wasn’t adequate to guard one-on-one. Nonetheless, that shouldn’t hand wave away simply how poor Stafford was. It’s too early to attract conclusions on Stafford based mostly on his reported elbow harm which has plagued him for a lot of the spring and summer season, however this wasn’t simply an arm drawback on Thursday evening — the problems went far deeper.
The offensive line issues led to Stafford getting tunnel imaginative and prescient because of the stress. Stafford functionally ignored everybody on offense apart from Cooper Kupp and Tyler Higbee, focusing on the pair a complete of 26 occasions, 63 p.c of his passing makes an attempt. Kupp was producing, so we are able to justify that — however Higbee struggled to make an impression all evening, and didn’t warrant getting as many alternatives as Stafford tried to present him. The tight finish completed the evening with 5 catches for 39 yards on a stunning 11 targets.
In the meantime the Rams’ 4 different receivers mixed for 10 targets. Stafford may as effectively have forgotten Allen Robinson existed, as a result of he solely focused him twice within the recreation. For comparability, Josh Allen focused his favourite receiver, Stefon Diggs, 9 occasions — and unfold the ball to the remainder of his receivers a complete of 14 occasions. In brief: Allen unfold the ball round extra, focused his depth gamers extra typically, regardless of having 10 fewer passing makes an attempt than Stafford. That could be a balanced offense, and a scarcity of steadiness doomed the Rams.
That difficulty of steadiness is paramount, and leads us into the opposite important difficulty: Operating again. Los Angeles determined to let their high operating again from 2021, Sony Michel, stroll in free company to signal a paltry one yr, $2.1M take care of the Dolphins. A deal Los Angeles simply might have exceeded or at the very least matched, however as an alternative the workforce determined to depend on operating again by committee — and the committee is trash. Darrell Henderson, promoted to the starter within the offseason, appears ill-equipped to hold the load as an every-down again, and the workforce is woefully missing a No. 2. This actually reared its head when the Rams have been pressured to alter their offensive focus and attempt to purchase Stafford time within the pocket through the use of play motion, however the issue was that Buffalo had no cause to imagine they’d really run — so the pretend didn’t idiot anybody.
Which means in case you’re following alongside at residence, listed here are the important thing variations on offense between the 2021 Rams and the 2022 Rams:
- Their offensive line is way worse
- Their operating backs are a lot worse
- The workforce spent a majority of their free company cash on a receiver (Allen Robinson) who Matthew Stafford refused to focus on
The main target is on the offense proper now as a result of it’s harder to essentially consider how the protection was on Thursday evening. For essentially the most half it felt just like the Rams D was … effective. Nothing unimaginable, however removed from terrible both. The receiving duo of Stefon Diggs and Gabriel Davis goes to be troublesome for many groups within the league to cowl, not to mention on a brief area when your quarterback throws three interceptions.
There are some very actual issues concerning the breadth of the Rams’ cross rush. Dropping Von Miller in free company is critical, as a result of because it stands the lions’ share of the stress has to return from Aaron Donald alone, and the workforce is but to seek out one other dependable counterpoint to assault the pocket and take the stress off Donald to do all the things by himself.
I don’t blame Rams followers from desirous to see a silver lining right here and attempt to discover causes this will all be circled, and clearly there’s time — however a few of these points are deep-seated systemic issues that may’t be corrected in brief order. Los Angeles doesn’t must hit the panic button, nevertheless it does must raise the duvet and have their hand hovering over.
We anticipated to see a Rams workforce poised to run it again and contend for a Tremendous Bowl. After Thursday evening it doesn’t appear like they’re even able to contend within the NFC West.