The Rams lost a heart-breaker in week six to drop to 3-3 on the young season. With ten games left to go, the Rams desperately need a win in London next week versus the N.Y. Giants. However, lets get right into my takeaways from the Rams loss to the Lions.
Case Keenum might have sealed his starting job for the rest of the year
What can I say? I feel bad how hard I was on poor Case Keenum. He was absolutely incredible! Keenum looked like he was back at Houston when he shattered passing records back in college. Keenum finished with 27/32, 321 passing yards, three touchdowns including another touchdown he added via the ground. Keenum was part of one of the most impressive offensive performances I’ve seen in a long time. Unfortunately however, all good things must come to an end. Keenum won’t be remembered for his record breaking 19 straight completions or his four total touchdowns or his over 300 yard game or even the fact he had an adjusted completion percentage of 90 which would have broke Kurt Warner’s record. No, instead Keenum will be remembered for throwing the interception that costed the Rams the game in the late going.
I have not been on the Keenum train like some but I will say now how extremely unfair it is to get on Keenum and say he lost the Rams the game. No, when you score 28 points and Keenum is responsible for every point on the board besides the four extra points. You have to bite the bullet and look for someone else to blame it on because Keenum certainly doesn’t deserve the blame. Bad pass? Absolutely! However, he was incredible, and if he continues to play like this the Rams could be on their way to a big season (assuming the defense learns how to stop an offense).
The fourth-and-goal play call was spot on, Gurley just didn’t execute it
Another thing I’ve seen a lot of is that the Offensive line blew a chance at a touchdown for Todd Gurley. Hold on a second! For the record Gurley completely ran the wrong way. I am not a Gurley “hater” by any means as he is one of my favorites to watch but, he is struggling mightily and he often misses holes. In this play he completely ran into the stone wall of Lions waiting for him on the right side. Why? Well for starters the Lions had the right side overloaded and the Rams actually combated that well or rather Offensive coordinator Rob Boras combated it well. Boras called a ballsy run play to the left with RG Jamon Brown executing a pull block to guide Gurley into the end zone.
Everything went completely according to plan but clearly Gurley wasn’t aware of what to do and he completely missed the pull Brown had set. It wasn’t the O-line who would have had him in the end zone had he run to the left side. No, it was Gurley failing to either understand the play or read his blocks.
You can see above Gurley has already decided to try to truck through the wall the Lions created on the right however, on the left side had he cut it like he was supposed to FB Cory Harkey who was the lead blocker seals off the right side you can see RG Jamon Brown right to the left of Gurley fulfilling is obligation as the pull blocker and Gurley is 100 percent supposed to follow Brown for an easy touchdown.
Kenny Britt is a number one WR
I have been saying it awhile now, Kenny Britt is extremely talented and is in for a great year with the Rams. He is by far the best WR on the roster and it’s not even close. What Britt can do is fantastic. The way Britt is able to box out corners, high point the ball, beat anyone off the line and have sure hands makes him the absolute best on the Rams. Britt has developed a serious connection with QB Case Keenum and it could only mean that Britt is in for a possible Pro Bowl type season.
Britt finished with seven catches on eight targets that went for 136 yards (the first 100+ yard receiving game since Kenny Britt did it week three versus Pittsburgh last year). Britt also added two touchdowns to that impressive box score. Britt has now tallied 492 yards receiving going into week seven which he only had 224 last year through the first six games. Britt is on a tear and if Boras continues this play-calling and Keenum continues this kind of passing Britt could turn in a career year in L.A.
OC Rob Boras needs to keep up his surprisingly creative play-calling
I and I’m sure the rest of the Rams faithful were confused when they saw a Rams offense led by Case Keenum marching down the field at will completing long and awe-inspiring drives. Three out of all four scoring drives were ten plays or more which is impressive. For awhile now it seemed the Rams couldn’t keep a drive going and would throw the defense back on the field almost instantaneously. This game was a complete flip-flop. Rob Boras absolutely out-coached defensive coordinator Gregg Williams for the Rams and it became noticeable when the defense was unable to hold the Lions under 28 points causing the Rams to lose.
I have been calling for new Passing game coordinator Mike Groh to get more involved with the play-calling and whether he did or didn’t if Boras calls this type of offense the rest of the year the Rams might actually end up finishing among top-15 in total offense.
The Rams miss Trumaine Johnson & Robert Quinn a lot
If it wasn’t obvious watching Troy Hill consistently get burned and the Rams failing to force the big turnover on the edge. The Rams miss Johnson and Quinn and it’s staggering. Quinn almost seems to guarantee the big strip sack late in the game with the way he gets off the edge and Johnson’s 6-foot-2 size and his ability to play physical is clearly being missed. Johnson absolutely dominated Calvin Johnson last year versus the Lions and probably would have done the same but instead probably would have picked off Stafford.
Hopefully Johnson comes back after the bye and Quinn comes back next week because it’s about to get tough at 3-3 and if the Rams continue to be unable to create turnovers.
DC Gregg Williams needs to tone down his defensive aggression
While the injuries have been a key loss to this defense, the one thing that continues to destroy this defense? This defense. That’s right Williams play-calling is becoming reckless and quite honestly stupid. Anyone with any knowledge of football knows that if you blitz someone and he doesn’t get through to break up the pass, then you are looking at an open guy somewhere on the field. Stafford is too good of a QB to fall for that.
Seriously though, Williams high octane defense is ruining the elite defensive front. Watch a Rams game and you will see Williams showing blitz from Safeties and CB’s alike. Well occasionally blitzes can stunt a drive and really screw up a QB’s timing if done on occasion of course. However, Williams doesn’t do them on occasion. His reckless blitzing is starting to make it too easy for offenses to game plan around it. Now instead of the defensive line getting pressure the QBs and OC sees the blitz every play and thus only has to call quick slants and dump offs to take advantage of an over-pursuing defense. It needs to stop because the ultra-aggressive play-calling is leading to allowing long tiresome drives and neutralizing the best part about the Rams, the defensive line. Here are Williams blitzing stats per Pro Football Focus and how they stack up against the entire league.
LB Alec Ogletree 42 blitzes, 8th out of all LB’s in the NFL (efficiency rating of 60.0 which is 31st ovr)
LB Mark Barron 47 blitzes, 4th out of all LB’s in the NFL (efficiency rating of 46.6 which is 63rd ovr)
CB LaMarcus Joyner, 14 blitzes, 1st out of all CB’s in the NFL (efficiency rating of 61.2 which is 13th ovr)
S T.J. McDonald 40 blitzes, 1st out of all S’s in the NFL (efficiency rating of 51.9 which is 17th ovr)
S Mo Alexander 30 blitzes, 2nd out of all S’s in the NFL (efficiency rating of 69.2 which is 3rd ovr)
There it is guys, Williams is too aggressive and the proof is right above.
The referees need to be consistent with their flags
This is starting to get ridiculous to be honest. I get that refs aren’t perfect but bear in mind the flag they called on Mo Alexander was ludicrous. Third-and-12 at the L.A. 48-yard line the Rams get a stop and the Lions would have ultimately had to punt even down 28-21. However, the referee threw the flag for Alexander’s pass breakup on WR Marvin Jones, calling it to be pass interference. That ended up aiding their drive and carried them into the end zone for the game-tying touchdown.
Later on a 3rd-and-five play at the L.A. 35-yard line with just over five minutes to play and CB Darius Slay is all over Kenny Britt but the refs don’t call it and it forces the Rams to punt and ultimately give up a field-goal to lose the game.
Obviously if it wasn’t realized before, the Rams need to knock off the N.Y. Giants this Sunday in London cause a 3-game losing streak and 3-4 isn’t going to be good for their playoff hopes.