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Super Bowl LIII; Why the Rams are going home losers

The Los Angeles Rams had a fantastic season but it ended on Sunday night with a 13-3 loss to the New England Patriots in Super Bowl LIII.  The Rams looked disheveled and their dynamic offense never got off the ground.  Jared Goff looked scared to play, Todd Gurley was a non-factor, and although their defense played well, they couldn’t stop Sony Michel with time winding down.

The Rams have a very young team but they may not have as many shots at the Lombardi Trophy as one may think.  For starters, they’ll be without Ndamukong Suh, Marcus Peters, Aqib Talib, and a few others next season.  Those are three important starters on the defense.  In addition, what if Todd Gurley gets hurt?  What if Jared Goff regresses after a bad Super Bowl performance?  There’s always a chance that things could go wrong next season, and there’s no guarantee they’ll ever get back.

The Rams lost for a myriad of reasons but the three main ones are as follows;  Jared Goff looked like a rookie out there, the Rams got away from their bread and butter, and Sean McVay short-circuited.  The second and third go hand in hand, but it’s absolutely true.

Jared Goff was not prepared for the big stage

Jared Goff not being ready for the Super Bowl isn’t necessarily his fault.  He was 19/38 for 229 yards and one interception, but the interception essentially took away any chances of the Rams being able to tie the game up.  Goff was for the most part a game manager during the Rams’ playoff run.  He never had to do too much and win the game by himself.

As mentioned in my previous article on why the Patriots would win the game, there was a snippet in there about how Goff has never really carried an important game on his shoulders yet.  He clearly failed to do that in the Super Bowl BUT that’s also a discredit to the coaches.  Sean McVay’s playcalling was suspect at best and he didn’t put his young quarterback in the best spots to succeed.  Without McVay’s innovative office or a stout running game, Goff was left hung out to dry.  He should have made some plays and whiffed on a lot of throws, but it’s a collective effort and the Rams failed him also.

Where was the running game?

Part of Bill Bellichick’s genius is that he literally takes away anything that you do well.  The Rams ran the ball VERY well in the playoffs.  CJ Anderson was the reason why they were in the Super Bowl.  Todd Gurley played well against Dallas but hasn’t looked the same since the regular season.

However, Gurley ran ten times for 35 yards and Anderson ran seven times for 22 yards.  They had 17 carries total and didn’t even sniff a long run.  What doesn’t make any sense is that Sean McVay essentially gave up on the running game early in the second half and tried to let Jared Goff air it out.

The issue with McVay is that his gameplan didn’t work and he didn’t try to make any adjustments or try to innovate.  As mentioned a few times, it’s like he forgot how to coach.  Clearly when an opposing coach’s motive is to take away what you do best, you need to tweak that thing you do best to make it work.  McVay instead chose to ignore his running game, especially CJ Anderson, and instead relied on a third year quarterback.  Had McVay kept a healthy diet of Anderson and mixed in a clearly injured Gurley, it may have opened up the passing game.

Sean McVay wasn’t a genius on Sunday night

All three of these reasons go hand in hand, but Sean McVay had a rough night against Brian Flores and the Patriots defense.  Nothing he did made any sense.  He ran when he should have passed, tried to keep feeding Todd Gurley when CJ Anderson was clearly at the time a better running back and healthier, and didn’t call his timeouts in the first half when there was a chance the Rams could salvage some points.

McVay is absolutely a genius boyhood wonder, but some of the mistakes he and his coaching staff made at the Super Bowl showed they weren’t ready for the wily veterans on the Patriots staff.  When they tried to zig, Bill Bellichick and staff zagged.  It was a game of cat and mouse but it’s absolutely unacceptable for a team that talented to have three points against a decent but not elite defense.  It was the lowest scoring game in Super Bowl history and a shame that McVay wasn’t able to capitalize on anything the Patriots gave the Rams.

 

Look, it’s not easy to beat the Patriots in the Super Bowl.  The Falcons were spotted a 28-3 lead and couldn’t get the job done.  They’ve won six of nine Super Bowls with Tom Brady and Bill Bellichick.  However, the Rams didn’t do much to challenge the Pats.  They didn’t push them to the brink even though it was a tied game for most of the contest.  They didn’t have many scoring chances.  Their defense looked great, but a defense can only hold up for so long.

The Rams may be back next season.  They could come back with a healthy Todd Gurley, a revamped defense and even more weapons.  Jared Goff had a fantastic experience even though he didn’t play well.  He got all the way to the Super Bowl whether or not he was the main contributor.  It’s a good learning experience for the team but not what the Rams were looking for in their first Super Bowl appearance in nearly two decades.

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