I wanted to give it a few days before posting a response to the Week 4 55-40 loss to the Tampa Buccaneers at home. Typically, I will keep a notepad in front of me during the game to jot down observations and trends as the game plays out; last week was an exercise in repetition: issues with O-Line, complete lack of a running game, and Goff reacting to pressure. Most who have watched the Rams get off to a 3-0 start saw some inadequacies that could make you worry. However, we escaped the first three games of the season without any notation in the loss column, so fans generally focused on the positives. A Week 4 home game with Tampa Bay flying across country coming off a blown 18-point lead vs. ‘Danny Dimes’ and the New York Giants seemed like an easy W for the defending NFC Champions. The spread was one of the highest for Week 4 (Rams -9) and many of us were just expecting the offense to get back on track against an inferior opponent as we prepare for a stretch of games against divisional opponents. And that is where this game was lost.
Bruce Arians: Trap Queen.
Admittedly, I saw this game as a win. Not as an easy win, but as a win going into kick-off. Tampa Bay marched down field on the opening drive and scored with Taylor Rapp getting beat inside by Chris Godwin. Fair enough. The Rams first drive had two penalties against the offensive line. This would be one of the re-occurring themes of this with Andrew Whitworth flagged twice for holding, Rob Havenstein called twice for false starts, and Austin Blythe being flagged for a false start. Bryce Hager was injured early on and replaced by rookie Troy Reeder at ILB. Taylor Rapp suffered an ankle injury during the third quarter. We’ve seen games like this every season where a heavy favorited is caught off guard, everything goes wrong, and turnovers/penalties seem to keep the team from ever getting back on track. Last year, the Buffalo Bills beat the Minnesota Vikings team after being 17-point underdogs. It happens. Coincidently, that was also early in the season where we are still finding out which teams are legit.
Genuine Concern or Overreaction?
Rams fans are truly divided on what actually happened against the Bucs. Are there real issues with this year Offensive Line? (i.e. Havenstein regression, Whitworth showing age) Is Goff truly a system QB who can only function when the run game is successful? Is Todd Gurley really done at 25 and relegated to be a middle of the road RB? After one loss, those questions can be deemed an overreaction. However, if they pop their ugly little head into tonight’s game vs. Seattle, then we have real cause for concern.
Tonight, is a statement game for the 2019-2020 LA Rams. You hate to see them so early in the season, but here we are. A team cannot make a real playoff run with the 32nd ranked Offensive line, according to PFF. This offense cannot truly succeed without a run game to support the play action-pass. Jared Goff CANNOT throw the ball for 45+ times per game and expect to be a top 10 QB like he was last season.
Based on very reliable sources and emoji’s on Darrell Henderson’s IG page (@darrellh_8), I expect Henderson to make his real debut Thursday night. His big play making ability and fresh legs are exactly what an offense struggling to run the ball could use. McVay will likely come out of the gate overcompensating for last week, so expect a lot of runs early. Defensively, I believe Eric Weddle when he says that they will not play like they did last week. Injuries to Taylor Rapp and Bryce Hager definitely hurt, but let’s hope Troy Reeder and Marqui Christian can step up. If not, Natrez Patrick would be fun to see get playing time outside of Special Teams. Also, look for Greg Gaines to dress after Sebastian Joseph-Day’s performance in Week 4.
B $tan’s Smart Bet’s
Under 49 ***HAMMER***
Darrell Henderson TD: +1100
Robert Woods TD + Rams Win: +425