Matthew Farnham: Sean McVay must keep wraps off Rams’ wrecking ball

Tampa Bay Buccaneers' wide receiver Chris Godwin, top, is tackled by LA Rams' Eric Weddle. Picture: AP.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers' wide receiver Chris Godwin, top, is tackled by LA Rams' Eric Weddle. Picture: AP.
Share this article
0
Have your say

Losing a Super Bowl hurts and no one knows that more than New England Patriots head coach Bill Belichick. But Belichick has balanced any pain with his eight personal winners rings.

The most recent Super Bowl loser and youngest head coach to ever take a team to the NFL’s showcase event, Sean McVay, seemed to be questioning his skillset a little this season. McVay has made adjustments to the LA Rams’ explosive offense – almost taming the beast that tore through the league last year.

Last season the Rams were akin to a wrecking ball through the defenses of the league. Running with ease, teasing with passes underneath and then throwing the ball long, they made it all seem fun.

This year they appear to be have got off to a stunted start. Entering last weekend they had three wins and zero losses, but on Sunday night in a game which many expected the Rams to win, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers showed that nothing can be assumed in the NFL.

The Bucs moved the ball with ease over the typically staunch Rams defense and ended the game as 55-40 winners and deservedly so. The Buccaneers played well through all three phases and put the Rams offense through the wringer. The Rams should take note – this was a Tampa performance reminiscent of last season’s LA.

There was one real positive for McVay and the Rams. With the LA team chasing the game, the newly-applied shackles came off and, surprisingly, the old smash-and-grab football was there.

A reflection on the game will tell you that theRams quarterback, Jared Goff, threw three interceptions and coughed up a fumble. But those three interceptions were thrown almost as part of the more conservative gameplan. Goff made more tight-window throws than any other quarterback in the league, showing that he can – when confident – put the ball where it needs to be.

Running back Todd Gurley cuts a frustrated figure after a reduced workload on the back of being diagnosed with arthritis in the knee during the summer. But on Sunday –in particular – Gurley’s first touchdown was a repeat of the strong, powerful and elusive player feared around the league over the past few seasons.

McVay should look at the offensive performance and start unleashing his previous offensive schemes once more while unwrapping Gurley’s cotton wool and setting the back free.

The result on paper will look bad for LA, but if McVay takes away that he only ever needed to tweak the offense and not make more significant adjustments, the LA Rams could well find momentum again.

New England continued their dominance of Buffalo with a 16-10 win, although the Bills should take heart that they held the Patriots so close. In the other battle between unbeaten teams, Kansas City were pushed right to the end by the Detroit Lions. The Chiefs needed to rely on a running attack more than QB Patrick Mahomes’ talent with the backs combining for three touchdowns.

Atlanta Falcons continued to struggle, losing to the Tennessee Titans in a game with a total of three points in the second half, and the lack of offensive production will concern both teams. The Miami Dolphins continued their dismal start to the season with a 30-10 loss to the LA Chargers, who are set to get stronger with Melvin Gordon returning from his contract holdout.

There were also comfortable wins by New York Giants and Cleveland Browns. The Giants’ new era under Daniel Jones has been a breath of fresh air with two straight wins. The fanbase, who berated the pick in the NFL draft are now looking forward to at least a positive season. Cleveland will take pride in a massive win over division rivals Baltimore. A game that was closer than the final 40-25 score indicates, it will make the Browns fans believe again.

Elsewhere, there were wins for Seattle, Chicago and Carolina. Meanwhile, Jacksonville Jaguars fans continue to be engrossed in Minshew Mania. When new franchise QB Nick Foles went down with an injury, nobody expected sixth-round draft pick, Minshew, to be the sensation he has.

So far, the Washington State graduate has thrown seven touchdowns and only one interception and won his last two games in the process.