3 and out: Rams go 2-1 after 80 point shootout against 49ers

The Los Angeles Rams won a thrilling 41-39 showdown at Santa Clara against the San Francisco 49ers. Rams blogger Tom Green gives us his perspective on the highest scoring game of the season…

1 – Gurley continues to thrive in new Rams offence

Todd Gurley had his biggest game on offence since his rookie season as he led the Rams to victory in week 3. The third-year running back out of Georgia finished the game with 149 yards of total offence, two rushing touchdowns and one receiving touchdown.

This is his best performance for the Rams since his huge 163 yard game against the Cleveland Browns in week 7 of 2015 season. It is also his first 100 yard rushing game since his week 14 performance in a 21-14 victory over the Detroit Lions in 2015.

One of the reasons behind this upturn is QB Jared Goff, who has given the offence a serious threat through the air this year. This has historically been one of the biggest weaknesses of the team in recent seasons.

Another reason why Gurley has been thriving this season has been the improvements to the offensive line which has created greater holes for him to exploit and given Goff more time in the pocket to allow plays to develop. All of this has been made possible by head coach Sean McVay who has created a buzz around the team that was not there under former coach Jeff Fisher.

This season Gurley has rushed for 241 yards (which is the fourth best in the NFL so far) and four rushing touchdowns (joint highest). Gurley has also become a serious threat through the air as he is the 48th best receiver in the NFL at the moment with 140 yards worth of receptions and two touchdowns (joint 6th in the NFL so far). If Gurley were to maintain this level of excellence throughout the year, he would finish the regular season with 1285 rushing yards (with 21 touchdowns to his name) and 746 receiving yards (with ten receiving touchdowns).

Todd Gurley Game Stats vs 49ers

Last Thursday’s game was also Gurley’s best performance against the San Francisco 49ers, which is a promising sign of things to come if he can stay healthy throughout the season.

21/9/2017 Average before the TNF Game
Carries 28 20
Rushing Yards 113 75.6
Yards/Carry 4.0 4.1
Rushing Touchdowns 2 0/1
Receptions 5 3/4
Receiving Yards 36 15
Yards/Receptions 7.2 2.86
Receiving Touchdowns 1 0

2 – Defense almost lost it for the Rams

One of the biggest let downs for the Rams this season has unfortunately been its defense and last Thursday’s game was no exception. Despite having a promising start to the game, the defense conceded 421 yards of total offense which is their worst performance since they got blown away by the New Orleans Saints in week 12 of the regular season.

One of the reasons behind this sudden change in fortunes for the defense is the new system 3-4 system implemented by Defensive Coordinator Wade Phillips in the off-season which unfortunately is not working as planned as other teams are exploiting its weaknesses with power running. This is one of the reasons why the Rams statistically are only the 22nd best defense in the league regarding yards and the 6th worst regarding points conceded.

The Rams defense was very effective at dealing with the passing game though. The secondary forced five incompletions and restricted Brian Hoyer to only two touchdowns and 332 yards of offense.

One of the standout players in this secondary was cornerback Nikell Robey-Coleman who made five tackles, forced two incompletions and picked off Hoyer on the opening defensive play of the game. Linebacker Alec Ogletree also had a decent game and was responsible for nine tackles and a quarterback hit.

On passing plays, the Defensive Line put Hoyer under pressure which is one of the reasons why Hoyer was sacked four times during the game (Aaron Donald (DT), Michael Longacre (DE), Morgan Fox (DE) and linebacker Connor Barwin all got a sack each). If the running defence were not so poor, this would have been a good game defensively for the Rams, but unfortunately, it was.

The Rams were unable to deal with the running game which is why the 49ers were still in the game until right at the end. The Rams only conceded 113 rushing yards throughout the game, but these yards resulted in three touchdowns (two for running back Carlos Hyde and one for Hoyer) and happened on crucial defensive drives when the Rams needed a stop the most.

Hopefully, Wade Phillips will be able to tinker with his defense before the team head out to take on the highly talented Dallas Cowboys at AT@T Stadium next Sunday.

Rams Defense (2017) vs Rams Defense (2016)

The Rams defense this year appears to be more capable of dealing with the passing game but has struggled against the Run. This is the opposite of what happened in the opening games of last year.

2017 Rams Defense Stats 2016 Rams Defense
1031 Total Yards conceded in first 3 games 1098
417 Rushing yards conceded in first 3 games 300
614 Receiving Yards conceded in first 3 games 798
75 Points conceded in first 3 games 69
39 Total Yards @ 49ers 28

3 – Jared Goff continues to excel

Jared Goff had another highly productive game, throwing for 292 passing yards and three touchdowns. He is now on five touchdowns for the season and has thrown for 817 yards in his opening three games of the season. To put this into perspective, Goff threw for 1081 yards and only scored five touchdown passes all season in 2016 and if his offensive front can stay healthy, he should continue to grow as a quarterback throughout the season.

In last Thursday’s game, his main targets were wide receivers Sammy Watkins (who scored two touchdowns and finished the game with 106 receiving yards) and Robert Woods (108 receiving yards). He also had the option of passing it off to Gurley when pressure came up the middle which helped prolong Rams offensive drives.

Rams QB starters in opening three games 

Season Games as Starter Games Played Passing Yards Interceptions Touchdowns
Jared Goff 2017 3 3 817 1 5
Case Keenum 2016 3 3 522 3 2
Nick Foles 2015 3 3 644 1 2
Austin Davis 2014 2 3 754 0 3
Sam Bradford 2013 3 3 891 2 6
Sam Bradford 2012 3 3 660 3 4
Sam Bradford 2011 3 3 685 1 2
Sam Bradford 2010 3 3 655 5 4

A Game Ball for…

Todd Gurley, who is finally looking like his old self.

Tom Green

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Tom Green
A British American Footballer with a keen interest in America's game and the NFL.
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