After suffering back-to-back disappointing losses to the Tennesee Titans and San Francisco 49ers, the Los Angeles Rams were hoping to be able to fix their issues during the bye week to get back on track for the home stretch.
Well, things didn’t exactly play out that way as the Rams came out of their bye essentially looking the same as they did before it and the result was a 36-28 loss to the Green Bay Packers to drop to 7-4 on the season.
Let me get right into it.
The biggest reason for the Titans and 49ers losses were early turnovers by Matthew Stafford leading to points for the opposing team, and that’s exactly what happened again in this one.
Stafford fumbled the ball deep in his own territory on the Rams’ second possession, leading to a quick Packers touchdown. On their next possession, the Rams then went for it on fourth down in their own territory and Darrell Henderson was stuffed, with Green Bay adding a field goal as a result.
Then in the third quarter, Stafford threw a pick-six for the third consecutive game.
That’s 17 points right there that shouldn’t have been on the board, putting the Rams in another hole they could not climb out of. This is an issue that simply needs to get fixed now, or the Rams aren’t going anywhere this season.
The reason Sean McVay pulled the trigger on trading Jared Goff for Stafford was because of the former’s inability to take care of the ball, which led to vocal frustration from the coach last season.
McVay hasn’t yet called out Stafford publicly, but there’s no doubt that both are aware that this can’t continue to happen moving forward, or else the results will remain the same.
Special Teams continues to be a problem
Speaking of turnovers, the Rams had another one on special teams with new punt returner J.J. Koski fumbling a return, which led to more points for Green Bay.
The Rams also lined up offsides on a punt, resulting in a first down for the Packers before the end of the first half, although that one didn’t lead to points.
And to cap things off, Johnny Hekker absolutely shanked a punt late in the game, while the punter the Rams traded to the Packers just before the start of the season, Corey Bojorquez was absolutely booming balls all day.
L.A.’s special teams unit has been abysmal all season long, and that continued in this one.
Nobody is asking the Rams to be perfect on special teams, but they simply cannot make game-altering mistakes like they did against the Packers and many other times this season.
OBJ and Von Miller were positives
They weren’t perfect by any means, but both Odell Beckham Jr. and Von Miller showed in this game what they are capable of once they get more acclimated in the Rams’ system.
Beckham and Stafford still weren’t on the same page, which can be expected, but they did connect on a 54-yard touchdown late in the game. Big-play ability is exactly what Beckham is supposed to add to this offense, and we got a glimpse of it on that play.
No, he will not replace the steady production and exceptional blocking that the Rams lost when Robert Woods went down with a torn ACL. But he can add another element to this offense and should only get better over time as he continues to work with Stafford in practice.
Meanwhile, Miller finished with five tackles, including a tackle for loss as well as one QB hit. The tackle for loss was a nice play on Aaron Jones that backed the Packers up five yards, eventually forcing a punt a couple of plays later.
Miller has been known to be a game-wrecker, and drive-ending plays like that are exactly what the Rams defense needs.
Defensive issues becoming more concerning
The reason the Rams defense needs plays like that is because they are struggling in many other areas, particularly getting off the field on third and fourth downs. The Packers converted 9-of-21 third-down plays and 2-of-2 on fourth down, leading to long sustained drives to wear out the Rams defense.
Getting off the field on third down was the Rams’ biggest strength last season, but that has gone away completely this year:
Definitely part of the problem, plus they’re on the field too much and often not in favorable field position because of mistakes from the offense or ST.
They’re 24th in opponent 3rd down conversion percentage at 42%, sandwiched between the Jets & Lions. Last year was 35% (top 3) https://t.co/UtlDDZVA1E
— Rams Brothers (@RamsBrothers) November 29, 2021
Part of that is a personnel issue after losing some key players from last season, while part of it is a scheme issue as Raheem Morris is a clear downgrade from Brandon Staley.
Currently, it’s easy to beat the Rams on intermediate routes in the middle of the field. Both Taylor Rapp and Troy Reeder looked absolutely lost out there trying to cover Green Bay receivers, which led to chunk gains after chunk gains.
The film is out there, so look for other teams to do the same moving forward, which is a problem.
Up next for the Rams…
Next week is a perfect “get right” opportunity for the Rams as they will welcome the 2-9 Jacksonville Jaguars to town.
The Rams are in desperate need of a win right now to boost morale, but that doesn’t mean all of their issues will be fixed if they get it against one of the worst teams in the league.