Sunday Night wrap-up: Rams offense catches up

AP

The only time a Sean McVay-coached Rams team scored fewer than three points in a first half was in the Super Bowl loss to the Patriots last year.

So it stands to reason that it’s hard to hold them down all night.

After a sluggish start, the Rams came back to beat the Browns 20-13, with their offense looking more like what we’re accustomed to.

Quarterback Jared Goff threw a pair of touchdown passes to Cooper Kupp in the second half, and looked much sharper after the break than before (at least until a mystery interception late in the fourth).

The Rams had gained just 144 yards in the first half, but finished with 345, doing just enough to keep the Browns at arm’s length.

Goff was 24-of-38 for 269 yards, so it wasn’t a great night, but it was timely.

It was far from perfect, but it was a good adjustment and enough to keep them undefeated (3-0).

Here are five more things we learned during Sunday Night Football:

1. For all the excitement Browns fans enjoyed this offseason, the locals sounded disgruntled with what they saw in a rare SNF appearance.

A fourth-and-9 draw play in the fourth quarter drew their particular ire, an unimaginative choice for the situation.

It’s the kind of play that will demand explanation, and coach Freddie Kitchens better have a good one (Maybe he lost track of downs?). There was also some curious timeout usage on their final possession, the kind of problems a first-time coach needs to solve quickly.

Coupled with a lackluster night from quarterback Baker Mayfield (just 195 yards) and some shabby offensive line play (two sacks late were defining), it was reminiscent of some Browns teams of recent vintage who weren’t regular guests in prime time.

2. The Rams made the Super Bowl without him last season, so it’s tempting to say they didn’t miss Kupp that much.

But the third-year wideout is clearly someone they trust, and that was easy to see Sunday.

Kupp finished with 11 catches for 102 yards and the two scores.

He makes his space by running precise routes, and he doesn’t look like a guy who tore his ACL last November. His recovery adds a layer to an offense that was obviously good already.

3. Browns defensive coordinator Steve Wilks didn’t get much of a chance in Arizona, but he has a chance to make a real impact in his current job.

Playing without a starting secondary, Wilks had the Browns pressuring the Rams throughout the first half, keeping them from getting into any kind of offensive rhythm.

Despite not having cornerbacks Denzel Ward or Greedy Williams or safeties Damarious Randall or Morgan Burnett, Wilks blitzed aggressively to keep the Rams’s passing game off balance, and trusted his players to hold up. The Rams eventually found some creases, but it was still a solid showing for what was left of the Browns defense.

Wilks’ one year as head coach in Arizona was a disaster by any measure, but not having a General Manager (Steve Keim was serving his DUI suspension) with a rookie head coach and a rookie quarterback in training camp didn’t give him much of a chance to succeed. But he was well-regarded in previous stops, and has a chance to rebuild his reputation with a team that’s actually more stable than the one he left (and that’s saying something).

4. Even if it wasn’t to the ridiculous scale of the opener, the Browns still struggle with self-inflicted problems.

An illegal shift penalty on Odell Beckham Jr. negated a Nick Chubb touchdown in the third quarter. They recovered to score later in the possession, but it was the latest example of making things harder than they need to be.

The Browns committed 18 penalties in the opener against the Titans, and cut that to nine last week. That’s still a league-high total, even if the arrow was pointed in the right direction.

Sunday, they committed eight for 60 yards, so progress is being made, but it’s still an issue.

5. The Rams are clearly trying to pace themselves, and Todd Gurley.

Their star running back has been held back a bit early in games, allowing him a chance to have an impact later (in the season, they hope).

Gurley had 11 carries for 34 yards through the first three quarters, as the Browns concentrated on pinching in the outside run game.

He finished with 14 carries for 43 yards, as they didn’t need him as they did to close out the Panthers in the opener.

44 responses to “Sunday Night wrap-up: Rams offense catches up

  1. Goff is just not playing well. Neither is Gurley. And each of the Rams’ 4 WRs dropped a pass in this game. A big culprit is their offensive line, but the skill-position players aren’t playing well so far this year, and they’re lucky to sneak out of Cleveland with a win.

  2. Danny dangerous loses another one at home. Yes we’re throwing u in the trash Baker so deal with it punk

  3. Rams defense is really the story today.

    They lost Suh, but their run D is better without him. They lost Joyner, but their pass D is better without him. And their pass rush looks improved over last year too.

  4. The Rams played better than the 49ers did against the Steelers. The division should be the Rams to lose.

  5. Their lucky baker played worse than Goff did. Baker has looked like crap the first 3 games. Yeah I get it the line sucks but so does the majority of lines in the league. You can’t talk crap and not back it up and baker and the browns are not backing up their talk.

  6. This was the first time in 11 years the Browns appeared on Sunday Night Football. Needless to say, I think it’s time to continue to keep them off primetime Sunday nights. The first half of this game was a snoozefest. The penalties ruined the suspense in the second half as well.

  7. I want the Browns fans to have a good team. They so deserve it after decades of suffering. But this team…. Its behaviour and attitude is so very unlikeable. Trash talking and bragging before you win anything at all will make people feel that way.

  8. Honestly, Baker doesn’t trust his o-line. He is skittish because his line can’t block for more than 2 seconds. Dorsey needs to address this quickly or Baker is going to regress. Calling vertical go routes on our 5 yard line with a horrible online against Donald and Matthews was a horrible cal…..

  9. Look, the Browns just took a team that was in the Super Bowl last year to the last minute of the game. A big improvement from years past. That said, Freddie cost us the game with his in-game decisions. Throw the red flag on that obvious PI. Don’t go for it on a 4th and 9. I went to the bathroom because I 100% thought it was a punt. My son yells “they are going for it”. What? Bad decision. Freddie, you have to bring back the creativity on offense. Get the ball to the playmakers. Mix it up. Do it now or we will not make the playoffs.

  10. OBJ and Landry are way too easy to shut down. I really think they are overrated. If they are so talented, they should be taking over games. But they don’t.

    The Browns offensive line is terrible. Bottom 5 in the league.

    Mayfield is not accurate when he rolls out.

  11. That segment in the pregame show where they showed the Browns fan with the “Super Bowl LIV Champions” tattoo was hilarious. Al and Chris immediately joked about the future need to alter the tattoo.

  12. I know the Rams are 3-0 but their offense just looks sluggish to me. I think it’s mostly the offensive line and the timing with the receivers being off but the razzmatazz of last year is long gone. Still a great team. Probably still a contender for the Superbowl but their not scaring anyone this year

  13. Well another slate of games and another bunch of blown calls. How come the NFL officials cannot get it right? If there is a fumble and a run back or an interception that might not be an interception why cant the officials let the play finish rather than blowing it dead? And first you call too many holding penalties on the O lineman ( and some on the D lineman) but why is there so many phantom defensive holding penalties when guys on both teams seem to just run by each other barely touching? OMG – get things figured out before the games are really impacted.

  14. “An illegal shift penalty on Odell Beckham Jr. negated a Nick Chubb touchdown in the third quarter.”
    ___________________________________________________________________________________________

    I’m sure he will say “Everyone does it. I am being singled out. It is because who I am” 😦

  15. Baker in the Stadium (response from crowd):

    “Is it working???”

    “No!”

    “How bout now??”

    “NOOOO!!!”

    “How Bout NOWWWWW”

    “NOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!!”

    “Forget it!!! (mumbles)I don’t know who came up with this”

    -Talking about their “High Powered, Star Studded” Offense

  16. Baker would bail out of the pocket too early and actually run into the outside rushers. He needs to have the guts to step up in the pocket and get the ball out. He did it only once for a nice completion. The Rams D is legit though. They should have called a QB draw at least once from the 5 yard line at the end of the game. The coach is going to lose the team pretty soon if he keeps making bad decisions and has goofy post game pressers like that.

  17. lenke08 says:
    September 22, 2019 at 11:52 pm
    Honestly, Baker doesn’t trust his o-line. He is skittish because his line can’t block for more than 2 seconds.
    _______

    I totally get where you are coming from, but Donald makes many QBs skittish and is impossible for the oline to block… that guy is top 3 players in the league pretty easily right now.

  18. Tuned in right before the 4th and 9 draw play. Got a real quick chuckle, and decided to watch something else. Really, a draw play on 4th and 9 when you are trying to score to win a game? How much do coaches get paid again?

  19. I hate to say it but Kitchens looks overwhelmed.

    Last week, keeping Baker in for a sack with under 2 minutes to go was questionable.

    This week, he probably lost us the game. From the press conference it’s clear that he didn’t understand the significance of challenging the PI in the moment. If he throws that flag we’ve got 2nd and 9, not 3rd and 9. He missed that, cost us a down. Then he doubled down on a bad decision by deciding to go for 4th and 9. Then he tripled down on a bad decision by calling a draw on 4th and 9 (huh?).

    You’ve got Nick Chubb and we don’t run the ball a single time from the 4 yard line, 1st and goal with 43 seconds left?

    Abysmal. 3 turnovers to none. We should have won that game.

  20. Baker should have spent less time this summer acting like a junior high school girl, dissing Daniel Jones to GQ Magazine, and more time studying his craft. Way too early to make any final judgements about Jones (or Mayfield) but at least yesterday, it was pretty obvious who the better quarterback was.

  21. With the Bengals acting like the Bengals and Steelers acting like the Browns, there is still a little time for this Browns team to get it together. But their schedule isn’t doing them any favors. Their next 5-6 games include the Ravens, Patriots, Seahawks, and Bills. The question has always been- How will this team handle adversity? We’re about to find out.

  22. Not a fan of either team, and the Rams will get killed by a really good team if they keep playing like this. Cleveland had a ton of injuries or they win this game. Nuff said…a snoozer.

  23. Yes, Baker frequently looks lost this season. The offensive line is a disaster, and the front office did nothing to address it in any serious way in the offseason or the draft. Kitchens looks overwhelmed and may seriously need to consider giving up playcalling duties so he can better focus on game management issues. The continued penalties indicate a lack of discipline, and that’s on the coaches as well.

    All that said, this is a team that despite having its entire starting secondary out gave the defending NFC champs a legitimate fight. There is undoubtedly talent on the roster, and the defense at least looks to be improving by the week. This isn’t (and never was) a Super Bowl contender, but they also don’t deserve to be written off just yet, either. Manage to avoid going 0 for the next 4 games and suddenly the schedule provides opportunity to make some moves. The division is down overall. The chance to be a factor late in the season is still there.

  24. Baker will be fine. Every young QB struggled at some point. That offensive line is almost as bad as the one here in Cincinnati though. Need to fix that and the play calling was awful. Kitchens may be in over his head. Wouldn’t be the first time a great assistant coach couldn’t handle being the man.

  25. This is just Karma for good ole boy Baker … maybe shouldn’t of come out in the first preseason game going no huddle against a bunch of back ups ? Scoring a touchdown and acting like it was a super bowl winning drive ? I use to pull for the Browns but never really watched a game but now I find myself watching them all just to cheer them on to lose.

  26. All that said, this is a team that despite having its entire starting secondary out gave the defending NFC champs a legitimate fight. There is undoubtedly talent on the roster, and the defense at least looks to be improving by the week. This isn’t (and never was) a Super Bowl contender, but they also don’t deserve to be written off just yet, either. Manage to avoid going 0 for the next 4 games and suddenly the schedule provides opportunity to make some moves. The division is down overall. The chance to be a factor late in the season is still there.

    0 0 Rate This
    Here come the excuses for having high expectations for a team and QB who just aren’t what they were hyped up to be.

  27. It wasn’t Goff’s best performance, but he went on the road and threw for 269 yards and 2 TDs. He was poised in the pocket, moved around to extend plays, and he threw about, oh, I don’t know, 20 excellent passes. Announcers were so over the top in love with Mayfield, I think most of you missed it.

  28. “I hate to say it but Kitchens looks overwhelmed.”
    ____________

    I’m amazed anybody expected him to NOT look overwhelmed. There is nothing about his look/speech/demeanor that makes you think “head coach overseeing all the crucial details needed to win games.” If he offered to drive your kids to school you’d take one look at him and politely decline.

  29. Who will be right first: those predicting the end of the world will occur on [insert future date here] or people predicting the Browns will be good?

  30. Baker and the boys have been talking all off season. Now it’s time to play and they can’t back up their words. After the Ravens bury them next week they will be done for the season

  31. trubroncfan07 says:
    September 23, 2019 at 11:44 am
    Keep Baker contained to the pocket and put pressure on him up the middle and he is cooked. People know the game plan to stop him now. That is why he is struggling.

    ———–

    You can say the same about Brady or Manning and many others.

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