LA Rams discovering that weakest link dictates outcome

Mandatory Credit: Robert Hanashiro-USA TODAY Sports
Mandatory Credit: Robert Hanashiro-USA TODAY Sports /
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LA Rams
Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports /

Rams abandon the run

This one baffles me. The Rams have passed the ball 509 times this season, and rushed 414 times.  But in the five losses, the Rams have passed the ball 196 times and rushed the ball 127 times.  And if you toss out the 32 passes and 32 rushes in the loss to the Buffalo Bills, the Rams  passed the balled 164 times and rushed the ball 95 times in their losses. That makes some sense, right? After all, falling behind usually forces the opposing team to abandon their running game.

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But in each of the Rams losses, the opposing defense was not stopping the run. If the truth be told, the Rams simply stopped running the ball.  And the reason we pulled the Buffalo Bills game out of that analysis is that in the Bills game, the Rams stuck to the running game even though falling far behind. The result was that the Rams put up 29 second half points. Now how did they do it?

Henderson ran, Goff passed

The Buffalo Bills game should be a template of how the Rams can manage these ugly games. In that one, the Rams came back from a 28-3 deficit by rushing Henderson for 14 yards. Then a pass to tight end Higbee for seven yards. Then another seven yard burst by Henderson. Then a 20 yard completion to Cooper Kupp. Next, an 18-yard completion to tight end Gerald Everett. Then a six yard run up the middle by Malcolm Brown. Finally, a quarterback sneak for one-yard and the touchdown.  Wash rinse repeat.

If you demand that LA Rams quarterback Jared Goff ‘plays better’, then perhaps you are missing the point of this article. No quarterback can throw a completion with a defender in his face. Great quarterback play needs great blocking, great receivers, and a solid running game. Until this Rams team is confident enough to commit to the running game like they did against the New England Patriots, they will continue to lose games to inferior teams.

Who are you, Rams offense?

Cam Akers rushed 29 times against the New England Patriots for 171 yards. He carried the ball 15 times against the New York Jets 15 times for 63 yards. But he had over 40 yards and a touchdown negated by three offensive penalties.  As frustrating and as ugly of a game that the loss to the Jets was, it was still winnable.  Akers could move the chains, but the Rams offensive line simply committed too many penalities.

Goff may not be a flashy Jalen Hurts. But that is not his fault. Aaron Rodgers, Drew Brees, and even Tom Brady are not either. The Rams’ offense has always been based on a strong running game, and defenses know that.  So they force the Rams to abandon the running game early and then defend the pass for the rest of the game. Until the offense runs repeatedly to defeat that plan, the Rams can expect to see a lot more games where defenses ignore the Rams rushing attack.

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After all, it appears as though the Rams have ignored their own rushing attack already.