Since I can’t see the Rams in LA…

I lucked out Sunday. StubHub had a front row seat for me to watch the Rams in a drunken stupor.

I mean, I was the one in the drunken stupor, not the Rams. Whoops.

Anyway, they beat Tampa Bay 37-32, and I think I speak for sports fans from sea to shining sea when I say there are few things sweeter in life than your team winning a road game that you witness.

But from that excellent vantage point, there is not a strong list of reasons to believe the Rams are going to make the NFL playoffs. This game was more about cleaning up unfinished business, such as scoring their first touchdown — which Case Keenum did on the Rams first possession, a 44-yard pass to Brian Quick.

While long pass plays draw an emotional reaction, it underscored a simple reality: the Bucanneers have a horrible pass defense. Consider Keenum threw two TD passes. The second came to Tavon Austin on a similarly long pass play. On both plays, the cornerback didn’t have help from the safeties — whose primary responsibility is to prevent the deep ball.

When receivers turn around and backpedal in the act of catching a football, that’s because the receiver is so wide open he can almost signal for a fair catch.

L.A. can surely be pleased with its defensive line depth, which was considered an elite group before the Rams returned. Aaron Donald was said by NFL pundits to be on the level of Houston’s all-everything J.J. Watt prior to the season. Sunday, he deflected two passes. Even more important, for two consecutive weeks, Robert Quinn forced an opposing quarterback to fumble. Jameis Winston’s fumble Sunday was returned for a TD.

That praise has to be tempered, though. A Rams defensive lineman has been ejected two times in three games. I did not see what Eugene Sims did to earn his ejection, but as we used to say when someone at the party was about to throw up, “Dude, you’ve got to maintain.”

Even more alarming is that Winston threw for 405 yards Sunday. How much of that is on the Rams cornerbacks as opposed to the line, I’m not sure. However, as the Rams will be playing an excellent Arizona Cardinals offense this week, the gut feeling is L.A.’s defense might get further exposed.

Todd Gurley rushed for 85 yards that weren’t particularly noticeable, except for excellent balance on a touchdown run.

The upshot is this: The Rams aren’t a bad football team. In my opinion, in the NFL, with the exception of elite franchises or the utterly awful ones, all teams in the middle can be counted on to play a horrible game every four weeks. Why did the Buffalo Bills crush the Cardinals 33-18? Because Arizona is pretty damn good, but not elite. All of those teams in the middle will play way over their heads a couple of times a year and most can’t get out of their own way once a month.

The Rams had their September stinker in San Francisco to start the year, a 28-0 loss that still makes me cringe.

So it will take a lot more than five touchdowns against another middle-of-the-road team to see Los Angeles as more than what it is, especially since October is coming with one game sure to be a stink bomb in the process.

Which is sobering reality.

The offensive coordinator is likely the first fall guy for the Rams

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.

Austin, the Rams huge offensive risk

Last night, before the Los Angeles Rams played an exhibition game against defending Super Bowl champ Denver, the team announced it will pay wide receiver Tavon Austin $42 million by extending his contract through the 2021 season.

And then they didn’t score a touchdown and lost 17-9.

Granted, it’s an exhibition game against the Broncos and their elite defense, and Austin by all accounts is a quality guy to have on the team.

But this curious move sounds like one that will backfire.

The amount of money Austin will earn makes him — in NFL parlance — a “true No. 1 receiver.” There isn’t any evidence to suggest he is one. For example, the No. 8 overall pick from 2013 reached career highs last season with 52 receptions, 10 touchdowns and 907 yards from scrimmage.

Note that I didn’t write 907 reception yards. A true No. 1 receiver should be counted on to approach 1,000 per season. He’s never had more than 500. Also, a true No. 1 receiver should challenge for 100 receptions in a season. Coach Jeff Fisher sees that as a possibility. But until there’s evidence to back it up, you’re asking Austin to double his output based on a hunch.

That’s $42 million worth of conjecture you’re trying to fit under a salary cap.

So Austin should be paid on the level of Dez Bryant, Julio Jones or Demaryius Thomas? I don’t see it, particularly when you also consider that his presence on the field doesn’t necessarily lead to other opportunities for the rest of a poor Rams receiving corps. A true No. 1 receiver should draw double teams, leading to open teammates. That didn’t happen last year, either.

To be clear, the Rams’ first-team struggles during the exhibition season have been wisely self-inflicted. L.A.’s offense is based on the production of running back Todd Gurley, last season’s offensive rookie of the year. Fisher held Gurley out of all but one offensive series. The Chargers used to do the same thing with LaDainian Tomlinson, knowing the back would be getting the ball 30-plus times per game. Why expose Gurley to extra pointless hits?

But to deserve $42 million, you’re supposed to be on a level where you can produce even when Gurley is on the bench.

This contract is another land mine in the DMZ that is L.A’s offense. The franchise traded a handful of draft picks for quarterback Jared Goff, who won’t play at the start of the year but that’s an acceptable risk. Gurley not playing is an acceptable risk.

Austin’s contract makes three risks — which should give people pause — just like the Rams offense could be hesitating in their return to Southern California.