Sean McVay opting to go for it on 4th and 1 showed MASSIVE Sam Cassell style stones. The Rams converted and sealed a brutal road win against Seattle. They overcame losing Brandin Cooks and Cooper Kupp to concussions and an erratic Jared Goff performance. As amazing as that win was, it didn’t need to be as dramatic as an episode of Friday Night Lights. The reason why the Rams had to pull a win out of their ass was because the defense demonstrated a glaring lack of discipline. They committed ill timed penalties, blew coverage, and were carved up like a teenager in a slasher flick.
The biggest exemplar of the Rams lack of discipline was corner Marcus Peters. Typically he’s one of the best corners in the league but today was not one of those days. He committed three of the Rams seven penalties (for a total of 45 yards), two of which nullified stops made by Ndamukong Suh and the front seven. Not only did he burn himself but he allowed himself to get roasted Jeff Ross style. He gave up two touchdowns; one a long bomb to Tyler Lockett and another to David Moore. Peters also couldn’t reel in two interceptions. It’s unfair to lay all of their discipline issues on him as Nickell Robey-Coleman also had an egregious holding penalty of his own.
The defense gave up big plays all day and that comes back to their biggest issue entering the season, which was the lack of a real pass rush. Mark Barron returned today (more on him later) but that didn’t help the other linebackers get to Russell Wilson. Suh and Aaron Donald got sack lunches but the rest of the defense struggled to bring down the elusive Wilson. It’s hard to fathom a Brian Schottenheimer offense having that many big plays but the defense did him a lot of favors.
Not only did Russell Wilson flambe the Rams passing defense, but the running defense was GUTTED like it was the Voting Rights Act. Considering how the Seahawks line was Spongebob level porous all year, this is concerning. Running backs Chris Carson and Mike Davis racked up 174 yards on the ground. The Seahawks extended drives because their backs were able to convert short yardage and break open plays. Aside from Barron, they struggled to make tackles. The biggest saving grace was Cory Littleton making consecutive stops in the fourth quarter. Other than that, Wade Phillips should be deeply concerned going forward.
It’s no fun to be an Eyore after a comeback win but these are problems that continue to linger. Maybe they need to look into trading for another edge rusher to take the burden off Suh and Donald. Barron is a tackling machine but they lack another linebacker that can consistently make plays. Littleton has had spurts where he’s been a leader, especially in Barron’s absence but it hasn’t been consistent. They should’ve feasted on a bad Seahawks line but instead generated less pressure than a campaign trying to renew Marvel’s Inhumans.
Today the offense, specifically Todd Gurley bailed out the defense at every turn. Gurley is a monster but he can’t score three touchdowns every game. They will be without Kupp and Cooks for an undetermined amount of time. Josh Reynolds and Gerald Everett looked good today but time will tell if they can succeed as starters. The point is, the defense needs to win the Rams a game at some point. The unit as presently constituted can’t withstand any more injuries especially if starters such as Peters have days where they light themselves on fire.
Next week presents another big test as they travel to Denver to take on one of the best pass rushes in the league. The Rams’ defense might have to take the reigns depending on how the offense matches up against Von Miller and company. Wade will do everything he can not to get embarrassed at his big homecoming but the players will have to execute. That’s becoming a pretty big IF.