In the first two games, the LA Rams seemed to have everything going for them. The Rams had a 1-1 record against two NFC West opponents who had a 4-0 combined record against the rest of the NFL. Better than that, the Rams new offensive play calling seemed to have found a balance. While the yards came through the air, the points and the time of possession came on the ground. And the Rams were showing up in big ways. Best of all, veteran quarterback Matthew Stafford had only been sacked one time.
In Week 3, that would all change. The LA Rams would face the worst run defense in the NFL, yet somehow would game plan a passing attack. While even that original game plan may have worked, the moment that starting left tackle Alaric Jackson fell to injury and was replaced by backup interior offensive lineman Zach Thomas, the Rams should have altered their strategy.
Damn the torpedos! The LA Rams would insist on passing against a defense that knew passes were coming. Against the worst run defense in the NFL, a defense that allowed an average of 196 yards per game, the Rams rushed a running back 10 times for 38 yards. Was it because the Beganls stuffed the run? Hardly. The Rams rushed a total of 13 times for 71 yards on the day, for an average of 5.5 yards per rush. And yet even though down by one score, the Rams failed to exploit that ability to grind it out.
Against the worst rushing defense in the NFL.
Rams coaches did not alter their game plan one iota after OL injuries
We saw plenty of that in 2022. When the LA Rams faced the top passing defense in the NFL, they opted to pass. That was despite the fact that the Rams offensive line was battered and bruised and trying to play with backups and reserves facing the best pass rushers in the NFL.
When the LA Rams lost LT Alaric Jackson, the better probability of success would have been to lean heavily into a 12-personnel package, run more often, and perhaps even dowhshift into giving some runs to big ole running back Royce Freeman. Pounding away at the Bengals pass rushers may not have changed the outcome of the game, but it would have preserved QB Matthew Stafford, who was tossed around like a rag doll in an ugly loss.
The Rams got scolded sternly by NFL Insider and analyst Brian Baldinger, and rightfully so. After the Rams pushed Zach Thomas to left tackle, they left him on an island and did not chip at him with a running back nor outflank him with a blocking tight end. As a result, Bengals pass rusher Trey Hendrickson made Stafford uncomfortable all day.
That was horrible.
Rams coaches had no answer
Even when the Bengals showed blitz, the Rams offense had no response. As Baldy does so eloquently, he shows the Bengals overloading the defensive front with defenders. Rather than give the Rams a quick option, the play sent four Rams receivers on deep routes. And as expected, the Rams offensive line was overwhelmed and surrendered a sack.
The Rams ended up losing the game by three points. Still, the game was played well by the defense. This is a Rams team that set the initial 53-man roster with four running backs and four tight ends. Where was the running game in this one? Where were the tight ends?
The outcome for this one came as no surprise. The Rams are 1-2, and I have stated all along that this was going to be an erratic tempo this season that would eventually become a better team over time. But it feels a bit like a letdown seeing that the Rams have fallen into the same patterns that lead to losses so quickly.
The Rams were the better team in Week 3. But I regretfully saw a team that was simply outcoached. The Cincinnati Bengals, knowing that QB Joe Burrow was not 100 percent, rushed 23 times for 67 yards. The Rams. facing the worst run defense in the NFL, rushed 13 times for 71 yards. Had the Rams chosen to run the ball more frequently, not only would the Rams have saved quarterback Matthew Stafford from a needless battering, but they would have won a very winnable game.
The LA Rams are 1-2. But, quite honestly, the Rams players have played like a 3-0 team. This season, the coaches have let them down.