If you were concerned about the LA Rams offense shaking off the rust, (Okay, I admit I was), then we’ve got some good news for you. The offense was every bit as advertised. By the end of the first quarter, quarterback Matthew Stafford threw six of seven for 114 yards and a touchdown (quarterback rating of 158.3). Bears quarterback Andy Dalton was seven of ten for 50 yards and an interception in the first quarter. Rookie quarterback Justin Field was in for one pass for nine yards.
The LA Rams‘ first-half rushing was seven runs for twelve yards. Their counterparts? The Bears’ running game was hot, running 15 times for 89 yards and a touchdown. While there was little expectation that the Rams would be able to run the ball as well as the Chicago Bears in this one, that margin of difference is alarming. This remains a pass-blocking offensive line.
The Rams running game was not effective, and that could spell problems.
The Rams defense cannot continue to give up an average of over 5.0 yards-per-carry in any future games. That was a concern going into the game, but the hope was that the combination of A’Shawn Robinson and Taylor Rapp could help keep that to a minimum. Of course, after the Rams went up in the second quarter by the score of 13-0, the Rams saw fewer running plays.
The Rams defense is indeed pitching a shutout. But there were definitely things to clean up. The Rams allowed a lot of rushing yards in a game where they could have anticipated the ground game as part of the Bears’ offensive strategy. If not for a brilliant back door strip-sack from Justin Hollins, the Rams defense would not have had a quarterback sack for this one.
The Rams offensive line held up okay early but did give up a quarterback sack as Akeem Hicks bowled over Brian Allen. That pushed the Rams deep into their end of the field and forced the team to punt out of their own end zone. Would the Rams hold the shutout heading into the half? Well, until the final possession of the Bears, who were able to punch it in from the three-yard line for a touchdown.
The Rams were dominated on the time of possession, with the Bears controlling the clock from 18:19 to the LA Rams 11:41. That’s fine for the first half of the first game. But 17 games with that type of lopsided dominance is going to wear down this defense pretty quickly.
The LA Rams wanted to land an explosive offense. The Rams scored their first touchdown in 1:18. Their second score, a field goal, only needed 2:30 to push the score to 10-0. The third and final field goal by the LA Rams needed just 4:35 to increase the lead to 13-0. That’s a lot of scoring for having the football for just 11 minutes in the first half.
The Rams defense is not in the same spot it was a year ago. But it seems to have a different mindset. Whether a result of a deliberate decision or not, the Rams have taken on the form of a bend but not break defense. While the Rams allowed plenty of points, they did manage to get two turnovers.
It was one of the turnovers, an interception that happened in the LA Rams endzone, that was quite likely a 14 point play. It took an almost certain touchdown away from the Bears and allowed the LA Rams to move the ball down the field for that first score as Matthew Stafford delivered the long ball that Rams fans eagerly anticipated.
The Rams are winning in this opener, but it is the defense, not the offense, that looks confused, bewildered, sluggish, and rusty.
After an electric opening drive, the Rams seemed to settle in a bit and coast in this one. The energy and tempo seemed to slow down for the Rams as the game progressed, while the same energy and tempo seemed to grow more and more for the Bears. Without two turnovers, the Rams trail in this one.
The LA Rams are winning 13-7 in the opener. But to be honest, this one is not over just yet. Not by a long shot.