Shell-shocked or just cold and calculating? What is your read on the mindset of the LA Rams right now? If you can tell, let me know, because I just can’t get a read on this team. After the Week 4 embarrassment, they seem to be just fine. Almost as though that stomping was a figment of my imagination. Their reactions feel a bit like denial, almost as though the coaches and players have convinced themselves after the chaos of Week 4 that they were just one key play away from victory.
From the vantage point of my television screen? No. That’s not what happened.
And yet, through each press conference this week, I didn’t get a feeling that there is as much passion and smolder about losing as simple bewilderment and astonishment. Are the LA Rams‘ players approaching their Week 5 matchup with an intensity and focus to fix the many miscues from Week 4? Or is it a bit of disbelief, and if they simply show up this week, sanity will be restored and the Rams will emerge the victor?
What I saw was an offense that coughed up the ball twice in their first four possessions. And with both turnovers, the defense gave up touchdowns. 14 points gifted away to a divisional rival. Take that away, and the Rams could have been in the lead by a score of 10-7. Or at worst, give up a pair of field goals and be trailing by a score of 13-10.
I don’t like to blame a player. Rather, I encourage fixing a process. In fact, that is exactly what we wrote about immediately following that loss. But the Rams struggled to stop the pass in two consecutive games now.
Where are those halftime adjustments?
In 2020, the one thing that stood out about the Rams defense was the miraculous ways that the team was able to go into the locker room at halftime and emerge as a completely different defense. Yards were tougher to come by, and points were almost unheard of. In the first five games of 2020, the defense surrendered just 23 points in the second half of all five games combined. In 2021? The defense has given up 55 points in the second half of just the first four games.
There is your bogey. There is the trouble. The LA Rams are not adjusting whatsoever to what offenses are doing to them. It’s already cost them one game. It will likely cost them more.
This may be the same basic scheme. It may be a defense that has many of the same rotating coverage concepts. But we know that offensive coordinators were able to decipher the cryptic disguises and score points on the Rams in the first half. But after halftime? The Rams re-encrypted the defense, and offenses were left in confusion.
That is not happening this year. Right now, I’m not even certain that the Rams are failing miserably at that one area where they excelled a year ago.
Halftime adjustments. It’s both an exercise in humility (they are beating us here and there), as well as an opportunity to shine (we can do this and do that to stop them). It’s one of the key missing ingredients from the 2021 NFL defense. The disappointing part to all of that? That one is on the coaching staff, folks.