What should LA Rams be noticing from NFL playoff teams this year?

Mandatory Credit: Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports
Mandatory Credit: Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports /

While the LA Rams are not competing in the NFL playoffs this year, the team can still take notes and follow along with the common attributes of the winners, and losers in the game. There were plenty of great football plays made, and some eye-rolling plays as well. But his is the win-or-go-home series now, and there is no room for ‘saving something up,’ for the next week.

Doing so could mean not getting to the next week.

If you watched all of this weekend’s playoff games, you may have noticed several things that the winning teams were able to do to ensure their victories. And to the surprise of nobody, those were not the characteristics that the Rams displayed during the 2022 NFL season. What were these common traits?

III: The game is won in the trenches

Whether it was running the ball, protecting the quarterback, sacking the quarterback, or stuffing the run, the winners invariably dominated the line of scrimmage. That is not just the offensive linemen, but the combination of offensive and defensive linemen. The team that was able to run the ball gained an immediate advantage over their opponent’s defense as it kept their players guessing from the offensive snap whether the play would be a run or a pass.

Over the course of a game, those split-second hesitations eventually result in a play or two gaining huge yards.

II: Turnovers lead to losses

The Buffalo Bills, the Dallas Cowboys, the Jacksonville Jaguars, and the New York Giants all led in this statistic in their respective games. They all turned the ball over more than their opponent, and all four teams lost this weekend. That is an area that the LA Rams must be fully aware of as the team reloads and surrounds the offense, and veteran quarterback Matthew Stafford, with a new offense.

Stafford will throw interceptions. It’s who he is. But the LA Rams cannot plan their offense that has him throwing into elite pass defenses without a way to mitigate the risks of throwing picks. Whether that translates into moving the pocket, creating high-percentage passes, or just coaching him hard to throw it away if nothing is open, the Rams cannot simply shrug their shoulders at the high number of turnovers again.

I: Winning teams run the football.

The Cincinnati Bengals ran 34 times and passed 36 times. The San Francisco 49ers ran the ball 32 times and passed 29 times. The Kansas City Chiefs ran the football 30 times and passed 37 times. And the Philadelphia Eagles ran the football 44 times and passed the football 24 times. In all games, the victors ran the football no less than 30 times. In the case of the losing teams, no team rushed with the football more than 22 times.

Committing to the run is not, as LA Rams head coach Sean McVay has been known to say, ‘wasting a play,’ at all. It’s a vital strategy, a way to control the game clock, and tempo of the game, and to ensure that the Rams control their own fate.

In the end, the Rams struggled in all three areas in 2022. Let’s hope that the team figures out ways to improve in all three areas for 2023.

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