LA Rams explosive offense just blew up in their face

Mandatory Credit: Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports
Mandatory Credit: Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports /

The LA Rams team, much like the Arizona Cardinals team, is built to jump out to an early lead, and then hold that lead until the final gun sounds.  When the Rams fall behind by double digits, it’s tough to claw back into it. But wait, isn’t this the team with the veteran comeback-kid quarterback Matthew Stafford? Indeed it is.  But the Rams were far too predictable, while the Cardinals’ offense was not.

The result? The Cardinals jumped out to an early lead and never looked back. The Rams compounded early mistakes by making more mistakes. In the end, the Rams fell into a trap of their own making. The Cardinals knew what the Rams were doing before the Rams did it.

Of course, that predictability was just one of the laundry list of errors committed by the LA Rams in Week 4, but by rights, it was easily the most preventable. In several pregame articles, we offered up plenty of suggestions of how to preserve the offensive explosiveness simply by avoiding trying the same ole stuff and expecting the same ole results.

The answer my friend is blowing in the wind

We offered up using copious amounts of two-tight ends on offense,  running the ball 20+ times (okay, we lobbied for Sony Michel, but Darrell Henderson would have done just as well), making Robert Woods a primary target in Week 4. It’s pretty clear that we don’t have much say-so in what the Rams do on game day. But it’s also clear that any of these strategies would have been more successful on offense than what the Rams accomplished.

The Cardinals did what good defenses do. They study the upcoming offense, make note of their strategies and tendencies, and then devise a game plan to stop them.

Perhaps the best example of the LA Rams predictability is illustrated in our piece about why Robert Woods was due for a big game in Week 4. Woods is becoming frustrated, and for good reason. It’s as though he is invisible in this offense.

Can’t see the Woods for the Bobby Trees

We pointed out that the Rams love them some Cooper Kupp early in the past three seasons. In each year, Kupp has jumped out to take an early lead in receptions and yards. But that hot streak soon cools off because defenses sit on Kupp and that is when problems begin. We had hoped that with a new quarterback and a recharged head coach, the Rams offense would be too clever to repeat that pattern.

We thought wrong.

Even more embarrassing, the pattern for the Arizona Cardinals defense showed that they are very effective at stopping the best receiver of their opponent. That is Cooper Kupp in Week 4.  But they struggle to contain secondary receivers, just as they did against the Rams.  Robert Woods and Van Jefferson combined for 10 of 12 for 138 yards and two touchdowns.  Cooper Kupp, who was targeted 13 times, came down with just 5 catches for 64 yards.

Had the Rams diverted those passes from Kupp to Woods/Jefferson, they had the potential (arithmetically at least) for 20 of 24 passes for 276 yards and four touchdowns. The thing about it is, the Cardinals would never have expected it.

Will the Rams learn their lesson now? Or will the Rams revert to the ‘damn the torpedoes’ philosophy, and try to pass another dozen or more times to Cooper Kupp with only trace results?

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The Rams cannot run a 17-game season on Cooper Kupp’s shoulders alone. I’m not sure why the Rams didn’t realize that against the Arizona Cardinals. Perhaps now, other receivers will be targetted too.