Rams vs. Giants - Week 4 recap
3 keys to outcome
1.) Defensive determination
What a showing from this 2020 Los Angeles Rams defense. Just nine points allowed. And yet again, another 3-point second half. They won at the point of attack for the most of the day. Combined with some very, um, messy decision-making from New York Giants QB Daniel Jones (more on that in a bit), the Rams controlled the most important part of the field and kept the lid on at the back with another fantastic showing from the secondary.
2.) No Rams rushing
The Rams gained just 58 yards on the ground in a game where fans were asking for more from RB Darrell Henderson, Jr. His disappearance throughout the middle of the game was somewhat inexplicable, but the results ratify that more than anything. The Rams will need to get more out of their rushing game to make the playaction more viable and set up better third down situations than they dealt with today.
3.) New York talent deficit
A lot of this just comes down to the fact that the Giants' roster on paper is by and large, to use a football term, bad. Jones was creating his own sacks for much of the day. The line couldn't due much. They don't have sufficient targets in the passing game. Their defensive front isn't terribly impressive. And you can work through their secondary. As fun as it was to see Rams WR Cooper Kupp scamper 55 yards for the touchdown, he doesn't get there if Giants S James Bradbury does, well, anything except what he did:
Feel a bit for Giants fans as they're going to need time to build a roster out that can win games for HC Joe Judge...or whoever Judge is replaced by.
5 key factors revisited (from game preview)
1.) Nothing to gain v. nothing to lose
This was the setup as soon as Week 3 came to a close with as good as the Rams had looked and as poor as the New York Giants had. Sure, we all would've liked a blowout. And sure, it looked like it could head that way on paper.
But the NFL loves to take those kinds of setups and discard of them.
As it was, the Rams always had a good chance of coming out of this one looking worse than they did in a loss a week prior.
What a weird sport.
2.) Rams' pass rush
They were fine today, but overall it was a combination of poor offensive line play from the Giants and some weird perhaps desperate plays from Jones. The Rams ended up with five sacks and eight QB hits in the end, but that was more a factor of the opposition's performance than the Rams'.
3.) Hendo extendo
Well, this became a factor but not in the way Rams fans were hoping. Where in the world was Hendo? He finished with just eight carries to RB Malcolm Brown's nine leaving many fans calling for #Hendoszn throughout the game. In fact, the Rams ran the ball 17 times with their running backs while throwing it 32 times. It was the least balanced attack of the year, and the disjointed results suggested it was perhaps not the most optimal decision.
4.) Rotation rundown
While we didn't get it due to a blowout, we did get some interesting work on defense. The snap counts will tell a bit of the tale, but along with the injury to ILB Micah Kiser we saw a bunch of Rams defenders get their most work of the year.
5.) K Sam Sloman
Thankfully, he nailed his lone field goal attempt. It was more important than it should've needed to be, but he did his job which is all we can ask.
3 key matchups revisited (from game preview)
1.) Rams' O-line v. Giants' defensive front
They were fine early on, but the lack of holes in the running game were perhaps what motivated the lack of Hendo as well as a funky 2nd half adjustment. QB Jared Goff was well-protected in general, but the Rams created too many adverse situations (especially 3rd and long plays) to really excel here.
2.) Rams DT Aaron Donald v. Bills' O-line
They did as well as they could have with AD99...and about as poorly as they could have otherwise. As good as the defensive backs were, the Rams really made the Giants' day much harder the way things went up front.
3.) Rams HC Sean McVay v. himself
WELP. More on this this week, because this is probably the biggest story of the game. As much as we can lament the offensive performance, McVay simply didn't put them in position to succeed as much as he had the first three weeks. Which, given that it was against a pretty hapless Giants team, is quite odd to say the least.
While his day was unspectacular, I didn't think he did a ton poorly. As I mentioned above, I think McVay didn't do him any favors, and those long 3rd downs just weren't set up for him to succeed in. Better days ahead for the System QB.
RB: ? (but also C-)
Befuddling more than anything else. We'll see if we get any clarity from McVay, but Brown was largely ineffective at creating shorter 3rd downs and Hendo didn't explode. Better days ahead for the Rams' RBBC.
I'll need to look at the All-22 mid-week, but it looked like the receivers' worst day to date. Goff was looking for more from them throughout and didn't get the opportunities to get them more work.
I'd lean toward a B- or C+ here except for one play: the early fumble from TE Gerald Everett. And it's even a bit harsh since he was really unlucky. It was less of a fumble due to ball security issues and more down to just getting a helmet on the ball in an unsuspecting situation. Still, it clearly disrupted the offensive flow, and nearly put the Rams in disaster mode late.
The work in the passing game was a plus, but they didn't maul the way they had the first few games. If they rebound and get back to better work on the ground, I won't be too worried here. If though this portends future struggles to open things for the backs, that's going to limit playaction effectiveness and set up tougher third downs. And as the Rams showed today going 5/13, that's not a great recipe.
They messed with the Giants' O-line all day. Outside of the 26-yard scamper late from RB Wayne Gallman and a 10-yard run from RB Devonta Freeman, they gave little room in run defense. Strong performance from the group up front.
EDGE: A ILB: B+
About as much as we can ask for from the edge rushing depth chart. And the Rams were already hobbled on the inside with the pre-season injury to Travin Howard. If Micah Kiser misses time due to his groin injury, the Rams might need to get creative to paper over that gap.
The two best units for the Rams this season have been the offensive line and the secondary. Jones threw the ball 36 times for 190 yards, no touchdowns and a pick. They just continue to excel at the back.
Another issue with Cooper Kupp in punt returns, but Sloman was perfect, we got a 41-yard kick return from Raymond Calais and the Giants didn't do anything notable with their teams units.
Just a weird offensive day for McVay. The Rams didn't blow any timeouts, and things went great on defense. But man...weird taste in the mouth after this one.
Not a great day with the ball, but the defense was spectacular.
The issue was always the narrative. Anything less than a blowout was going to feel inappropriate given how these two played their first three games. So as it stands, sure. You probably feel a bit weirder and/or worse about this win than the loss a week ago against the Buffalo Bills.
But hey. The Rams are 3-1 and get a chance to get back on the topside of things against a very unspectacular Washington Football team next week though it sadly means we say farewell to the NFC East.
Into the second quarter of the season we go...