The first thing to acknowledge is a grand failure can be a time for learning. And didn’t we all learn a lot about the Los Angeles Rams when they got their butts kicked in San Francisco on Monday?
The upshot is that L.A. might have had as much success running the flying-wedge offense last night if Congress had allowed it. Strap on the leather helmets, boys, it’s gonna be a dangerous ride to the outskirts of Concussionville.
The primary takeaway from this 28-0 wreckage is that most of it is the offense’s fault. The Rams gained just 185 yards, only 65 of it on the ground. The Rams took great pride in their running game, with last season’s rookie of the year running back Todd Gurley finishing as the league’s third-leading carrier. A good running game in the NFL is about 150 yards.
If you watched the game, the Niners were all too happy to commit more men into “the box,” football parlance for defenders lined up between the offensive tackles and no more than five yards from the line of scrimmage. They dared L.A. to pass, and the Rams were utterly dreadful.
Case Keenum didn’t even complete half of his passes (17-for-35). Wait, scratch that. If you count the two interceptions he threw, technically he did.
Even worse is wide receiver Tavon Austin’s four receptions. Keep in mind, Austin signed a contract extension before the start of the year with a princely sum befitting a No.1 receiver. If you’re going to get paid like a No.1 receiver, you have to produce like one. Four receptions for 13 yards won’t make anyone outside of your own family believe you’re the next Torry Holt.
As often happens when an offense gets humiliated to this extent, the defense flips out. Defensive lineman Aaron Donald is likely facing suspension for losing his mind and getting ejected. I’d like to tell you I witnessed what he did, but I don’t even want to listen to Chris Berman on commentary during good times.
Ultimately, there’s no way you get rid of Keenum, Austin or Gurley. What usually happens is ownership wants answers. And coach Jeff Fisher might point to offensive coordinator Rob Boras.
How do you break up a defense that stacks its men on the line of scrimmage? One way is the threat of long passes. Austin should have been running wind sprints to draw defenders with him, whether or not Keenum could throw the ball in that direction. If Austin is averaging three yards per reception, he may as well have never left the huddle because he sure as hell didn’t leave the line of scrimmage.
I don’t claim firing Boras will be an instant cure, nor do I believe he will be cut after one game.
However, Fisher has yet to finish a winning season with the Rams. This team is under pressure to win more than lose now, let alone lose by four touchdowns.
Expect Boras to face heat quickly, because it won’t get any easier for the Rams.