In a standout win on Sunday, the Rams advanced to 3-0 after beating the Bucs 34-24. Tampa and Los Angeles were the last two undefeated teams that made the playoffs last year, and two of the best in the NFC this year. LA looks poised to advance to the Super Bowl, and today I’ll be breaking down the good, bad, and the meh from Sunday’s win.
Stafford took full advantage of his new surroundings as he led the Rams to another win. He had 4 TDs, 343 yards, and a 134 passer rating. This was the best defense that the Rams have faced so far, and Stafford showed that he’s the real deal. The Rams traded a big haul for him, and so far he’s making it worthwhile for them.
Cooper Kupp & Desean Jackson
Cooper Kupp continued his dominance as Stafford’s favorite target and has nearly doubled his TD count from last year (3) in 3 games. Desean Jackson showed out against one of his former teams and led the Rams in receiving. Stafford even connected with him on a 75-yard touchdown at the start of the 3rd quarter. Jackson still looked like he was speedy, and was unleashed as the Rams’ new deep threat.
The D-Line did a great job with getting to Brady and had 3 sacks, 3 TFLs, and 4 QB hits. There were many times where Brady had to rush to throw, which led to lots of incompletions. Aaron Donald got his first sack on Brady and punched the ball out on a crucial play before the half.
The Rams O-Line has been solid through 3 games and held its own against a tough Tampa front. Stafford was sacked only 1 time, and the Line allowed only 4 QB hits. So far, Brian Allen has had the toughest job going up against the likes of Akiem Hicks, Deforest Buckner, and now Vita Vea. Their hardest games now will come against the 49ers and Ravens, but as of now should be able to handle them.
Bobby Trees just hasn’t been the player Rams fans have come to know over his past 4 years in LA. Van Jefferson has seemingly taken over his role as the #2 WR in this new offense. His performance on Sunday was mediocre (3/33/0), and it seems all the other pass catchers are making better use of their targets than he is. He currently has the second-most targets but is 4th in yards. For comparison, through 3 games last year he had a 13/193/1 stat line and compared to this year 8/91/1, he’s been much less efficient.
The Rams were able to stop the Bucs’ strong passing attack but failed to make some open-field tackles when it mattered. This led to lots of chunk plays given up, and the Rams’ second 100-yard receiver in a row. The run defense this week improved, which was something that they had been struggling with so far. The Bucs RBs haven’t been that impressive, but they held the entire team to 35 total rushing yards. The game script and previous success forced Brady to throw more, but the Bucs never seemed to capitalize on the big plays when they needed it. The defense will have another test against the Cardinals next week, and there’s always room for improvement.
The Rams RBs had a tough task against one of the NFL’s best front 7s this week and performed relatively well. Michel was mediocre with 67 yards and 3.4 YPC and got almost all of the work at RB. It’ll be interesting to see if the new practice squad pickups (Buddy Howell, Javian Hawkins) will be worked into the run game. McVay seems to be going with a workhorse strategy at RB this year, opposed to the committee last year.
Higbee had a solid game against the Bucs, but still hasn’t reached his full potential with Stafford yet, as we saw in 2019. His numbers so far this year haven’t been as flashy, but he’s contributed as a safety blanket for Stafford (11/12 receptions) and gained the yards when the team needs him.
Overall, this was a great team win with lots of players contributing. Kenny Young was a player that performed well, and redeemed himself after being ejected last week. Some of the matchups to look forward to next week will be Ramsey vs Hopkins, Cardinals’ D-Line vs Rams’ O-Line, and Aaron Donald vs their O-Line.