The Rams fell to the Green Bay Packers in a 32-18 loss at Lambeau Field.
While the offense looked great, capitalizing on the success from the Wild Card Round, the defense, which has been a bright spot all season, gave a subpar performance.
That’s what happens when the best defense in the league goes up against the best offense in the league – one has to give, and sadly it was the Rams.
However, it’s the end of the season. It’s not time to reflect on the negatives. Let’s focus on the positives.
The Rams improved from last season in more ways than one.
Here are some of the positive takeaways from the Rams’ 2020 season.
Huge Improvements on Defense
The defense was cooking this season. The Rams had one of, if not the defense in the league. They lead the NFL in every major yardage category except rushing yards allowed per game. The Rams’ defense also had 22 takeaways all season, not including the two postseason take-aways.
This defense is legit, and there are plenty of reasons why. Jalen Ramsey didn’t look like much last season with the Rams but now that he’s played the full season, he’s looked like that massive $100 million contract since day one. Aaron Donald continues his dominance with 13 regular-season sacks, good enough for second in the league behind T.J. Watt. Brandon Staley brought much-needed life to the defense helped by bringing over Leonard Floyd from Chicago with Staley. John Johnson was a Pro Bowl snub this, and even role players stepped up in big ways.
The defense looked great all season and should be reward with some contract extensions this offseason. Seven players, who are major contributors on defense, are up for contract extensions in the offseason and deserve to be paid.
Multiple Rookie Standouts
Regardless if it was all-season or just one game, the Rams’ rookie class stood out this season. Obviously, Cam Akers has come into his own as a running back. Toward the end of the season, he’s started becoming the primary back and dominating the snap count. He’ll be putting in more work next season as the Rams look to improve the run game.
While not playing in every game, Jordan Fuller has stepped up in Taylor Rapp and fellow rookie Terrell Burgess’s absence. Then Van Jefferson, who has shown flashes here and there he went off in Cooper Kupp’s absence against Green Bay. Jefferson hauled in six of his seven targets for 46 yards and a touchdown.
He even assisted on Akers’s two-point conversion attempt. Jefferson might not have had a productive first season but has stepped up when called – he caught 61% of his targets, good for 220 yards.
Jared Goff’s Postseason Performance
Jared Goff never ceases to amaze me. After up and down performances all season, he managed to look close to perfect in two playoff games despite having screws in his thumb. You can’t knock his competitive spirit.
Through the playoffs, Goff completed 65% of his passes for 329 yards and two touchdowns. He also managed to turn the ball over zero times.
However, the offensive line fell apart against the Packers and allowed four sacks, the most allowed all season.
“He’s our quarterback right now,” Sean McVay said of Goff after the playoff loss. The comment leads McVay to be pressed about it the following day, explaining, “Everything’s being evaluated. I’m not ready to make any sort of statements with regards to anybody – starting position or not.”
It’s not hard to see that Goff plays better when he has competition behind him. Whether he’d like to admit it or not, knowing John Wolfard could easily come for his starting job once he returns from injury puts a fire in his stomach to play better and prove he’s the starter.
Whether the Rams continue with Wolfard as the backup or bring in a competent veteran, sorry Blake Bortles, to put pressure on Goff is yet to be seen.
McVay noted how well Goff played in the divisional loss.
“You really saw a guy that stepped in. He did what he could; I thought he made some plays, though he saw the field well. He did a good job today.”
Featured Image: Keith Birmingham/AP