5 takeaways from the LA Rams loss in week 16

Mandatory Credit: Robert Hanashiro-USA TODAY Sports
Mandatory Credit: Robert Hanashiro-USA TODAY Sports /

After a sound defeat at the hands of the rival Seahawks, the LA Rams are now fighting for their playoff lives. Here are five takeaways from that loss

Before we turn our scope towards the LA Rams‘ next and final game of the regular season, we have a few items of the old business to discuss. Since this week has been a ticker tape of news and updates, we have gotten behind schedule for that rear-view mirror review.  So let’s address that now.  And to keep from spending too much time at it, we’ll keep in short.

For starters, the Rams faced a talented and determined foe in week 16 when they traveled to the Seattle Seahawks. And like other losses, the Ram seemed to be able to run the ball and seemed to be effective in their 12-personnel package. That was once more rather confusing as the Rams did not do much of either until the game began to get out of hand.

So what did the Rams do well, even in a loss? Well, these five things:

5. Rams kicker Matt Gay has been a pleasant surprise

The LA Rams have not had much to smile about in their kicking game. But the newly signed kicker Matt Gay is proving that third time is a charm. Gay is the third starting placekicker for the Rams, and he put up a perfect three for three kicking effort up for the Rams in a losing effort. He kicked a field goal from 30-39 yards, one from 40-49 yards, and another over 50+ yards.  That is a huge positive for the Rams at a role they have scrambled to address nearly the entire season.

4. Rams pass rush can get after the quarterback

The LA Rams sacked the quarterback 50 times in 2019 but lost two of the team’s most proficient pass rushers.  OLB Dante Fowler Jr. sold to the highest bidder in the NFL Free Agency market. Conversely, the Rams parted ways with veteran OLB Clay Matthews.  So who has made up the difference?

Well, the duo of Aaron Donald and Michael Brockers has added four sacks over their combined 2019 total with one game remaining in the season.  Add in the three sacks respectively from both OLB Justin Hollins and ILB Troy Reeder. Finally, the addition of OLB Leonard Floyd, whose 9.5 sacks is a career-high, and you’ve got some idea. In fact, with the exception of his rookie season, Floyd’s sack total this year is greater than the sum of any two seasons.

3. Rams offense seems more balanced in 12 personnel

While the Rams lean towards their 11 personnel package, I daresay they have better optics when running their 12 personnel package. They played heavy 12 personnel, and the honest truth is that they appeared to be a team capable of playing deep into the playoffs. It was clear that the Rams could run once more, and that was enough to rekindle hope for a restoration of the Rams balanced offense.

Even with Henderson, the Rams simply feel more in-synch when the offense has two tight ends and can run the ball effectively. But with Akers, the young running back thrills with solid blocking.

2. There is something fundamentally flawed with Goff’s game right now

Even before quarterback Jared Goff suffered a significant injury to his throwing hand, he did not appear to be 100 percent. It was most obvious when he was forced to take off running. But even his throwing motion seemed… off. Is he injured somehow, somewhere? It appears for all intents and purposes that Goff ran gingerly, not to gain yards but rather to pick out a spot to surrender without suffering a bone-jarring tackle.

This leads one to guess if he is running gingerly, does that also impact his throwing motion? Something just seems fundamentally and significantly off with Goff right now. While a thumb injury could be devastating to a quarterback, the opportunity to take a game off and rest may be the best thing for Goff for reasons we may not even know.

1. The LA Rams cannot keep rookies on the bench any longer.

What is the holdup to getting offensive rookies onto the field? I’ve had dogs that were easier to pull a bone from than convincing the Rams to play their rookies, at least on the offensive side of the ball. We’ve mentioned how the Rams have not played their top-two drafted rookies very often: RB Cam Akers and WR Van Jefferson. But the Rams have other rookies waiting in the wings on offense that have yet to get any meaningful offensive snaps.

Tight-end Brycen Hopkins played just two offensive snaps all year. That’s certainly not much work for a young man who many expect will assume one of two starting tight end roles for the team next year. With no passes thrown his way, the Rams will be working from the practice field only to assess his worth.

So too have the Rams failed to use undrafted rookie running back Xavier Jones yet this season on offense. Now, with both Cam Akers and Darrell Henderson injured, the Rams will be forced to have Jones ready to play. And finally, the Rams have undrafted rookie WR Trishton Jackson. The Rams seemed to have several very promising players in training camp, but only Jackso made it to the 53-man roster. Unfortunately, that has not translated into any playing time.

Next. Micah Kiser return gives LA Rams D huge boost for finale. dark

The Rams have one more regular-season game.  They can finish either 10-6, or repeat last year’s record at 9-7.  However the season turns out, these Rams have been better than many had expected. Let’s hope that the team will play the following week as well.