Following last week’s narrow victory over the Cardinals, the Rams went on the road to play their divisional rivals in the regular season finale. The Rams lost 24-9 in an underwhelming offensive performance, failing to get into the endzone the entire game. The Rams will now travel back home for three back-to-back home games, including playing the 49ers soon in Week 8 after the bye week. The Rams are going to have to get into a better rhythm if they want any chance of winning the west this year, and they’ve got a couple of get-right games coming up on the schedule. Let’s break down the negatives and more importantly the positives from a disappointing divisional loss.
Bobby Wagner is having a good under-the-radar season for the Rams so far. Wagner has notched at least seven tackles in every single game this year and has done a solid job in the middle of the field. Wagner is one of the main reasons why the Rams have been so good against the run and it showed against the Niners. He’s been versatile and most importantly, someone offenses know not to pick on.
This is yet another one of those games that Tyler Higbee shines in. Higbee has been a safety blanket for any quarterback throwing to him, and consistently gashes the defense in the short passing game. He had the second-most targets for the Rams this game, nearly triple the amount the next closest receiver had. With season highs in yardage and catches, Higbee will need to be involved more in the quick game with a bad offensive line.
A major weak point of the defense in the past few games has been the secondary. Troy Hill, David Long, and Cobie Durant are all injured, forcing some inexperienced guys to start in their place. Raheem Morris played a ton of soft zone the past couple of weeks which makes it easy for players like Deebo Samuel to catch and run for big gains. Soft zone allows for the inexperienced guys to not get beat or picked on individually, but asks more of the veterans like Ramsey. I’d like to see more man or press coverage to challenge opposing teams at the line more, then switch it to a soft zone later.
The offensive line had a horrendous game, surrendering seven sacks to the 49ers, the same amount that the Bills had against the starters. You’ve got to cut some slack however to a group of backups that lack experience. The team has recently picked up some free agents and elevated others from the practice squad so it will be interesting to see what combination they go with, especially if Coleman Shelton misses time. For the offensive line to gel better, the starters need more reps whether that be in practice or next week against the Cowboys.
Matthew Stafford never had a good run game in Detroit and it’s not looking like he’ll have one with the Rams as well. The Rams added back a familiar face in Malcolm Brown to reunite the 2020 backfield. Akers and Henderson haven’t been impressive at all this season likely because of the offensive line. All of the backs need to find a way to be schemed for longer runs than 10 yards. It’s a very ambiguous backfield with no strong performances from anyone, so someone needs to step up. I wouldn’t be surprised to see the Rams make a move for a back or lineman before the deadline.
Matthew Stafford might be the definition of meh. It seems as if every one of three throws is super bowl caliber and the other two are either questionable or average. This was his second straight week without a passing touchdown as well as having a lower QBR than Jimmy G which should tell you something. One of the worst parts about his play is the turnovers, which put the Rams in holes he can’t climb back out of. Stafford looked serviceable while the offense was running up-tempo type plays due to the subpar offensive line play. Ironically, Jared Goff is doing wonders in Detroit leading an efficient offense, but that’s a conversation for another day.