As of this post, the Los Angeles Rams have already played their first five games of the regular season. However, we will look into the first four games, with a couple of quick notes from their most recent fifth game. We will wrap things up by looking ahead to the next four games as the team heads toward the halfway point.
So, the Rams, at this point in the season have a 3-2 record and are third in the NFC West behind the San Francisco 49ers (4-0), Seattle Seahawks (4-1), while remaining ahead of the Arizona Cardinals (1-3-1). Quite honestly, this 2019 version of the Rams looks nothing like team that just went to Super Bowl 53. Last season, Los Angeles were top five in three offensive categories (total yards, rushing, and passing yards per game). This season, the team ranks 22nd in rushing yards per game with 99.8.
In the first four games of the season, the Rams defeated the Carolina Panthers, New Orleans Saints and the Cleveland Browns. Their first lost of the season came at home to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in a shootout, finishing 55-40. In all of the games, two things were prominent. The first, Todd Gurley and the running game not being used as much as last season. The second, Jared Goff is throwing the ball an astronomical amount.
In the first four games of the season, Jared Goff has thrown an interception for every touchdown, six each. It should also be noted that Goff had a 64.2% completion percentage per game, making 173 attempts and only having a QBR rating of 38.7 (26th in the league at the time). But, Goff is third in the league among quarterbacks for total passing yards (only behind reigning MVP Patrick Mahomes and Matt Ryan).
Circling back to the obsolete running game. Through the first four games last season, Todd Gurley totaled 79 carries, with four touchdowns and 338 rushing yards. This season, 49 carries, two touchdowns for a mere 219 total yards. As an entire team this season, thus far, the team has only 115 attempts for 481 yards. There’s a major red alert going on here.
While one person can’t take all of the blame for the undisguised woes of the Rams this season, the play calling by head coach Sean McVay can be questioned. Potentially there may be the need to have Jared Goff prove his worth of his recent $110 million contract extension. Potentially, McVay wants to limit the run game until the end of the season (last year Gurley missed the last two games due to knee issues). Maybe, the rest of the league has caught up to McVay and his play calling.
Looking into the next quarter of the season, which has already begun, the Rams took their second loss of the season to the Seattle Seahawks last Thursday 30-29. The remaining three games include the 49ers at home, on the road to see the Atlanta Falcons and wrap up back in Los Angeles against the Cincinnati Bengals. After Cincinnati comes to town, the Rams will have their bye week in week nine. If the Rams want to save their season and not go down to the wire in December, these next three games can make or break their playoff hopes.