Ugly III: Matthew Stafford never really showed up
Prior to this game, we’d heard reports that Matthew Stafford was a bit ‘streaky’. After Week 4? That is a big 10-4. He is streaky. Not that this loss is on him. It’s not. But it does force the Rams to recalibrate their offensive game plan going forward.
The Rams’ offensive strategy was blatantly obvious because it’s been the same strategy for the past three games. That kind of predictability isn’t going to fool anyone. It certainly didn’t fool me, and I’m not very versed in the intricacies of NFL strategy.
In four games, the Rams have thrown at Cooper Kupp 46 times out of 134 passes. That is more than a third of all passes thrown and makes it extremely easy for defensive coordinators to be much more effective than they need to be. That’s exactly what the Arizona Cardinals did, gambling that HC Sean McVay and QB Matthew Stafford would stick to their two favorite targets, and they were correct.
The combination of Van Jefferson, Robert Woods, and Tyler Higbee in this game would have made this a completely different outcome. They were a combined 14 of 18 for 174 yards and two touchdowns. Was I the only guy watching the Cardinals videos leading up to this game? They are predictable too.
The Rams simply entered this game with a poor offensive game plan and failed to change up to what the Cardinals defense was giving them. The Rams were able to run well in this one, but fell behind too quickly, forcing them to abandon the run. The Rams were able to connect with their secondary receivers but, again, failed to recognize the defense in time to start committing to passing the ball their way. We’ve seen these mistakes before. Let’s hope this is the last time we see them this year.