Remember way back in December of 2016, not even a year ago, when the Rams were the most embarrassing team in football? Remember when star running back Todd Gurley was putting together a sophomore slump for the ages and saying things like, “we looked like a middle school offense out there.” Remember when Jeff “7-9" Fisher was presiding over yet another season in which the toothless Rams struggled not only to win games, but produce watchable football? After last night’s genuinely fun 41-39 win over the 49ers, that all seems like it happened ages ago.
Three weeks into the season, the Rams have scored 107 points, and have done it while looking like they have a competent offense on their hands for once. Last year’s team scored just 224 points all season.
Yes, some caveats: So far the rams have put up 46, 20, and 41 points against the Colts, Skins, and 49ers, respectively. That’s not anyone’s idea of a murderer’s row, and it’s entirely possible that things will only get much worse from here. The wins over the Colts and 49ers could very well go down as season highlights for another not-very-good Rams team. But even if that’s the case, the Rams at least look like an actual football team now.
There’s no great secret behind the creation of this suddenly functional offense, the Rams simply got better personnel in the areas where it was most needed. New 31-year-old head coach Sean McVay may or may not be the next great coaching prodigy, but he’s definitely not Jeff Fisher, and that’s the most important thing. Meanwhile, the Rams went out and got some decent receivers for Jared Goff to throw to in Robert Woods and Sammy Watkins, and last night showed how much easier it is to move the ball when you have two receivers capable of running fast and catching the ball.
Woods and Watkins combined for 12 receptions, 214 yards, and two touchdowns last night. Both had receptions that went for 30+ yards.
The ability to get the ball downfield for once has also finally provided some space for Todd Gurley, who spent last season impotently bashing himself into eight- and nine-man fronts and getting nowhere. His 40 yards on 19 carries in Week 1 seemed to signal that he was in for more of the same this season, but he bounced back with 88 yards on 16 carries in Week 2 and went for a respectable 113 yards on 28 carries last night.
The Rams’ most important offseason signing may prove to be left tackle Andrew Whitworth. Los Angeles pried him away from Cincinnati with a three-year, $36 million deal—how are things going for Andy Dalton these days, anyway?—and he’s immediately provided an invaluable resource for second-year quarterback Jared Goff: time.
Goff looked overwhelmed and overmatched when he was on the field last season, but he looked like an All-Pro while rending the 49ers apart on Thursday night. That’s because he had time to do so; Goff wasn’t sacked a single time, and San Francisco barely even got a hand on him. With all that time to survey the field, Goff was able to pick out Woods and Watkins on deep routes and throw the ball with confidence. He completed 22 of 28 passes for 292 yards and three touchdowns.
It will be a while before we know how good this Rams team actually is—upcoming games against the Cowboys and Seahawks should provide some clarity—but what we do know is that it is good enough to beat the shit out of the Colts and 49ers, and look pretty good while doing it. Given how grim their last campaign was, that might be enough to go ahead and already chalk this season up as a win.