The Rams failed to hold on against the Buccaneers and lost 13-16. Both teams desperately needed a win, with this loss ending the Rams’ win streak against Brady as a Buccaneer. Next week they’ll have the Cardinals at home who just lost to the Seahawks. There’s a lot that needs to be changed about this team so let’s break down what was good, bad, and meh about this disappointing loss.
Cooper Kupp continued his dominance over the Buccaneers with over 100 yards and a touchdown. Kupp has singlehandedly carried the Rams offensively this year with 42 percent of the passing yards and 33 percent of the targets the highest totals in the league. His best play of the day came on a 69-yard bomb resulting in a touchdown. It’s pretty amazing that even though everyone knows who the ball is going to, Kupp still finds a way to break down coverages and get open.
The defense has not been the problem this year. There wasn’t much good this game, but you have to give the defense credit for holding Brady and the Bucs out of the end zone until the final drive. The unit as a whole is performing pretty well allowing the 5th least yards to their opponents. It’s only when they’re asked to carry the game because the offense can’t score that there becomes a problem. Bobby Wagner did a great job against the Buccaneers notching the most tackles on the team and even blocking a field goal attempt. Jalen Ramsey was his usual self and was solid guarding Evans most of the game. Terrell Lewis also had a good game putting the pressure on Tom Brady. The defense has held up well and has been somewhat of a bright spot despite the recent losses.
Getting Troy Hill back for this defense was pretty big. The biggest weakness on defense has been the inconsistency and inexperience in the secondary. The off coverage and “bend not break” defense is a result of this which forces the veterans to pick up the slack left by the rookies. Hill does a great job in coverage and uses his veteran knowledge to make plays. He may not be the best corner, but he’s a solid option aside from Ramsey.
I don’t think I’ve seen a lineman perform this badly since Kansas City in the Super Bowl. Evans was quite literally a revolving door at guard letting the pressure get to Stafford. He was outmatched all game no matter who lined up against him and let Vita Vea run through him. Evans gave up three sacks on the day, yet again showing that the Rams’ weakness is up front. Evans has never been a good lineman and I’m surprised the staff went with him over Aboushi or anyone else. David Edwards isn’t great, but he’s much better than Evans.
Something needs to be done about the soft zone coverage the Rams have been playing. The defense has done a decent job holding opponents to minimal points this year, posting the fifth least yards allowed and the 17th least points per game counting defensive touchdowns. In concept it’s a pretty solid idea, to lessen the chance that inexperienced players get beat over the top, but that shouldn’t always be the case. On the final drive, Brady took advantage of the fact that his receivers could catch and run the ball, as has been the case all year. Players like Deebo and CMC have been able to thrive against this defense because they give up the easy slant route. Brady took a lot of short to intermediate routes and comeback routes on the final drive due to the fact that his receivers weren’t man-to-man with a Rams DB.
If you look at some of the big plays the defense has given up, it’s most likely due to miscommunication or mental error. Jalen Ramsey is the only consistent player on the back end which isn’t exactly what you want out of your secondary. The reason you usually see him all over the field making tackles is that no one else is versatile enough, forcing Ramsey to be the swiss army knife on defense.
It doesn’t look like Jefferson is ready to get back in there just yet. After a quiet week, many expected him to pick up where he left off last year but that was hardly the case against Tampa. Jefferson failed to catch a ball for the second straight week despite being targeted second most on the team. On his first meaningful target he dropped a deep throw that could have gotten the offense going early. The offense really needs a player like Van Jefferson back and I hope he can go back to his old ways soon.
Sean McVay’s playcalling has been very questionable in recent weeks and this game was no different. It’s pretty frustrating to see the offense run on third downs when they couldn’t do that on first and second to begin with. For some reason McVay feels the need to be over conservative instead of trying to be more aggressive to put points on the board. Despite Henderson doing pretty well on a drive, he was subbed out for the offense to pass instead. The questionable decisions usually lead to three and outs by the offense. It’s pretty telling what the staff thinks of Stafford at this point that they’d rather try and run the clock down than put the ball in his hands. There hasn’t been much of that 4th quarter magic from last year, with Stafford not getting the opportunities to do so in the first place.
The run game against the Buccaneers was decent but looked improved compared to other weeks. It wasn’t exactly game-breaking, with Henderson averaging 4.7 yards a carry. The run game has been abysmal all year, but it seems to be slightly improving, as I’m glad McVay finally realized Henderson is his best back. Sunday was his highest recorded rushing yards all year, so it will be interesting to see what the split is when Kyren Williams gets thrown into the mix as well. The overall rushing attack isn’t great, but I see some signs that McVay is trying to improve it.