Last night the Los Angeles Rams opened their season in underwhelming fashion, being dominated by division rival San Francisco in a 28-0 shutout loss. There’s a lot to break down following this game.
It starts with coaching: Just about the entire organization from top to bottom can be to blame for this dumpster fire of a debut last night, but it has to start with the coaching. Jeff Fisher did not have this team ready to play opening week. The team looked sloppy and undisciplined at times and the offense did not resemble anything that should ever be used in the NFL. This was much worse than “some 7-9 bullshit,” the Rams looked worse than any team in the NFL following Week 1. Fisher needs to make some serious adjustments or he shouldn’t be coaching this team.
This defense cannot succeed with this offense: The defense played as well as any team could given the circumstances. They had their breakdowns in the first half, getting abused by Blaine Gabbert on the ground and in the air at times, but only gave up 14 points with absolutely no help from the offense.
The third quarter showed the biggest strength of this team as well as the biggest flaw. The defense came out fired up after halftime, posting four consecutive three and outs. But how did the offense repay them? Three and out. Three and out. Gurley 10 yard run followed by a three and out. Then Tavon Austin gets a solid punt return to put the Rams in great field position, only to have Case Keenum throw a brutal interception and give the ball right back.
That interception was the end of the game. The defense did everything they could to put the offense in a position to succeed, and they absolutely dropped the ball four straight times. The defense was deflated and frustrated and gave up touchdowns on the next two drives. This group has holes, but they showed that they can be a dominant unit and one of the best in the league at times. But not when the offense doesn’t give them a chance to succeed.
Captains making boneheaded penalties is unacceptable: At two major moments in the game, the Rams two best players and team captains Todd Gurley and Aaron Donald both made major mistakes that didn’t affect the actual play. Gurley ran for a crucial first down and threw the ball in his opponents face, setting the Rams back 15 yards and out of field goal range. Aaron Donald had a late hit on Gabbert that negated a major stop and later in the game knocked Quinton Patton’s helmet off and got himself ejected.
I’m sure Donald and Gurley were frustrated. They played their asses off and their teammates failed them. But they cost their team by making these avoidable mistakes. Had this game still been in reach for the Rams, Donald’s ejection would have likely cost them the game. Hopefully the faces of the franchise can keep cooler heads next week and maybe the team will pick up on their passion and play as hard as they did.
The offensive line isn’t letting anyone succeed: Todd Gurley did all that he could possibly do. Despite rushing 17 times for 47 yards, he still forced seven missed tackles and landed himself a decent PFF grade of 74.4, the highest on the offense. The line gave him absolutely no room to work. This is in part due to the 49ers being able to stack the box. But the Rams need to give Gurley some room to work so he can show everyone why he’s considered one of the best in the league.
They didn’t do the passing game any favors either. The 49ers had five hits and two sacks on Case Keenum. The line didn’t protect him as well as they should have, but they aren’t entirely to blame for the passing game…
Case Keenum is not a starting NFL quarterback: He’s just not one of the 32 best quarterbacks on the planet. The running game was bad and the receivers dropped some passes, but Keenum looked terrible last night. He had two interceptions, and while one of them was a tipped pass at the line of scrimmage, the other was completely on Case and was the nail in the coffin for the Rams. He had no chemistry with Tavon Austin, only connecting with him on 4 of 12 targets.
Sure, the playcalling didn’t allow him to really open it up, but is there anything to even open up? How much faith do we have in allowing Case Keenum to sling the football all over the field? He’s a fine backup. Hell he might be one of the best backups in the NFL. But this guy should not be a starter and if the Rams truly want to give Goff more time to learn on the bench, it might not hurt to consider giving Sean Mannion a shot.
Steve Rebeiro is a staff writer and podcast host for Rams Talk. He graduated from Marquette University in 2016. For more of his opinions, follow him on Twitter here.