Rams' Problems Remain In Loss To New England
December 8, 2016
It's what everybody expected. The Los Angeles Rams became Tom Brady's 201st victim as the New England Patriot set an all-time record for most wins by a starting NFL quarterback.
And clearly, the Rams' incompetent offense never threatened in a 26-10 loss on a cold and clear Sunday December 4th afternoon in Gillette Stadium, Foxborough, Massachusetts.
On the other side of the coin L.A. rookie quarterback Jared Goff has yet to register a win in three starts as the Rams' offense sputtered to a new low in yardage gained this season. The Rams gained a total of 162 net yards while being dominated in time of possession with 37:53 to 22:03 minutes in favor of the Pats.
The loss was an inopportune response to the early Sunday morning news that Jeff Fisher's contract as the Rams' head coach was extended through the 2018 season. Fisher's won-loss record since he took over the team in 2012 is 31-44-1. His overall 22-year NFL head coaching record is 173-164-1.
Despite the extension it's possible the Rams can buy out the contract
Fisher's teams have made the playoffs six years including an appearance with the Tennessee Titans in Super Bowl XXXIV in 2000. Coincidentally, the Titans lost that NFL Championship Game to the then-St. Louis Rams coached by Dick Vermeil, 23-16.
Fisher is also one loss away from tying Dan Reeves' (165-190-2) all-time regular season futility mark for NFL coaches.
Fisher: "The elephant in the room is the offense. I get it. We're working hard on it and we're doing everything we possibly can. We got to get better. When you're playing someone like Tom and you convert one third-down offensively and give them so many more opportunities, it's hard to win games.
"The issues, with respect to this game, were offensive issues. We're struggling. We've got to get better there. You can't do what we did in this game against a quarterback like Tom (Brady)," said Fisher during Monday's press conference.
"For example we were just one-of-12 on third down and that just doesn't get it done. We had three third down drops that would have probably ended up being conversions. But because of inefficiency on third down, he keeps the ball for 36 minutes."
Constantly under pressure as the Patriot defense recorded four sacks, Goff was hampered by inconsistent throws and dropped passes. There was one positive sign in the waning moments: a fourth-and-11 situation at the Los Angeles 33-yard line coming out of the two-minute warning during the Rams' last drive of the game.
Goff connected on a deep 66 yard-pass play to wide receiver Kenny Britt to the New England one-yard line. Two plays later Goff hit Britt in the back of the endzone for the fourth touchdown pass of his career, clearly the kind of execution the Rams and their fans are expecting from the#1 draft choice.
"Yeah, we had a lot of errors across the board, really, offensively, myself and everybody really. Errors are obviously going to happen... Things don't always go your way, but you can't let that keep happening. You just have to try to limit them," said Goff.
"It's just the way they (Pats' defense) mix everything up. They don't really do the same thing twice often. They do a good job up front with their games and were able to confuse us upfront front and do some good things... Everything they had did, I had seen. It was just never consistent I guess, which makes it a little hard."
Brady and the Patriots ran 75 offensive plays compared to 49 for the Rams, racking up 402 total yards as he completed 33 of 46 passed for 269 yards and one touchdown thrown. New England scored on six of their 12 offensive drives. Kicker Greg Zuerlein added a 44-yard field goal for Los Angeles in the third quarter.
The lack of a sustained Ram offense is now affecting their defense. The L.A. defense spent 61% of the game time on the field and yielded 957 total yards offensively for 77 points over the past two games combined. In comparison, the defense held the opposition to 972 total yards and 50 points total for the previous four games combined.
Srong safety T.J. McDonald on Brady: "It wasn't so much we didn't expect, he went up tempo a little bit. He got them into the right calls so it's tough. He's a great quarterback. He gets the ball where it's supposed to be. They jumped out on us early. We did a good job responding in the second half. We just couldn't get it done today."
The Rams, 4-8, will next host the 7-5 Atlanta Falcons, tied for first place in the NFC South with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, this Sunday, December 11, at the Coliseum where the Rams are 1-3 this season.
The Falcons have lost two of their last three games including a 29-28 home defeat to the Arizona Cardinals last Sunday.
Atlanta is led by nine-year quarterback Matt Ryan having a career year with a 112.3 QB rating, 27 touchdowns for 3,813 yards and only seven interceptions.
Devonta Freeman leads in rushing with 785 yards on 176 carries. Star receiver Julio Jones has 72 receptions for 1,253 yards for an impressive 17.4 yards-per-catch average.
Keanu Neal leads the team in tackles with 79. Vic Beasley leads in sacks with 10.5 for 60 yards loss. Atlanta, the NFL's top-ranked offense, will be a test for Los Angeles' 10th ranked defense.
The Rams' offense has ranked last all season. The Rams lead the all-time series with the Falcons, 47-28-2.
"We certainly have a challenge with the Atlanta Falcons. Their offense is playing really, really well, their defense is, I think, underrated and they're well-coached on special teams," said Fisher.
"He's (Matt Ryan) playing really well. He's making all the throws, he's extending plays... I think the offensive line is playing really playing well and he gets rid of the football. Then Julio (Jones) is as good as there is in the league right now. It'll be a great challenge for us."
A fair amount of local, national and social sports media have been calling for Fisher's dismissal ever since the team arrived in Los Angeles early this year.
The team's poor record, unproductive offense, muted entertainment value and contract extension have ramped up the chatter. To Fisher's credit and for his sake, resilience has emerged as a virtue.