What caused the LA Rams offense to stall against the 49ers?

(Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)
(Photo by Harry How/Getty Images) /
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LA Rams News Sean McVay
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Self-scouting is critical in the playoffs

It’s clear that the San Francisco 49ers do their homework whenever they face the LA Rams. It’s also clear that the LA Rams do not deviate from that research. The 49ers have been able to effectively force the Rams to play their style of game, whether that game is played in San Francisco or Los Angeles.

Of course, there are plenty of solutions. But in constructing the high-explosive offense for the 2021 NFL Season, the team shed many of the players who would be incredibly helpful right now.  For starters, the Rams lost several players to injury in TE Johnny Mundt and WR Robert Woods. Both players contribute handily to the Rams’ ability to run the ball effectively.  Woods also add that vital dimension of a possession receiver, a player who acts as an alternative option to Cooper Kupp if and when the Rams need to move the chains on a vital third down.

The Rams may also be regretting the decision to allow power running back Malcolm Brown to sign on with the Miami Dolphins as well. Brown was not only quite effective at running through the offensive line when no crease appeared, but he was incredibly handsy when the team needed him to catch a pass for a first down to move the chains.

Okay, so what can the LA Rams do in the Wildcard Round of the NFL Playoffs?

Possession passing game

The LA Rams will need to downshift a bit to ensure that they are the ones who dictate the pace of the game to the Arizona Cardinals. Of course, this game will swell with plenty of emotion and incredible plays. But the key to this one, much as the Week 18 game, will be to present a balanced offensive attack that will keep the Cardinals defense from pinning their ears back and sacking the daylight out of Matthew Stafford early.

The Rams did not gain many yards on the ground against the 49ers, but it was an effective ground attack regardless. Matthew Stafford was able to find his receivers on short to mid-range routes routinely and the Rams were able to move the ball downfield in their first three possessions: A field goal, a touchdown, and a touchdown.

No doubt the Cardinals will see that and plan to stop the Rams over the middle. That should allow the LA Rams to run far more effectively in this one. As we had learned early this season, the Cardinals’ defense can be rather stingy when facing a passing offense. But when they must also stop a determined ground game, not only do they give up yards on the ground, but the airways open up as well.

I don’t believe that the Cardinals’ defense will allow Cooper Kupp to beat them. So the Rams must find a way to reroute their aerial assault through WR Odell Beckham Jr., WR Van Jefferson, and TE Tyler Higbee. It’s what the Rams did through their five-game winning streak. Now, it’s what the LA Rams must accomplish once more.

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