The Los Angeles Rams play host to a red-hot 8-2 New Orleans Saints on Sunday, at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum. The Rams look to avenge a devastating 49-21 lost to the Saints at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome almost one calendar year to date.
A game where the Rams rookie quarterback Jared Goff, throws not only his first NFL career touchdown but also threw two additional touchdown passes in the game. His first touchdown pass was a 24-yard toss to Tavon Austin, who beat B.W. Webb in a man-to-man coverage with the grab. (Watch Video)
Jared Goff First Career Touchdown
In Jared Goff’s first NFL road start, we can admit he actually started showing signs of an overall first round pick. Goff went 20-32 214 yards, three touchdowns, and one interception in the loud and wild and crazy dome. Goff was able to find ex-teammates Kenny Britt and Lance Kendrick's on short touchdown passes in the game. However, Drew Brees played far better as he threw for 310 yards and four touchdowns.
The Rams will never forget the fact that the Saints ran the score up when Sean Peyton signaled in for a trick play. The play was wide receiver Willie Snead would step back and receive a lateral from Brees and then threw the ball some 50 yards down the field to a wide-open Tim Hightower. The team was already up by three touchdowns and built an insurmountable lead late in the fourth quarterback. (Watch Video)
Saints Dial Up Trick Play While Up By 21 Points
Avenging the loss comes with an unfortunate injury, as the Rams leading receiver Robert Woods, will be inactive for today's game, where he appeared to have injured his shoulder last week against the Minnesota Vikings.
Head Coach Sean McVay made it clear in his weekly press conference that it would be by a committee on which receives will replace Woods while he’s not out on injury. Tavon Austin, Pharoh Cooper, and rookies Cooper Kupp and Josh Reynolds, will become the committee that will look to contribute in the absence of Woods.
What seems to be like the title of a movie "The Good, Bad, & Ugly," the Rams tend to have that established in their receivers core. The three obvious to be expected to step up in Woods unavailability, is Watkins, Austin, and Kupp.
Sammy "The Good" Watkins
The Rams acquired Watkins late in the preseason to provide the Rams passing attack a legitimate deep threat. However, in the beginning, Goff and Watkins couldn’t connect with great chemistry until the Thursday night “Color Rush” game against the division rivaled San Francisco 49ers.
Watkins would have a broken game with six receptions for 106 yards receiving, and also scoring two touchdowns. He’ll make one of the most spectacular over the shoulder catch down the sideline for a 47-yard completion that sent Rams sideline in disbelief.
However, teams have been finding ways to shut Watkins down, by harassing him at the line of scrimmage or double teaming causing young Goff to look away from. Watkins seemed to have been uncomfortable with the number of targets that were not aimed at him and lashed out through social media.
Against the New York Giants, Goff found Watkins deep against a secondary who seemed to be peeking in the backfield for a magnificent 67-yard bomb in the middle of the field. It had been a long time coming as the two could never connect on the long passes and games displayed Watkins giving up on his routes or not running hard.
Nevertheless, for the Rams needs Watkins to get open early and often, in today’s game. The Saints will be without their two top defensive back, rookie sensation Marshon Lattimore and Ken Crawley who both have been ruled out for today’s game. Lattimore has an injured ankle and Crawley injury is to the abdomen.
The questions lie with us all, will McVay try and expose the injured Saints secondary bypassing heavy early in the game? If that answer is yes, then “the good” will have a huge game with monster type numbers.
Tavon "The Bad" Austin
Ram fans are still tremendously torn over the contract extension Tavon Austin and Rams front agreed to last season. Many fans were not reluctant with remaining silent of the fact that the Rams were paying him $14 million for one season, and that season statistics were average if not less.
Starting the pre-season on inactive with a hamstring injury, I rather say, I was hoping to see what impact Austin have on this offense. He seemed to be buried on the depth chart until he had been used more of a relief running back. He showed some flashes of ready to break out, but just hadn’t the opportunities to be on the field.
“The Bad” struck Austin more than once this season on with his punt returning miscues. In several games, he would muff punts which potentially became clinchers for their conference rival Seattle Seahawks. Austin last muffed punt against the Seahawks subsequently became the last one he would make, as he was stripped of his return duties by rookie Cooper Kupp. Since that time, Pharoh Cooper has become the return specialist for the Rams.
Perhaps Austin can be the receiver to help spark some life into this Rams offense that is minus, Robert Woods. It was Austin who put the Rams on the board in last season meeting with an early touchdown reception. Austin ended the game with four receptions for 45 yards and a touchdown. If he can use that game as motivation to play well today, he may just be the go-to guy in the the absence of Woods.
Cooper "The Ugly" Kupp
Rookie receiver Cooper “The Ugly” Kupp, was a very promising receiver coming out of the pre-season, as his skill would carry over into the regular season. At one point, he was leading the team in receptions, until he hitting a wall.
Fans have seemed to be discouraged with some of the miscues that Kupp had been challenged within his play. First, there was the pass in the end zone against the Seattle Seahawks, that many felt he should have caught to win the game. Next, have been several passes that should have been caught, were dropped as late as against the Vikings at the US Bank Stadium.
Last was the crucial fumble at the goal line against the Vikings, as Kupp appeared to try and stretch out for the touchdown, the ball was stripped out and recovered by Viking’s safety Anthony Harris. The turnover was devastating because the Rams had responded back to the Vikings touchdown with a threat of their own only to give the ball up in the red zone.
Kupp needs to put that play, and the many drops he had not been able to maintain behind him and look in the future. Today, this could be a game where he can stand up tall and take advantage of Saints secondary. It’s no secret that Kupp has Goff’s attention as he seems to be his favored or go to target. The Rams will need for him to play big today against a team who have won their last eight games.
Rams will probably need to stretch the field with rookie tight end Gerald Everett, as he seems to get open but the pass is either thrown late or out of his reach. Mike Thomas, who has suspended the first four games of the season, for violating the NFL's policy on performance-enhancing substances, will get his opportunity to show what he was showing in the pre-season practices of getting open deep. Coach McVay was high on Thomas until the un-bearing news of the violation, and he has had to earn his way back into the line-up.
Last, Pharoh Cooper, who have given the Rams offense great field position with return ability, will have a moment to pick up from his hard play in pre-season. The second-year receiver has really matured as a player on the field as it has shown through the course of the season.
What seems to be quite odd, but the Rams are lucky to have the depth at the receiver position and talent as they carry seven on the roster. I’m really impressed to watch rookie Josh Reynolds to get some deep passes as he has primarily used as a decoy. Reynolds has a knack of the end zone from deep passes or red zone targets. Expect today to be a shootout, but I believe the Rams defense will dig deep and come after Brees and harass him all game.