Rams put away Giants, move on to WFT
October 8, 2020
The Los Angeles Rams fly to the nation's Capitol this weekend with a chance to run the table on the NFC East Division this season. After a struggle to put away the New York Giants, 17-9, last Sunday at SoFi Stadium, the Rams will take on the Washington Football Team. Los Angeles will also need to adjust their defensive game plan as the WFT, currently riding a three-game losing streak, just switched starting quarterbacks on Wednesday.
It was the Rams defense that came through with a last-minute save against the Giants when cornerback Darious Williams intercepted quarterback Daniel Jones' intended pass to Damian Ratley at L.A.'s 5-yard line. The Rams now have a combined 13-3 record after the first four games of the season since 2017 under four-year head coach Sean McVay. The quick starts have been a factor in the Rams making the NFL Playoffs in two of the past three years.
"And then what can you say about Darious Williams? What an unbelievable pick to end the game. No win is easy, we don't take any for granted," said McVay after his Rams improved their season record to 3-1, all wins courtesy of the NFC East.
Williams: "I try to be basically like a red dot, someone that's dangerous on the field. I want every quarterback, I want everybody that ever targets me to know that it's a 50-50 chance to get the pick, so I just think really it's just the positions I'm in and capitalizing on them."
McVay said it was important "to keep this season rolling and have a full season and ultimately be able to get to the playoffs and get through crowning Super Bowl champs. So, that's where our focus and concentration... Then getting ready for the – man, I had to correct myself – Washington Football Team this week."
Washington's head coach Ron Rivera, in his first season with the team, pulled the trigger on second-year starting quarterback Dwayne Haskins after Sunday's 31-17 loss to the Baltimore Ravens. Haskins, who has started a total of 11 games for WFT, is being replaced by third-year quarterback Kyle Allen. Approaching futility at the most important position on the field, Washington has now started 30 quarterbacks in the past 28 seasons.
Allen, who was traded from the Carolina Panthers in the off-season as a backup to Haskins, went 5-7 in the 12 games he started last season. In his 15 career games for Carolina, he completed 62.1 percent of his passes for 3,588 yards, 19 touchdowns and 16 interceptions. He was unceremoniously sacked 46 times last season for a league-high 397 yards. Allen played for Rivera last season at Carolina before Rivera was fired after 12 games.
Rivera addressed the quarterback change: "Yes, we're going to start Kyle Allen, just because of our situation. You know, we gave Dwayne every opportunity to be our starter and he's kind of plateaued. We're looking for a spark, we're in a very interesting situation right now with our next four games."
The Rams will be ready for Allen or any other Washington quarterback on Sunday according to McVay: "He did a lot of good things. He's got some comfort and familiarity with Scott Turner (Washington O.C.) and running the system that they want to be able to activate. So, Kyle was a good football player... I just know that they've got two capable quarterbacks, really, three... So, we're just going to get ready for the guy that they're planning on playing, but you also have to have a plan for Dwayne Haskins as well."
McVay spent seven seasons coaching and developing with the Washington franchise from 2010-2016 before becoming the Head Coach of the Rams. He started out as an Assistant Tight Ends coach, spent three years as the Tight Ends Coach and the last three years as the Offensive Coordinator for Washington. "I had a great experience there. A large part of the growth of my coaching career occurred there and so many people that were so good to me that I care a lot about. Unfortunately, a significant amount of them aren't there anymore," recalled McVay.
Against the Giants, quarterback Jared Goff led the Rams to an opening drive touchdown for the third time this season. Tight end Gerald Everett ended the 12-play, 65-yard touchdown with a two-yard jet sweep. "I thought upfront, we were so good. We were really good upfront, both in the run and in the pass," said Goff about his frontline.
"I think that's one area that I know those guys take a lot of pride in and that they want to be known as one of the best in the league and I think up to this point, they have been. They've been really good and anytime that happens, it makes my job a lot easier. It makes our running backs jobs a lot easier and they've done a great job."
It was also a fumble by Everett on the team's second drive that changed the nature of the game. From that point, it turned into a defensive battle and/or an offensive shutdown. There were two field goals by Giants kicker Graham Gano and one field goal by Rams kicker Sam Sloman in the second quarter. Gano's field goal 45 seconds into the fourth quarter reduced the margin to one point, 10-9.
Seven minutes later Goff hit wide receiver Cooper Kupp in the middle of the field. Kupp put on the after-burners to complete a 55-yard touchdown pass. "They like bringing the nickel, kind of a little fire-zone most of the day," said Kupp. "We were able to get them to mis-communicate there, where they brought fires on both sides. No post safety got back and we were able to pekk it and Jared did a great job being able to hang in there."
The Rams defense preserved the win for the third time this season to keep the Rams perfect at SoFi Stadium with two wins and no losses in their new confines. "I think that we've experienced a lot of close games. All four of our games have come down to the last quarter and some to the last drive of the game. So, I think we've found out a lot about the caliber of people that we have," said Rams defensive coordinator Brandon Staley.
The importance is that the team is quickly establishing a winning identity at SoFi and marking that with a defense that can protect and close the door on opposing offenses in its new house. The only thing missing is a packed house of over 70,000 screaming fans to seal the deal. Next season seems a likely date for the Ram faithful to finally enjoy the bright shining gem in Inglewood.