Look for Van Jefferson to show up big against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers
By Bret Stuter
This is the type of game that should be a perfect opportunity for LA Rams quarterback Matthew Stafford and the newly returned veteran wide receiver, Van Jefferson to finally connect. The Rams’ offense needs a boost. Starting Rams wide receiver Cooper Kupp needs a break. The Tampa Bay Buccaneers need to face a receiver who can stretch the field. And finally, LA Rams head coach Sean McVay needs to feature more than one receiver in this lethargic offense.
You could call this a perfect storm of necessity.
So what is the status of Van Jefferson in Game 8? Much like Van Jefferson’s designation for Game 7, he will suit up. But unlike Game 7, the Rams spent the week working with him in the offensive game plan, rather than exclusively monitoring him for his ability to play that week.
The ‘complete receiver’ is suiting up this week.
Van Jefferson’s time to shine
In short, the Rams may actually feature some passes to Jefferson in this one, unlike a Game 7 where the Rams had no real plan in place to involve him.
Even with that being said, don’t look for a salvo of passes Jefferson’s way. But even a handful of passes his way would be a huge step for the Rams, as they are stuck in a quagmire of bad play across the roster. And so, to fix it, the Rams have to fix multiple problems simultaneously.
One area that would have huge benefits for the team would be even the bare basics of a deep pass to Jefferson. Once that happens, the defense will be forced to modify coverages, opening up the short and intermediate routes. Given some room to roam, the Rams will have a greater likelihood of finding other receivers.
And that should give the Rams’ offense chances to run with the football.
Rams offensive line
Of course, none of this takes effect if the Rams’ offensive line is struggling. But the latest iteration of Alaric Jackson, Bobby Evans, Brian Allen, Oday Aboushi, and Rob Havenstein held up better against the 49ers than the group has all season. Of eight quarterback pressures, Bobby Evans allowed four of them. Will the Rams change their lineup one more time?
While the evidence to do so has been mounting, the Rams had plenty of reasons to make moves during their BYE week and failed to do so. Sure, the team reinserted starting center Brian Allen into the lineup, but the team had an opportunity to insert veteran interior offensive lineman Matt Skura at left guard and failed to do so.
By doing so, the team sealed the outcome of their rematch with the San Francisco 49ers. Now, the offense has another chance to turn the season’s momentum around and reset the record to .500 once more. But to do that, the Rams need to get the football to wide receiver Van Jefferson. And to do that, the LA Rams offensive line must provide enough time to quarterback Matthew Stafford.
That hasn’t happened yet this season. But, it may happen this week. Not because I want it to. Not because the Rams want it to. Simply stated, the Rams need it to happen to have a chance at winning.