2017-Present - McVay's run

Week 5 thoughts: Rams defense shines behind Donald

Photo credit: Brad Mills/USA Today Sports photographer.

In the back of everyone’s mind was, “Which L.A. team was going to show up in Landover, Maryland?” Would it be the ever powerful offensive team that is among the league leaders, or the one that struggled against the Giants just a week prior? Would the defense show up for a full game, or once again only show up in the second half of the game?

The Los Angeles Rams (4-1) produced their most complete game of the season, albeit with some errors along the way, and a suspect special teams unit that has not found its niche in this young season, winning 30-10 over the Washington Football Team (1-4).

Aaron Donald racked up four sacks on the day. Troy Reeder played inside linebacker for a dinged up Micah Kiser, added three more sacks to the Rams total of eight for the game. In all, the Rams gave up just 118 yards of total offense to Washington and laid waste to QB Alex Smith’s (six sacks) triumphant return to the football field.

The Rams offense showed signs of recovery against another NFL also-ran team, as they produced 429 yards of offense, 300 coming from Jared Goff and his receivers. The team saw the return of Cam Akers from injury, which obliged for nine carries and 61 yards, 46 coming on one play.

The one unit struggling at the one-third mark of the season is the special teams. Another missed kick, poor tackling and returners who seem afraid to do nothing more than fair catch the ball (7 of 31 yards) is causing some concern at this point of the season, because all three teams are needed to move past the better teams as the season progresses.

Observations:

  • Kicker Sam Sloman seems to have butterflies in his stomach or first kick jitters every game. This time it was a PAT kick that he hooked badly left after the team’s first touchdown of the game. Sloman settled in the rest of the game, as he has done in the previous games, and did not miss a kick the rest of the way.

It is possible that Sean McVay may need to shake up the cadence of the next game and call a first kick time out just to get Sloman’s mind right and let him breath a bit, before his first kick in the game.

Early on in the contest versus The Football Team, the momentum and outcome was decidedly different after Washington scored the go ahead TD and extra point, then added a late first half TD to grab the momentum at the half to make the score 20-10, and Sloman’s miss looked like it could cause some trouble.

  • Seven wide receivers caught passes from Goff, with Gerald Everett having his best game of the season thus far, and best since 2018.

I have to wonder though; it seems as if Tyler Higbee has fallen off of Goff’s radar since his three-touchdown performance. The thought here was Higbee was nearing the type of TE George Kittle has become. But his production has fallen off for sure. By design? Injury? With another road game in Santa Clara Sunday night, the Kittle-Higbee clash should be interesting.

  • If I was going to give a game ball, mine would go to Reeder! Stepping into the ILB role is no easy chore, but he made it look that way. He played like his hair was on fire with 11 tackles, eight solo, three sacks, and two additional tackles for a loss.

The defense would also get a game ball, as they held Washington to 2.1 yards per play, did not give up a play over 18-yards (one) and this time blanked the D.C. team in the second half allowing the Rams to decisively defeat the upset-minded Football Team.

  • Los Angeles has now swept the NFC East teams this season (3-0) and will begin their West campaign against the surprising 49ers (2-3). The Rams must continue to improve on their mental mistakes (i.e. Goff’s INT that was forced into coverage, Sloman hitting on all of his kicks) and not overlook teams as each week comes upon them. Just because San Francisco has had injuries, and were upset by Miami, easily I might add, doesn’t mean Jimmy Garrapolo and company won’t be fighting mad as their stars return from injury for a second game.

Getting to a 5-1 record this Sunday will be key to the Rams successfully returning to the playoffs.

You can follow Bob Smith on Twitter @amoresports. Be sure to follow Rams Talk on Twitter @TalkRams.

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