While the Rams are 0-2 so far this season, there are several things that have looked really good in spots. It’s about putting together a full game maximizing the team’s upside and delivering a win not only for the team’s morale and the organization, but the fan base as well.
When I analyze the NFL as a whole through Week 2, there are several areas where the Rams have fallen short, and a lot of areas were they continue to climb and grow. Putting together a game in all three phases (offense, defense and special teams) is the key. Let’s take a look at team rankings and where the Rams stack up against the rest of the league.
Overall rankings within the NFC
Rams Offense = 10th 7th Rush; Tied for 8th Pass
Rams Defense = 9th 16th Rush; 1st Pass
When you compare them to the other 31 teams in the NFL
Rams Offense = 18th 14th Rush; Tied 14th Pass
Rams Defense = 20th 32nd Rush; Tied 4th Pass
The one thing that is glaring and really jumps out at me is the inability to stop the run after two games. While their pass defense is good, opponents are licking their chops to face the Rams and run the ball. Until the Rams defense takes a stand and stuffs the run, look for this ranking to remain the same. There is only one way to go when you’re in the cellar, and that’s up.
Let’s see how the Rams stack up against the NFL across the board
Offensively (plain type); Defensively (bold type)
- 1. Total yards per game – 18th / 20th
- 2. Yards per game – 23rd /10th
- 3. Rushing yards per game – 14th /32nd
- 4. Rushing yards per attempt – 8th /29th
- 5. Passing net yards per game – 14th (tied)/4th
- 6. Passing net yards per play – 23rd /5th
- 7. Passing, percentage had intercepted – 1st (tied)/20th
- 8. Sacks per pass play – 22nd /6th
- 9. First Downs per game – 19th /26th
- 10. Third down efficiency – 28th /26th
- 11. Fourth down efficiency – 8th /5th
- 12. Punt return average – 9th /9th
- 13. Kickoff return average – 17th /11th
- 14. Gross punting average – 19th /8th
- 15. Net punting average – 12th /15th
- 16. Points per game – 28th /28th
- 17. Field goal percentage – 19th /16th
When you combine both the offensive and the defensive rankings, the Rams are ranked 29th in points per game differential and 16th in net yards per game differential.
The stats for the first two weeks tell us that the Rams are struggling on defense, partly because they played two good football teams in the Eagles and the Giants. Philadelphia was explosive in every sense of the word, while the Giants were efficient with the football, when they needed to be. The Rams’ defense struggles to get off the field on third down and ranks 26th overall in that category. When I take a peek at the offense, the red zone has been a sore spot among coaches, players and fans, with the Rams dead last in the NFC (16th) and 31st when bumped against the rest of the NFL. This is the major area of concern. Improvement is needed, and the sooner the better. It might look a little better with the threat of a healthy Steven Jackson is in the backfield.
But when I watch the game tape, I see some simple mistakes that have hurt this team. The one stat not mentioned above is turnovers. There also have been penalties and plays that stopped the team’s momentum. This young team will have to learn in a hurry how to finish every play. That means tackling, blocking, catching and improving in the red zone with touchdowns not field goals. There’s also the matter of stopping the run no matter who they align across from.
This coming Sunday will be paramount that the Rams are able to run the ball. The Baltimore Ravens defense is No. 1 in the NFL against the run and 14th against the pass. With Cadillac Williams nursing a strained left hamstring and Jackson working his way back from a strained right quad, it is imperative the Rams find balance against a very physical defense that likes to pin their ears back and come get the opposing quarterback with relentless pressure. The defense will have their hands full on Sunday. They will be tested often by a very talented runner in Ray Rice. Stop the run and win the turnover battle, allowing Sam Bradford more opportunities than Joe Flacco (Ravens quarterback) or it could, and will, be a long day for the Rams.