As the sun rises on a gloomy Monday morning many Rams fans are waking up from the nightmare that was Super Bowl 53. Just pure shock and disbelief after the performance that the Rams put forth Sunday Night. I understand now why Garfield hates Mondays…. Let’s dive into what went wrong for the Rams during Super Bowl 53.
No answer for Edelman:
The Patriots playoff super weapon finished with 10 catches for 141 yards against the Rams in Super Bowl 53. Seemed like nothing the Rams could formulate could stop Brady from finding his favorite weapon in the passing game. Wade Phillips put forth an amazing defensive game plan to stop the Patriots. Almost neutralizing their running backs from getting easy first downs and back-field catches. Yet Edelman was kryptonite to Phillips perfect game-plan. Edelman time and time again found the soft spots in the zone defense that the Rams were playing. Even with Rams linebacker Cory Littleton playing lights out during this game the Patriots would try and attack wherever he wasn’t. No one on the Rams defense could match-up against him and they suffered because of it.
Gurley returned from an injury earlier this season as a shadow of his former self. Coach McVay insisted that he was perfectly healthy for the Super Bowl and was in store for a workhorse role. Turned out that the 2017 Offensive Player of the Year and 2018 MVP candidate was reduced to touching the ball just 11 times for 34 minuscule yards. We know that Gurley is a legitimate double-threat whenever he’s in peak form. Yet Rams fans haven’t seen that from him since early December and many fans are wondering if he was healthy during the Super Bowl. We heard during the game that he was on the bike, stretching, and doing everything he could for that knee. Drawing the biggest concern to everyone watching that he was in fact not fully healthy. On top of all of that during the final Rams exit interviews Todd Gurley has declined to speak through a PR person. Only adding more speculation to his lack of usage and health during this Super Bowl run.
Goff and O-Line’s struggles:
So much of the offensive struggles can be put upon the performance of Jared Goff and his O-Line. Jared Goff had dropped back 44 times in Super Bowl 53 and was pressured 21 times per PFF, a percentage of 48 percent. Four sacks, five hits and 12 hurries. Almost half of his drop backs he was under pressure and there is no excuse for having that kind of dysfunction in the biggest stage in sports. Especially considering the Rams offensive line just won O-Line of the year just a few days prior. Most of the pressure from the Pats came up the middle, in the same way Chicago and Philly did in the Rams losses. Both Sullivan and Blythe gave up a combined 10 pressures while Saffold allowed one himself. Goff was also credited for three as he did no favors by holding onto the ball too long on many occasions. Speaking of Goff, he managed a measly 57.9 passer rating in a losing effort in Super Bowl 53. He constantly put the Rams in the worst positions and made many mistakes in one of his worst performances yet. Goff reacted and released at a turtle’s speed rate, especially when he had Cooks wide-open in the end zone later in the third quarter. Later in that same drive he failed to progress to his second read in the face of Pat’s defenders and couldn’t find the open receiver. Goff then took a nine-yard sack that almost cost them a chance at a field goal. In the 4th quarter he threw a beautiful pass to Cooks that ended up being dropped. The next play he responded by throwing off his back foot and floating the ball right into the hands of Patriots cornerback Stephon Gilmore. All but ending the Rams chances at a comeback against the Patriots. Goff clearly showed his lack of awareness on a global stage and gave proof to the term “Experience Matters’. The Patriots gave everything they had against the Rams and made Goff read the field while under pressure which he has seemed to struggle with at times. Hopefully we can see improvement from the young 24-year-old QB as he heads into year 4 of his NFL Career and lead this team to another Super Bowl appearance.
Cooks can’t hold on:
While the rest of the team had its struggles, Cooks was a solid threat in the passing games when targeted. He went for 8 catches for 120 yards and would have had more if it wasn’t for a late throw by
Goff and a questionable drop later in the 2nd half. During that questionable drop there was a subtle grab by Stephon Gilmore to Cook’s left arm. By the letter of the law, that is a flag. It’s not a blatant PI that catches big attention to the casual fan, but it prevents Cooks from getting his inside arm to get around the ball fast enough. If this would have been called by the Refs during the game, we would have seen the Rams lined up at the goal line with a chance to tie up the game. Cooks gave everything he had but ultimately it wasn’t enough as the Rams offense was not on the same page.
McVay Shoulders Blame:
McVay shouldered the blame and doubled down on Gurley’s status. “I just never enabled us to get into a rhythm offensively,” McVay explained. “You know we didn’t have any really third down conversions really the whole first half. They did a good job, and it seemed that anytime we got a little bit of a positive play then we’d end up having a penalty or move ourselves back. So, I think a lot of it is a result of some of the things they did but then also the play selection. I was not pleased at all with my feel for the flow of the game and kind of making some adjustments as the game unfolded and with giving ourselves a chance at some success and put some points on the board. Credit to them, they did a good job, and I certainly didn’t do enough for us.”
Many Rams fans applaud the way McVay shoulders the blame and takes ownership for his mistakes. Yet here is something for everyone to think about heading into next season and maybe further. How many times will he take the blame for his lack of in-game adjustments before they are just excuses? This isn’t neglect for what he has done in his 2 years with the Rams but a thought to consider as we continue into year 3 and his growth going forward. McVay was outcoached and unprepared offensively for this match-up against the Super Bowl and it showed. For Example, Patriots Head Coach Belichick modified his defense to counter LA’s strength by playing more zone coverage. Yet McVay didn’t adjust his offense to attack NE weaknesses and remained mostly in an 11-man personal most of the game. The Patriots were outstanding at defending 11 personnel passes all throughout the NFL season. LA happened to throw the most 11 personnel passes heading into the Super Bowl. Surprisingly enough the Rams are more efficient passing from 12 personnel. The Patriots were ranked #3 vs 11 personnel yet #26 vs 12 personal sets this year. This flaw in failing to attack more from 12 personnel by McVay likely cost the Rams the game. But there were other many other problems with the Rams offensive game plan. Not all this blame can be placed on his shoulders but failing to make in-game adjustments has been McVay’s biggest flaw and it has shown in every one of the Rams losses. Could this be a downfall of his ego/competitiveness when he calls plays? He does everything right but when the original plan isn’t working, we see him struggle at times. In my opinion he will find a way to fix all these concerns and problems in the off-season because he is a creature of perfection. He will never rest until he makes it up to his players and the fans of LA.
Plenty of takeaways can be made from this performance by the Rams in Super Bowl 53 and many of these players will live throughout the off-season with that taste of defeat in their mouths. Players like Donald and Goff will be more than determined to get back to the big stage and prove that they are ready to seize the Lombardi. This time around failure will not be an option as they now know what the big stage feels like. To help put this in perspective, a few great men once said this about the trials of failure:
“Failure is simply an opportunity to begin again, this time more intelligently.” – Henry Ford
“Failure is success if we learn from it” – Malcolm Forbes
McVay will have the opportunity to start a new season again and this time he will be more intelligent in how he makes his adjustments and prepare for each week. He and every player on that team will learn from the failure of losing the Super Bowl and they will be ready to succeed in 2019. Get ready LA Rams fans, the off-season is about to begin, and our Rams are already working for that next opportunity at redemption.