Originally published by RamsNewswire.com
The Los Angeles Rams were coming off perhaps the biggest high of their season in Week 8 after defeating the Chicago Bears on Monday Night Football in Week 7 to improve to 5-2 on the year.
Unfortunately, that high came crashing down as they played arguably the worst game of their season, losing to the Miami Dolphins, 28-17, on the road to head into their bye week at 5-3.
Let me clarify that last sentence though because as far as their overall play goes, the Rams outplayed Miami for most of the afternoon. This was a case of the Rams beating themselves though as they turned the ball over four times in the first half, which essentially led to 21 of the Dolphins’ points.
Add in a punt return for a touchdown and the Dolphins took a 28-7 lead in the second quarter that they never looked back from, resulting in the 28-17 final score. L.A. rallied late but it ultimately wasn’t enough to pull out the victory.
Here are some observations, both good and bad, from the Week 8 contest:
Let me start this off by saying that Jared Goff has been really good this season. Going into Week 8, he had only four turnovers in seven games and had the highest fourth-quarter passer rating among all quarterbacks.
It turns out a lot of that may have been a product of his offensive line though as they did not protect Goff against the Dolphins, and the results were flat out horrible.
Goff turned the ball over four more times, throwing two interceptions and fumbling twice to double his number of turnovers in 2020 to eight.
To make matters worse, all of those turnovers came at bad times and immediately led to points. Goff’s first interception came in his own territory late in the first quarter and the Dolphins capitalized with their first touchdown just six plays later.
After the Dolphins fumbled on their next drive, Goff and the offense were set up well in the red zone. Instead of scoring a touchdown, or even coming away with a field goal to take a 10-7 lead, Goff was sacked and fumbled, which was returned for a touchdown to give Miami a 14-7 lead. That’s, at the very least, a 10-point swing.
The Rams then went three-and-out, which forced a punt that was returned 88 yards for a touchdown by Jakeem Grant to make it 21-7.
Goff then threw yet another interception, which luckily didn’t lead to points. On his next drive, however, he was sacked and fumbled once again, and Miami was able to return it to the Rams’ 1-yard line, punching it in for a touchdown on the next play.
So in a matter of minutes, Goff turned the ball over four times and the Rams’ 7-0 lead was suddenly a 28-7 deficit that simply was too much to overcome.
There’s no way to sugarcoat it. That can’t happen. That stretch cost the Rams the game and as a quarterback and team leader, Goff has to be able to minimize that damage and not get out of hand in the manner that it did.
Sure, the offensive line has to do a better job protecting Goff since we all know he isn’t very mobile. Taking sacks doesn’t lose you games though. Turnovers do.
Run the ball, Sean
While we’re on the subject of Goff, McVay and the Rams’ offense, let’s talk about their run game, or lack thereof.
This has become a theme so far this season and was the case again against the Dolphins. The Rams ran the ball 29 times in the game, finishing with 131 rushing yards, good for 4.5 yards per carry.
Those numbers aren’t bad, except when factoring in that Goff threw the ball 61 times in the game. Sure, a lot of those attempts came in garbage time when Goff was trying to bring them back.
But the excessive throwing began before the game got out of hand and was a contributing factor in the turnover fest that Goff had in the first half.
McVay’s job is to take pressure off Goff and despite having three quality running backs that are all playing well, he has been putting more pressure on his quarterback by making him go out and win the game with his arm.
Goff’s 284 passing attempts are the fourth-most in the league and put him on pace for 568 this season. That would actually be lower than his career-high of 626 in 2019, although that was arguably Goff’s worst season, so it is clear that running the ball more is a recipe for success for this Rams team.
Rams defense continues to be great
Lost in the sauce of Goff turning the ball over four times was that the defense actually played really well. Both of the Dolphins’ offensive touchdowns came on a short field, one of which started at the 1-yard line, as previously mention.
The Rams dominated the Dolphins in total yards (471 to 145) and time of possession (36:29 to 23:31). A lot of that was a credit to the defense, who made Tua Tagovailoa’s first NFL start a nightmare for most of the day.
Aaron Donald came up with a strip-sack of Tagovailoa on just the second play of the game, which was the first of two turnovers in addition to a sack by L.A.
The Rams have a lot of issues to work through during their bye week, but it is clear that Brandon Staley and the defense are playing at a high level halfway through the season. They currently rank second in yards allowed (291.9) and third in points allowed (19.0).
Jalen Ramsey was missed
Unfortunately, the lone blemish for the Rams’ defense was on a 3-yard touchdown by Dolphins wide receiver DeVante Parker. The closest defender on that play was second-year cornerback David Long Jr., who was only in because All-Pro Jalen Ramsey was forced to miss the game due to an illness.
Ramsey is currently going through the coronavirus (COVID-19) protocol to determine what the illness is, but regardless, he should be able to return after the bye week.
He was greatly missed in Week 8 though so hopefully he gets well soon and is back on the field in Week 10 to resume his Pro Bowl season.
Kicking is still an issue
The Rams made a change at the kicker position this past week, releasing rookie Samuel Sloman and signing veteran Kai Forbath. That unfortunately didn’t lead to better results as Forbath went 1-for-2 on field goals, missing a 48-yarder with 3:42 left in the game.
L.A. was down by 11 at the time, so that field goal could have made it a one-possession game as opposed to completely ending the Rams’ chances at a comeback.
Forbath will probably get another chance out of the bye, but the results will have to be better if he wants to keep the job for the remainder of the season.
Bye week the Seahawks up next
As previously mentioned, the Rams have now reached the halfway point of their season and head into their bye week at 5-3. They have two weeks to prepare for a tough Seattle Seahawks team that is currently the class of the NFC West at 6-1.
The post Observations & Analysis From Rams’ Rough Week 8 Loss To Dolphins appeared first on Rams Newswire.