The Los Angeles Rams embarrassed the Indianapolis Colts 46-9 at home on Sunday, September 12. The win sent shockwaves across the league, and Rams fans rejoiced. That said, the Colts entered the game battered with a rebuilt roster, so some perspective is needed. Here are thoughts on the Rams’ win.
1. Jared Goff just needed a little time
Those fans and experts that labeled Goff as a bust might want to rethink their opinions. Goff looked comfortable in Sean McVay’s new offensive scheme. The offensive line struggled at times, but it provided him with a little extra time. We witnessed a poised quarterback, who made some impressive passes with that protection. He completed 21 of his 29 pass attempts for 306 yards and one touchdown. Goff won’t play the Colts defense every week, but the progress was there.
2. Welcome back Todd Gurley
Wait a minute, how could I even say that? He finished with 40 yards on 19 carries. Yes, Gurley labored for his yardage, but he impressed me with his involvement in the passing game. He caught five passes for 56 yards, tying him for first on the team in receptions.
Incorporating Gurley more into the passing game needed to happen for years. Making Gurley more versatile helps improve his overall value in offense, especially in the running game. Defenses will soon realize that stacking the box will be a liability, especially if the passing game establishes a rhythm. In other words, expect to see more improvement from Gurley and the entire offense.
3. Cooper Kupp is the real deal
He dominated the preseason, but he quickly proved that he was more than a training camp star. Kupp finished with four receptions for 76 yards and a touchdown, including an impressive one-handed catch. His focus is undeniable, and he is already one of Goff’s favorite targets. Kupp’s development remains critical for the offense. Fortunately, he continues to prove that he belongs in the NFL.
4. Adding Aaron Donald will be scary
The pass rush dominated the Colts at times, but it also gave Scott Tolzien too much space at other times. That should be expected out of a new defensive system. However, what I didn’t expect was the performance of the backups on the the defensive line. The unit showed that it was deeper than initially thought, which is a good sign for Aaron Donald’s pending return. Many players stepped up on the defensive line, including Ethan Westbrooks, Tanzel Smart and Tyrunn Walker. Oh, and Robert Quinn looked like himself as well. Now consider throwing in Donald, and quarterbacks will get little sleep over the thought of playing against the Rams defense. Good luck next weekend, Kirk Cousins.
5. Props to Lamarcus Joyner
Joyner stepped up against the Colts, and while it wasn’t a flawless performance, he impressed me. It wasn’t just the pick-six that caught my attention. Instead, his coverage stood out throughout the game, as evidenced by his two pass deflections. Hopefully, his performance is just the start of a breakthrough season for Joyner.
6. Superior coaching
If you watched any of the Rams’ games last season, the difference between the Fisher and McVay staffs was clear. Truthfully, McVay kept part of his offense hidden thanks to his defense scoring 14 points. His offensive strategy stayed basic for the most part, but the playcalling stood out as more diverse and unpredictable. Had former Jeff Fisher still been running the show, the Colts might have kept it a closer game.
Phillips continues to impress as a defensive coordinator. His defense finished with to two interceptions returned for touchdowns, one safety and four sacks. Moreover, the unit accomplished it without Donald. Just imagine what Phillips will unleash when Donald takes the field. The defense genuinely looked it had fun out there, but it won’t always be this easy. Bigger tests are on the horizon for these Rams.
7. Don’t let the final score fool you
I hate to be a downer, especially since the Rams pulled off such a dominant performance, but it was far from perfect. The most alarming stat remains the penalties, seven of them to be exact. Most of these penalties were completely unnecessary. Penalties will cost the Rams eventually if the discipline problems aren’t fixed soon. I attribute most of these to early season rust, but it is something to monitor considering the Rams were one of the most penalized teams in the league last year. Other issues needing addressed include tackling technique and the paltry running game.