It’s in all probability simply as properly that this column wasn’t written within the speedy aftermath of the Rams’ loss at Tampa Bay on Sunday. If it had been, I worry it might have turn into a “fireplace the coach, fireplace the GM, commerce the gamers, promote the group’ diatribe.
Typically the idea of “Overreaction Monday” is overrated.
However a day later, it’s nonetheless clear. Midway by way of the NFL’s 18-week season, the defending champs are nonetheless standing however on the ropes. Sunday’s 16-13 loss to the Bucs was the most recent testomony to the significance of (a) a functioning offensive line and (b) a functioning working recreation – exemplified by the Rams’ lack of each – and has put the defending Tremendous Bowl champions in a gap.
The excellent news? The NFL is awash in mediocrity in 2022, and even at 3-5, the Rams might nonetheless worm their manner into the postseason. However the schedule is hard.
They nonetheless face highway video games at New Orleans (3-5 earlier than its Monday evening recreation with Baltimore), Kansas Metropolis (6-2) and Inexperienced Bay (3-6), plus their divisional home-and-home matchup with NFC West chief Seattle (6-3) and resurgent quarterback Geno Smith.
One remaining dwelling recreation is a Thursday evening towards Las Vegas, which means the shortest journey of the 12 months for the SoCal chapter of Raider Nation and one other night of silent counts. And the Rams’ next-to-last “highway” recreation is New 12 months’s Day at SoFi Stadium towards the 5-3 Chargers, who’ve been equally unpredictable this 12 months.
There are not any working again reinforcements about to affix the Rams, no impressed acquisitions like C.J. Anderson in 2018 or Sony Michel final 12 months. There have been actually alternatives on the commerce deadline, however Basic Supervisor Les Snead opted to remain the course. How a lot will he remorse that if this season continues on its present tempo?
The offensive line stays a piece in – properly, it’s exhausting to name it progress, with eight totally different lineups in eight video games and possibly a ninth this week towards Arizona.
And that remaining possession on Sunday, when the Rams wanted to get only one first all the way down to put the sport away however couldn’t do it? That’s illustrative of an offense that has only one reliable weapon (All-Professional receiver Cooper Kupp) and continuously finds itself in difficult conditions.
Darrell Henderson had 56 dashing yards on 12 carries on Sunday, and no teammate had greater than 9 yards. The Rams had been 4 for 15 in third-down effectivity, with eight three-and-outs. They’d 206 yards all informed, and 68 on the bottom.
They had been as near profitable as they had been as a result of their protection saved stepping up till Tampa Bay’s remaining possession. However at that time that unit was just about worn to a nub, resulting in Tom Brady’s 60-yards-in-35-seconds drive for the profitable rating.
So no surprise Jalen Ramsey was annoyed afterward, saying extra urgency was required and including, “We don’t received video games to spare, like this ain’t the NBA.” He additionally famous there have been too many occasions when the protection would come off the sphere after getting a cease and be informed to remain prepared as a result of they’d should go proper again out once more, and he prompt – in language not appropriate for dwell TV – that the offense might use some “canine” strong-willed sufficient to be closers.
Coach Sean McVay was requested about these feedback throughout his Monday postmortem. How might he disagree with what has been so obvious?
“Jalen is a good competitor,” McVay stated. “He would say the identical factor on the defensive aspect of the ball if the roles had been reversed. … That’s constant together with his demeanor and I do know the place he’s coming from by way of desirous to win, desirous to compete and wanting his teammates to anticipate to do properly and have the arrogance to shut out these video games.”
In different phrases, if the top coach requested him to chill it, that may stay between them.
However the numbers backed up Ramsey’s level. The Rams spent a lot of Sunday in third-and-long conditions. On their remaining six possessions (not counting their lateral-heavy remaining play as time expired), they didn’t convert on third-and-7, third-and-17, third-and-19, third-and-11, third-and-15 and the third-and-5 that might have secured the sport however didn’t.
“After we’re in manageable conditions, I feel we do properly with that,” receiver Allen Robinson stated. “We now have a whole lot of playmakers who’re in a position to do this. However on the finish of the day, what do you name on third-and-17, third-and-19, even third-and-13 or 12?”
McVay prompt “modifications” in his remarks following Sunday’s recreation. By Monday afternoon, he stated he hadn’t gotten to it but.
However the remaining weeks shall be both an inspiring comeback story or will get fairly ugly. Sunday’s recreation at SoFi towards Arizona – dealing with its personal points with a 3-6 file – goes to be a get-right recreation for any individual. If it’s not the Rams, this factor might go south rapidly.
“This isn’t for lack of competing as exhausting as these guys can,” McVay stated. However, he added later, “There’s sufficient stuff that isn’t going away that we wish that you could’t simply say, ‘Hey, we’re simply this one factor away from having the ability to get it mounted.’ We’re working by way of that proper now.”
There hasn’t been a repeat Tremendous Bowl winner in 18 seasons, because the New England Patriots repeated in XXXVIII and XXXIX (the 2003 and ’04 seasons, respectively). The Rams appear to be exhibiting us in real-time why these repeats are so troublesome.
But that is such a bizarre NFL season. Take away the Philadelphia Eagles (8-0) and Minnesota Vikings (7-1) on the high, and the Detroit Lions, Las Vegas Raiders, Pittsburgh Steelers, Carolina Panthers and Houston Texans on the backside, and everybody else is inside three video games within the standings on the halfway level. Of the league’s 32 groups, 17 are beneath .500, and within the NFC 10 of 16 are under break-even. Any given Sunday, certainly.
But the Rams are 2½ video games behind Seattle and along with the head-to-head conferences have a recreation in hand. And with their struggles, the Rams are nonetheless a recreation out of the NFC’s seventh and remaining playoff spot (though that’s presently occupied by the 4-4 San Francisco 49ers, and the much less stated about that the higher.)
Nonetheless, something’s doable. So I requested McVay on Monday’s Zoom name: Is the NFC West nonetheless a winnable division?
“I’d say that for us, now we have to play higher soccer,” he stated. “…I’d by no means say that there’s not a chance for us to do this, however we’ve received to begin dealing with our enterprise the precise manner for that to be a dialog that has benefit to it.”