PFT 2019 storyline No. 3: Will the NFC catch up to the Rams?

Getty Images

The Rams rocketed to the top of the NFC in 2018. In 2019, will the rest of the NFC close the gap?

The signs already exist to suggest that coach Sean McVay and company may have a hard time distancing themselves from the rest of the pack, both in their division and in the rest of the conference. If the 2019 version of running back Todd Gurley no longer performs like the 2017 version of running back Todd Gurley, more pressure will be placed on the rest of the offense, starting with quarterback Jared Goff. And there are real questions regarding whether the rest of the offense can pick up the slack.

Some wonder whether, as evidenced by the Patriots holding the Rams to three points in Super Bowl LIII, defenses may be figuring out the McVay offense. Which puts extra pressure on McVay to, as Chris Simms would say, self-scout himself in order to figure out where the flaws in the offense reside — and, at the same time, how to exploit defenses that are shifting their focus to take away things that McVay/Goff/Gurley like to do.

It’s one thing for McVay to come up with new concepts and plays; it’s another for Goff to execute them. Goff’s failure to spot and then to deliver an accurate throw to a wide-ass open Brandin Cooks in Super Bowl LIII should haunt Goff and McVay, and it should raise questions as to whether, when confronted with a championship opportunity, Goff will be suited to seize it.

That may not be an issue in 2019, if the Rams find themselves in a slog against the likes of the Seahawks and maybe the 49ers in the NFC West, and likewise in a fight for home-field advantage with the likes of the Eagles or Cowboys or Bears or Saints or whoever rises up in the other three divisions.

42 responses to “PFT 2019 storyline No. 3: Will the NFC catch up to the Rams?

  1. LOL…the Eagles are 2-0 against the Rams and beat a common opponent in the super bowl. I think the Bears, Eagles and Patriots have laid the blue print to beat the Rams. Goff can’t think through the offense on his own, and after that head set goes off McVay nor Goff can do anything about a DC who can counter their offense. I remember Chip Kelly’s offense was the next big thing until defenses caught up to it…same thing will happen to McVay.

  2. Shouldn’t the question be will the NFC catch up to the Saints since they should have rightfully been in the Super Bowl???

  3. if in the super bowl they called a pass interference on the pats it would have been a different outcome!!! rams the team to beat in the nfc period

  4. I think the Rams will be fine, if they avoid the injury bug. They’ll probably limit Gurley’s workload some, but for the most part they are similar to last years team. Will they be the top seed in the NFC, IDK, but I bet they’ll be in the mix. While the 49er’s and Seattle may have closed the gap in talent a bit, I just don’t see them overtaking the Rams this season. BTW, not a biased Rams fan.

  5. The Rams shouldn’t have even been in the SB last year. It took bad referees to make it happen.

  6. The gap wasn’t that wide last year.

    See: Bears vs. Rams or Saints vs. Rams

    The Rams were not a head above the NFC last year. If there’s a “gap,” it’s a very small one.

  7. No problem in a weak division. Arizona starting over, Seattle has seen its better day and the 49ers don’t what the hell they’re doing.
    And the Saints shall seek their revenge!

  8. Funny thing, the Eaglea own the Rams. So, not really worried about them too much. Doug Pederson is 2-0 against the boy genius,,,both games in LA and would have beat him last year if they got by the Saints in the playoffs. Saints and Eagles are both better than the Rams.

  9. Irrelevant question. The Rams go to a Super Bowl after a blown call, get blown out, and the question is will the rest of the conference catch up to them?


  10. While the rest of the division is improving there’s still a big gap between the Rams and the other teams even if Gurley’s knee becomes problematic. If the knee becomes an issue, the Rams can shift a few gears they haven’t used yet. They can shift the offensive emphasis from the run game to the passing game and go more 4-wide bringing out Josh Reynolds OR… they can unlock the TE’s. The only reason the TE’s haven’t played a bigger role in the offense is they haven’t been needed when you have guys like Gurley, Cooks, Woods, and Kupp to throw to.

    But, if Gurley’s knee becomes a bigger issue than expected, McVay can unlock the TE’s and introduce a new wrinkle into the offense. Both Everette and Higbee have more game than they’ve been allowed to show. The only reason they haven’t been more productive is McVay has chosen to roll with the 3-WR’s and Gurley 90+% of the time But, if need be, he could easily make them a bigger part of the offense. He certainly knows how to incorporate the TE position into an offense with his history in Washington and Jordan Reed and Vernon Davis.

    Then, add in another year of recognition and familiarity in the same offensive system and it’s reasonable to expect another step forward in Goff’s development and he’s a 2x Pro Bowler who’s already taken this same team to a Super Bowl. I think it’s certainly more likely he takes another developmental step forward with more offensive familiarity than of him taking a step back.

    So yeah, the Rams still have a few gears they haven’t been playing with just yet if need be to add to the separation between them and the rest of the division.

  11. Yes, the gap will close. But only because the Rams are going to be worse this year

  12. Offense – Can Cooper Kupp come back strong. Will we use our Tight Ends. Will Notebloom and Allen be ready.
    Defense – Can Brockers move back to the middle, play consistently and let Linebackers have clear lanes to stop the run? Will Dante Fowler play consistent and get to the QB? Will we miss Mark Barron and will the other LB’s step up. Will Marcus Peters play like he did Weeks 11 – Super Bowl. Will Eric Weddle play above average.
    Coaching – Will Sean McVay game plan accordingly or be able to switch up when need be. Last and most important game of the season he did not….

  13. Geez, do you really think any other team could put up more than 3 points in the Superbowl?

    The Rams are truly a juggernaut…

  14. The Rams D is excellent. The main question as to how well they do this year is if Goff progresses or not. He has to learn to read defenses and shifts that occur after the comm to McVay is cut off.

    In the Super Bowl the Pats effectively had 2 DCs on the field in Hightower and Devin McCourty calling shifts and changes after Goff lost comm, sometimes a couple of shifts so even if he had an idea what the first after comm shift was he was lost on the 2nd one.

    That’s tough to counter for a well experienced QB, much less where Goff was at. He has to improve in that respect or the Rams take a step back.

  15. OK, weren’t the Eagles 0-2 against the Saints in 2018? What are Iggle fans so proud of?

    Rams lost games last year, but I think everyone else did too? Rams went 11-3 against the “mighty” NFC last year.

  16. Saints dominated the Rams in the regular season last year. At one point, they were up 35-7. Saints don’t need to catch up with anyone.

  17. Yeah, Saints took this big lead in the regular season, then promptly watched the Rams come back from 21 down. Then they outdid themselves by playing one of their worst games of the season in the NFC Championship.

    Maybe they should be a little bit worried.

  18. In two games against the Saints last year — including an overtime — the Rams led for exactly ONE SECOND, the field goal in overtime that ended the game!!

    And let’s face it, if either of two refs looking right at the play had not ignored three penalties (pass interference, helmet-to-helmet, and unecessary roughness) on a single play, the Rams would have not been in a position to ever lead in that game.

    Hard to see how that fact makes them “the class of the NFC”???

  19. Per ramrene above: “…it’s reasonable to expect another step forward in Goff’s development….” Hate to put a pin in your bubble, but “I don’t think so.” THE weakest link in the Rams chain of armor IS THE QB. There is no coach known to man that can coach the jitters and happy feet OUT of a QB. In a perfect world, Goff is very good. On an NFL grid iron, there is no perfect world.

  20. Pulledgroin says:
    July 24, 2019 at 11:52 am
    In two games against the Saints last year — including an overtime — the Rams led for exactly ONE SECOND, the field goal in overtime that ended the game!!


    So the Rams still won then. Thanks for clarifying that

  21. Heck, I predict the Rams take a big fall this season. Thank Belechick for drawing up the recipe to fluster Goff and throw off their offense. Every DC will follow it to a T this year.

    I predict 8-9 wins.

  22. “In two games against the Saints last year — including an overtime — the Rams led for exactly ONE SECOND, the field goal in overtime that ended the game!!”

    LOL. Saints blew a 13-0 lead with home field advantage. Rams outscored them 26-10 after the 1st quarter. Yes, the Saints were really in control.

    “And let’s face it, if either of two refs looking right at the play had not ignored three penalties (pass interference, helmet-to-helmet, and unecessary roughness) on a single play, the Rams would have not been in a position to ever lead in that game.”

    They also missed that Saints lineman trying to rip Aaron Donald’s facemask off. Darn.

  23. The pats took a page from the bears defense and shut down the Rams. And as far as the Philly special even the bears did it a few weeks before. The Rams will have to make some major changes to there offense.

  24. Really? What you should be talking about is can the Rams keep winning while giving up 24 points per game? Not many teams do.

  25. I’m not confident that the McVay playbook is diverse enough at this point to withstand multiple NFL defenses scrutinizing it for an entire season. We’ll see what happens, but if he does not complicate his plays, I’m not sure that the Rams will get back to the Superbowl.

  26. Philly will only last as long as their f.r.a.g.i.l.e QB.

    Rams lost most of their O-line.

    Brees is another year older.

    I am thinking the NFC is wide open.

  27. You can’t really win without Pete Morelli cheating for you.

    SaintsGotRobbed says:
    July 30, 2019 at 3:29 pm
    Everyone knows the Saints were the class of the NFC last season.

  28. The Rams lost half their O-line & D-line starters & Gurley. They went all in last year & it’s going to cost them with many years of futility

Leave a Reply

You must be logged in to leave a comment. Not a member? Register now!

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.