This game was a real stinker for the Rams, at least on one side of the ball. The offense scored a touchdown on the first drive and went 65 yards on a 12-play drive that went over seven minutes long. You wouldn’t have expected this game to end up a 17-9 affair but sadly that drive was pretty much the end of the Rams forcing their way and carving up the Giants defense. Here are my takeaways from a game that was more boring than exciting…
1. The Rams felt the effects of traveling back-and-forth between the west coast and east coast from weeks two and three.
Sean McVay and the Rams seemed to be ready for this game from the get-go when the Rams defense forced a three-and-out of the Giants and followed that up with the aforementioned seven-minute touchdown drive. However, after that, the offense didn’t play its brand of football and all in all, the Rams seemed to be sluggish most of the way. It’s not to say this team didn’t play hard and fight for the win but this didn’t look like the same team that we saw in the second half of the Bills game or the Eagles game. This team was feeling the lingering effects of traveling west coast-to-east coast in back-to-back weeks. Keep in mind, the NFL scheduled these games as a favor so the Rams could stay on the east coast and make a trip there and a trip back. However, due to COVID-19, the Rams were unable to stay out there and had to come back home and make another trip.
When you see the execution of the Rams not going the way you are used to, it begs the question of how much travel hurt this team today. I would say it had an impact. I wouldn’t make the excuse if they lost the game outright but for a sloppy performance than used to? Yeah, travel exhaustion could have been a factor.
2. That Rams pass rush stepped up and carved themselves out a good game when they needed to.
Five sacks today on Daniel Jones was a huge step in the right direction for Brandon Staley’s defense. Samson Ebukam bounced back big this week a few really impressive stops and a half-sack he split with Aaron Donald. Michael Brockers, Ogbonnia Okoronkwo, Justin Hollins, and Morgan Fox added on the other four. Now, let’s understand that this offensive line has struggled in general this season but it’s still at the very least encouraging to be generating that much pressure on the quarterback after the last few weeks when it looked like it was Aaron Donald or nothing.
It was great to also see the pressure coming from Jachai Polite and Okoronkwo in this game. Those two I have been clamoring for to get more opportunities over Ebukam. To be entirely honest, everyone in that unit stepped up and today was the day for that.
Also? How about that pickup of Justin Hollins. I certainly didn’t want him to be a Ram or anything…
— DOWNTOWN RAMS [DTR] (@DowntownRams) September 6, 2020
This pickup doesn’t get enough credit. pic.twitter.com/MUqAjwNc9c
— DOWNTOWN RAMS [DTR] (@DowntownRams) October 5, 2020
3. Sean McVay went away from the Los Angeles Rams’ brand of offense and it stung.
Many laughed when McVay was quoted on how he had a hard time game-planning for this Giants defense. I was trying to explain to a few people that it wasn’t coach-speak, it was a legitimate thing he was worried about because the Giants defense is actually good and have done enough to have this team at 2-2 right now. First off, the Giants secondary did a nice job shutting down the receivers, second, the Rams abandoned the run and third the Rams abandoned their two key components: play-action and jet-motion. The Rams surprisingly didn’t use their jet motion as much in this game and didn’t work the intermediate to deep levels of the field off of play-action. Why? Because the Rams didn’t establish the run so it would have gotten zero attention from the Giants defense.
McVay went away from what the Rams normally do on offense and because of this, the Rams found themselves in a tighter game than it ever should have been. I get that James Bradberry, Logan Ryan, and Isaac Yiadom are very good corners but you cannot force bubble-screens and slip-screens all game long and allow these linebackers to run downhill and thump you the way they did today. The play-calling today reminded me of the Super Bowl and how I felt like McVay went away from everything that made their offense ferocious to this point.
Ted’s Film Room: The next iteration of Sean McVay’s offense
How new tweaks, new plays, and building on old concepts helped propel the Rams offense to the number one team in offensive DVOA through three weeks.
— Ted Nguyen (@FB_FilmAnalysis) September 30, 2020
4. Brandon Staley’s defense isn’t perfect but was impressive in a game where they were on the field nearly seven minutes more than the Giants defense was.
Look, we can nitpick about the Rams giving up over 100 rushing yards to the Giants team but once again, Brandon Staley’s guys held a team’s leading rusher to under 100 yards. We saw it with Ezekiel Elliott, Miles Sanders, and Devin Singletary but here they were doing it again. This defense has been disciplined this season and has been a true bend don’t break. To only give up nine points in this game with the offense having a horrid game was just phenomenal. The Rams needed all hands on deck to win this one and they got it.
— Los Angeles Rams (@RamsNFL) October 4, 2020
5. Jordan Fuller means more to the defense than anyone would have expected out of a sixth-rounder.
Not having Fuller the last two games has shown me that the Rams need Jordan Fuller back. On fourth-down or third-and-long plays, Fuller has done a great job to click and close. Without him being there for the Rams the last two weeks we’ve seen Terrell Burgess slip last week and Taylor Rapp struggle mightily to fill his role. Fuller offers a high-motor and tenacity that isn’t seen from the safeties to tell you the truth. Not even John Johnson III plays with the fire I’ve seen from Fuller. It might be shocking but not having Fuller today was a big deal and the Rams hung on but they will want him back after giving up 19 first downs to the Giants offense.
If you read last week’s 10 takeaways piece from me, well you aren’t going crazy I said the same thing last week:
7. Jordan Fuller is a 6th-Round Rookie that has been a gem for the Rams and everyone just found out how important he is on the field following his injury that kept him out of the rest of the game.
“Jordan Fuller left the game early on in with a shoulder injury. Once Fuller came off the field and Taylor Rapp came on, I found myself instantly worried about the coverage skill drop-off. Fuller has been one of the best pure tacklers on the Rams and a playmaker. Unfortunately for Fuller, the injury might keep him out an extended amount of time since he was unable to come back to the field in a game that the Rams needed him in.
You can look at it multiple ways but let’s look at the positive here. Jordan Fuller is a valuable asset as a sixth-rounder and in the third game of his rookie season. That’s the beauty of this and it speaks volumes that the Rams made the right move snagging him when they did.”
6. I was wrong. We were so wrong. The Giants didn’t get eviscerated like we all thought. They were outplaying the Rams at one point in this game.
Luckily for the Rams this didn’t have a Prometheus type of ending…
I know what you are thinking. “Jake, I listened to your podcast and you lied to me. Everything you said from the Rams winning 45-10 to Jared Goff throwing six touchdowns. You lied and my fantasy team died.” Well, for that, I’m sorry. Let’s just keep in mind that no one again thought this was the game we were going to see. At least the Rams came away with a win in a game that they only scored 17 points in. Silver linings are the key here. You are going to have these games in the NFL but again, points don’t matter…Wins matter. Points are fun but wins are more fun. This isn’t college football, this isn’t about strength of victory, it doesn’t do anything because unlike college, rankings in the NFL don’t matter. Go get the win and you will move forward and that’s exactly what the Rams did.
With that being said, don’t you think for a second I wasn’t aggravated about only scoring 17 points.
7. This uniform set is the best in sports and I won’t take no for an answer.
I think these are the best uniforms in sports right now. Nothing pops the way these do. I’m biased but I don’t care these blue and yellow’s need to be worn anytime the Rams want to wear the blue jerseys. Abolish the blue pants. Okay…Back to football.
8. Through four games the Rams look like a better road team?
Alright, folks, I hate to say this but we are a quarter of the way through the season and the Rams appear to play better when they aren’t at SoFi. I’m half kidding because it’s such a small sample size but here’s the statistical breakdown that proves my obnoxious point.
Points Scored: 37
Points Allowed: 26
1st Downs: 38
1st Downs Allowed: 43
3rd Down Conversions: 14-30
3rd Down Conversions Allowed: 7-25
4th Downs: 2-2
4th Downs Allowed: 2-4
Total Yards: 662
Total Yards Allowed: 675
Points Scored: 69
Points Allowed: 54
1st Downs: 58
1st Downs Allowed: 48
3rd Down Conversions: 13-22
3rd Down Conversions Allowed: 12-22
4th Downs: 1-2
4th Downs Allowed: 1-2
Total Yards: 927
Total Yards Allowed: 738
It does at the very least appear interesting that the Rams offense likes the road more so far.
9. This game didn’t change my opinion as a whole on the Rams and I still believe they are one of the best teams in football.
I know some will disagree and overreact and that’s fine. However, it’s the NFL, these random “stinkers” are going to happen at least once a year to good teams. The Chiefs look like the best team in football but let us not forget how they had to go to OT and hit a 58-yard game-winning field goal to beat the 1-3 Los Angeles Chargers. Every good team has their test against a random team on the schedule they are expected to beat. Let’s just hope this is the only one the Rams have. Until then, this game didn’t move them up or down in my power rankings.
10. I’m ready to see rookie outside linebacker Terrell Lewis in action as well as rookie tight end Brycen Hopkins.
When you have games like the past few where the Rams had no problem scoring and received production from everyone it’s hard to blame that said team for not playing someone. However, the Rams didn’t receive a ton of contribution out of Tyler Higbee in this game, Gerald Everett scored but then fumbled on the following drive and Johnny Mundt even had a snare in there. To me, it’s time to start activating rookie fourth-round pick, Brycen Hopkins. Give that man a chance, he was my top tight end in the draft and I think he deserves to get some on-field action this season. He’s likely the future after Everett this year, don’t waste his time this year by just leaving him on the bench.
As for Terrell Lewis, it’s a little different with him because he’s being activated off of the Non-Football Injury list but even still, I’m dying to see the Rams third-round pick out of Alabama line up off the edge as a pass rusher. There’s no doubt what Lewis can do on the field but when he returns to the field he has to make sure he stays on it.
Purdue TE Brycen Hopkins does a great job selling run then makes a nice catch through traffic. pic.twitter.com/SCqNfLag5N
— Bobby Football (@RobPaulNFL) November 23, 2019