Rams-Saints: The Good, the Bad, the Ugly

]The Los Angeles Rams once again were not able to overcome a lengthy sheet of injuries this week against the New Orleans Saints, losing 20-27 in a match that ended with Bryce Perkins as the quarterback. Next week the Rams will do the Kansas City Chiefs and will likely be without their starting quarterback, their number one receiver, and their 11th offensive line rotation in 11 games, but until then let’s take a look at the Good, the Bad, and the Ugly from Week 11.

The Good

No more “run it back” distractions

With the season in shambles after their most recent loss, Les Snead and Sean McVay can finally put aside their win-it-now mentality and begin to do something they have not done in some time, which is to think about next year.

For the last six years the Rams front office have put their name in the bag for every big free agent opportunity, have been in numerous trade talks, and have often walked out as the winner in those transactions, but the “F them picks” motto has grown stale as they sit at 3-7 and at the bottom of the NFC West division. Right now, everyone on the field is putting on an audition tape to be on the team next year, but that also means the possibility for players who haven’t gotten their chance. If the team can find some diamonds in the rough it could cut some years off of a potential full-blown rebuild.

Losing is easier when you’ve done it seven times

I don’t care what anyone says, losing does get easier. After dropping their fourth straight game and seven losses on the season in just 10 games, there is no real expectation of winning. The weight of the playoffs and “running it back” has fallen from the shoulders of us fans and we can finally watch LA play without slinging curse words at the television or throwing remotes across the room. We have been conditioned to expect head-scratching play calls, the defense playing 10 yards off the line of scrimmage, ill-advised turnovers, and the non-existent run game when the Rams need it most. And hey, would you give back the Super Bowl for a winning season this year? Absolutely not.

All Tutu does is score

For the entire season I have been up and down on Tutu Atwell, as has most of our writers this year, but maybe it is not Atwell’s fault. Every time the second round draft pick sets foot on the field he seems to score. Stafford’s 66-yard bomb to him this weekend was both exhilarating and confusing. Exhilarating because Atwell looked like the cheetah as he out-ran the entire defense and put up a piece sign in celebration, but confusing because why has McVay not given him more chances to be on the field?

Sure, the second-year receiver out of Louisville is undersized and ricochets off of defenders when he is tackled, but if they can never catch him what’s the point? With the season lost and Stafford in limbo for the rest of the season, it’s time to see what the speedster can do going forward.

The defense continues to get torched

In the last two weeks the Rams once prolific defense has been shredded by the likes of Colt McCoy and most recently Andy Dalton. The Saints journeyman quarterback put together one of his best games this season, throwing only four incompletions the entire game and finishing with 260 yards passing, three touchdowns, and a QBR of 149.6. It’s one thing for the LA’s young defenders to be making the mistakes, but on Sunday it was the veterans that were lacking.

Jalen Ramsey has not been the same since getting beat multiple times in the Super Bowl. Quarterbacks are no longer afraid to throw at him and when they do it usually ends in a big play for them or he drops the easy interception and gives life to the opposition. Aaron Donald is also having one of his worst seasons in his NFL career and looks to be slowing down as father-time approaches; he finished with a single quarterback hit and two tackle for losses. On the season he sits at an uninspiring five sacks and is on track to miss his first Pro Bowl in his career. LA’s veterans look aged.

Darrell Henderson’s chances to stay on the team

With Henderson in a contract year he has had every reason to show up and show up big this season. With Cam Akers in disputes with the team and Kyren WIlliams hurt for the majority of the season, the last back standing was Hendo—and yet he has barely been used. It could be their is a health concern the team is hiding like they did with Todd Gurley years ago, it could be that he just is not that good, or it could even be that McVay just does n’t like him in his di he. Whatever the case may be, time is running out for him in a Rams uniform. Akers looked nimble against the Saints and Williams appears to be everything LA could have wanted when they drafted him this offseason. With the end closing in, Henderson will likely before the start of next season and try to find a team that actually gives him an opportunity to play on Sundays.

Injuries continue to pile up

The offensive line continues to revolve following Ty Nsekhe’s ankle injuring during the Saints game and likely means that backup Bobby Evans will get the start against the Kansas City Chiefs next week—which might be a nightmare to watch. This year hasn’t been kind to LA with injuries piling up on the offensive side of the ball. With the offensive line decimated, Stafford has not had very good protection so it is no surprise that he is concussion protocol for the second time in three weeks.

Because Stafford was out against the Cardinals in Week 10, John Wolford was able to float an overthrown pass to Cooper Kupp which caused him to land on his ankle awkwardly (I get it I can’t blame an injury on a QB, but still) . It’s safe to say that this year is simply not the Ram’s year.

The Ugly

Matthew Stafford goes into concussion protocol

Stafford’s second concussion in three weeks could mean him being held out for the rest of the year, but it could also mean something much bigger. The 14-year veteran quarterback has been a model of resilience and has fought through a number of injuries in his past.

He has prioritized his team over his health since entering the league, but at 34 years old it is a wonder how much longer he can fight through his injuries. Stafford has not even began his five year deal with Los Angeles, but it might be time to start looking for other options that are viable backups or potential starters next year just in case. The long time Detroit quarterback has been able to mark his name in the NFL history books with incredible stats and memorable moments, he has helped Calvin Johnson and Cooper Kupp break records as receivers, and last year he did the unthinkable when he won a Super Bowl —what is there left to do? This is all speculation of course, but is it crazy to think this could be his last year?

What do you think? Let me know in the comments below!

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