It’s not too soon to say LA Rams Week 2 is a must win

Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports
Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports /

Response. The dictionary definition is a reaction. But for the LA Rams in the NFL, response holds far more meaning. The term ‘response,’ is how the LA Rams have chosen to frame their Week 1 humiliating loss. Now, the response is how they will react. But in the process, how they set the stage for the remaining 16 games on their schedule.

Now, as the LA Rams step onto the football field, they have to answer some vital questions.

The Buffalo Bills put a good beating on the Rams.  It was so overwhelming, that about the only thing that LA Rams head coach Sean McVay could say afterward is ‘humbling.’ But even in temporary defeat, the Rams can turn this to their advantage. Time to answer the biggest question in everyone’s mind: Can the Rams get back up off the canvas after being handily throttled?

In the words of Marvel’s Captain America: ‘I can do this all day.’

Getting back to a decisive victory in Week 2 changes the narrative instantly. It’s no longer about the LA Rams freefall. It’s about the LA Rams’ first-week anomaly, and how the team has everything back on track.

1-1 is a far cry and better sledding for an NFL team. As CBS Sports calls it, opening the season at 0-2 is a virtual kiss of death for playoff-hopeful teams. In the past three seasons, 40 NFL teams have opened to a record of 0-2, and none have made the playoffs. So it’s a fair statement to call this one a must-win game.

Now, about those questions:

Can the LA Rams run the football?

The barest answer is yes. The LA Rams can run the football. But as we’ve come to learn over several seasons, the real question is whether the Rams will commit to doing so. The Rams opened Week 1 with 18 rushes and 41 passes. Was it the game that dictated that lopsided play calling?

No. In 2020, the LA Rams fell behind by a score of 21-3 to the same Buffalo Bills on the road. The Rams remained committed to the run and actually took the lead before losing by three points. At the end of that game, the Rams passed 32 times and rushed 32 times.

Will the Rams commit to running the football? Who can say? The Rams certainly have all the reasons in the universe to do so. Control the game clock. Move the chains. Keep the defense rested. Protect quarterback Matthew Stafford. Limit turnovers.

Will it matter in Week 2?   We’ll soon know the answer to that one.

Will Allen Robinson be targeted in Week 2?

LA Rams opened the season by targeting wide receiver two times. Stafford threw to WR Cooper Kupp 15 times, to TE Tyler Higbee 11 times, to WR Ben Skowronek six times, to RB Darrell Henderson five times, and then to WR Allen Robinson twice.

It’s both frustrating and disappointing, but that’s how it goes for the Rams sometimes.

Robinson is theoretically the second-best receiver on the roster. Deploying him as a decoy against a team that is now arguably one of the best in the NFL is short-sighted at best, downright foolish at worst.

The Rams need to get Robinson involved. The longer the team delays working him into the offense, the worse the offensive lopsidedness will grow. Robinson is a physical type of receiver who was touted all through training camp. Now, it’s time to get him involved.

Can the LA Rams defense make third-down stops?

The Rams loaded up at inside linebacker by signing veteran Bobby Wagner.  So the Bills attacked the Rams’ perimeter to amazing effect. Bootlegging quarterback Josh Allen to form a secondary pocket gave receivers ample time to find openings in the Rams’ secondary, and the Rams’ young edge rushers were ill-equipped to stay home and apply pressure to hurry and harass Allen from doing so.

The LA Rams defense, despite creating four turnovers, could not stop the Bills’ offense on third down.  The Buffalo Bills converted nine of ten third downs.  The Rams’ defense was not as bad as the score might suggest.  The defense did enough to put the team into a position to win.

But four turnovers led to three points.

Conversely, the Rams’ offense put up three turnovers of their own, which led to 10 points for the Buffalo Bills.

Much of what the Rams did or did not do is fixable. But it comes down to how well will the Rams respond.

Trending. LA Rams call up pancake specialist Jacob Harris for Week 2. light