After a thrilling 17-13 victory over their rival Arizona Cardinals. The Rams find themselves in a place they haven’t been under Head coach Jeff Fisher and to take it a step further, haven’t been since 2006. The Rams are 3-1 heading back home on a three game win streak to play the Buffalo Bills. So what is the secret? How do the Rams keep winning? Why do I think they are primed to go at least 11-5?
Well for starters their defense is better than it’s ever been. Over the last three games during this winning streak the Rams have forced eight turnovers. DT Aaron Donald is rated the best overall player in the game for the second straight season by Pro Football Focus and the defense is continuing to get better as a whole. The best defensive line in all of football has some serious depth. With newly acquired DT Dominique Easley able to fill in at defensive tackle and young edge rushers Matt Longacre and Ethan Westbrooks it makes this line even more of a nightmare.
Now with free agency, would having CB Janoris Jenkins and FS Rodney McLeod back be helpful? Yes. Are they still needed? I wouldn’t say so. This defense is making people forget about their losses quickly. With FS Mo Alexander and SS T.J. McDonald playing very well to start it’s hard to say the Rams need McLeod back at Safety. Even their third Safety Cody Davis has played well too. At Cornerback the Rams aren’t elite by any means but CB Trumaine Johnson and CB E.J. Gaines certainly looked like it yesterday.
Hasn’t that been the key ingredient all along? Actually, no what have the Rams been missing then? Well I will tell you right now the Rams are really feeling the effects of starting an extremely athletic former Outside linebacker and college Safety at Middle linebacker, Alec Ogletree. His speed, pursuit and his ability to call a defense have really made everyone forget about former starter James Laurinaitis. Ogletree and Barron have been a lethal combination at linebacker and it only gets scarier when the Rams can throw in their sixth-round rookie Josh Forrest and receive solid play out of him as well.
So the obvious element to the Rams 3-1 start is their defense but, how has the offense played? Not so great but that lies on the lack of protection and run blocking by the offensive line. QB Case Keenum hasn’t been amazing by any means but, at some point the offensive line has to protect better than what they are doing right now. Many in the media believe the Rams are pretenders because they have no offense and while that is fair. The Rams are winning these tough close games early in the season. They are only going to get better on offense.
Bear in mind their WR’s Pharoh Cooper and Nelson Spruce were out even after a week of full participation in practice. Todd Gurley is much too talented to not get something going soon and the Offensive line is still trying to gel. At some point the Rams offense is going to click and that’s going to be the biggest problem for their NFC West foes and even just their NFC foes in general. The Rams are already proving now they can win games on the road whether they score 37 and give up 32 or score 17 and give up only 13. It really doesn’t matter.
Keenum just had a game where he threw for 266 yards (30 or so yards were negated due to Greg Robinson penalties), two touchdowns and zero interceptions. WR Brian Quick, TE Lance Kendricks and WR Kenny Britt all gave Keenum viable options throughout the game to succeed. That was also against the likes of FS Tyrann Mathieu, CB Patrick Peterson, CB Marcus Cooper, SS Tony Jefferson and S Tyvon Branch. This is considered one of the better secondaries in the league and Keenum out played them. On top of that it was without a hefty running game out of Todd Gurley who was unable to break anything all game.
I am not the biggest fan of Keenum and at times I do still think he remains a liability but if he records that stat-line weekly and the Rams defense continues to shut it down at the end of games, the Rams will have a great season. So now coming off this win going 3-1 who do they play next? Well, this week they head back home to play the Buffalo Bills, go down to Detroit to play the Lions and after that go off to London to play the New York Giants. After all that they welcome a bye week and after the bye week they only have to play on the road four times. That’s huge as it stands the Rams will spend the majority of their second half of the season in L.A. in one of the best home-field advantages in football.
Whether you are a believer in these Rams or a doubter it’s a very uplifting time to be a Rams fan and with many moving pieces the Rams could end up stealing this division, the same division no one picked them to win.