Rams travel east to face Giants after a win a Seattle
October 14, 2021
The Rams' 26-17 victory over the Seattle Seahawks on Thursday Night Football on October 7, gave them a 4-1 record for the 2021 season. After a brief weekend rest, the team prepares to avoid a trap game against the New York Giants this Sunday, October 17, at MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford, New Jersey. Kick off is set for 10 a.m.
"Let's put it this way, we've got the wrong guys if I have to convince them that they need to be ready to show up in this three-hour window of time," said Rams head coach Sean McVay addressing the potential his team looks past the Giants, who are 1-4 and in last place in NFC East. "We're not the team that I think we are if we're not able to handle them with that maturity and let that affect our process and our ability to focus and concentrate."
The Giants were further compromised in Sunday's 44-20 beatdown at the hands of the resurgent Dallas Cowboys when three key offensive players, quarterback Daniel Jones (concussion), running back Saquon Barkley (ankle), and wide receiver Kenny Golladay (knee) each had to taken off the field with injuries. However, the Giants reported Wednesday morning that Jones had returned to the practice field in full pads after he had been in concussion protocol since Monday.
Jones was carted off the field after taking a hit just short of the Cowboy goal line with three minutes left in second quarter. He was replaced by backup quarterback Mike Glennon in the second half. Neither was effective against the Dallas defense. Both combined for 21 of 39 completions for 294 yards, with Glennon credited with one passing touchdown and two interceptions.
Barkley suffered his unfortunate injury in the first quarter when he stepped on Dallas cornerback Jourdan Lewis' foot. Barkley is currently in a protection boot and hopes to return within the next few games. The gifted running back, diagnosed with an ankle sprain, has a history of injuries over the past two seasons including forcing him to miss 14 of 16 games last year. Golloday fortunately avoided a major injury and is also expected to return soon.
The Rams have a physical concern of their own as cornerback Darious Williams suffered an ankle sprain at Seattle late in the game. He is not expected to be available against the Giants and will likely be placed on the injured list with the possibility of returning in three weeks. Williams was instrumental in the 17-9 win over the Giants last season at SoFi Stadium as he intercepted a Daniel Jones pass at the Rams 5-yard line with 52 seconds remaining in the game.
McVay reminded everyone about the Giants very credible effort last season despite coming into Los Angeles with an 0-3 record while being disregarded by many. "They played really tough, stingy defense. We missed a couple opportunities, but we made enough plays where Darious came up in the clutch and we ended up hitting Kupp (Cooper, wide receiver) when we had to have it on a long touchdown."
The Rams most consistent team phases have come from the trenches. The defense led by Aaron Donald, Jalen Ramsey and Company have applied pressure to the opposing offensive lines all season. Coincidentally, it was Donald who knocked Russell Wilson out of the game when the Seattle quarterback who injured a finger on his throwing hand, hitting Donald's hand as he attempted to go deep with the throw.
Interestingly, Wilson had a successful surgery at the Cedars-Sinai Jobe Surgery Center last Friday. Cedars-Sinai just happens to be a Los Angeles Rams major sponsor with branding and signage well represented at SoFi Stadium. Wilson is expected to return late in the season.
Donald has sacked Wilson 14 times during his career and he has 88.5 total sack in his career with the Rams. Leonard Little and Kevin Greene rank next on the list, which officially started in the 1982 season, with 87.5 and72.5 respectively.
The Rams offensive front line has set the standard for execution on the team with five solid games. That's exemplified by the protection they've given Matthew Stafford, who was sacked a total of 385 times as quarterback of the Detroit Lions for the past 12 seasons. This year he has hit the backfield turf only four times, which is the least among all fulltime starting NFL quarterbacks this season. Stafford is also enjoying the highest quarterback ranking in his 13-year career.
Offensive line coach Kevin Carberry, hired in February earlier this year, has forged the group with assistants Nick Jones and Zak Kromer. Andrew Whitworth, Rob Havenstein, David Edwards, Austin Corbett, and Brian Allen have been stepped up to another level, along with the notable blocking by tight end Tyler Higbee, running back Darrell Henderson, and wide receivers Robert Woods and Cooper Kupp.
"I think that those guys have really been a stabilizing force and done so many good things that have enabled us to be able to push the ball down the field," said McVay about his offensive front. "Everybody wants to talk about explosives. But do you have the ability to create the time to have a feel for the soft spots in the pocket to distribute the field in a manner that's reflective of attacking some of these coverages when you can get plays down the field and you can't do that if you can't protect it?"
The Rams responded well after suffering their first loss against the Arizona Cardinals a few weeks ago. They gained 476 total offensive yards in the win at Seattle, a season high. It also improved the team's record to 7-3 (including last season's playoff win) against the Seahawks since McVay took over the helm in 2017. Stafford completed 25 of 37 passes for 365 yards, the highest total in his five games with the Rams.
Offensively, Robert Woods caught 12 of 14 passes targeted to him for 150 yards. Cooper Kupp caught seven passes for 92 yards, giving him at least five receptions in the past nine games dating back to last November. Veteran wide receiver DeSean Jackson continued to make an impact even with a single catch. His 68-yard reception on 3rd-and-10 in the third quarter set up a 5-yard touchdown run by Henderson two plays later, giving the Rams the permanent lead.
The Rams next three opponents, the New York Giants, Detroit Lions, and Houston Texans have a combined 2-13 record starting off the 2021 season. The Giants could easily have a 3-2 record, having lost two tight games against the Washington Football Team and the Atlanta Falcons by a combined four points. The winless Lions have suffered a similar fate, but the Texans are another matter.
McVay is determined to not let his team lighten up as their 4-1 record is tied for the second best in the league, "I don't care what the Giants' record is. They're pretty competitive, but there's no letdowns in this league. And if you think there are than you get humbled real quickly and that's just the truth."