Eight games in. And the Los Angeles Rams — holders of the Vince Lombardi Trophy — have already matched their loss total from a year ago.
But this time, 60 yards and 44 seconds separated the visiting Rams from knocking off Tom Brady and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers for an unprecedented fourth straight win over the legendary quarterback, who has never beaten L.A. as a Buccaneer. But, using the moxie and will that has helped define his career, Brady found the end zone in the closing seconds…and ending his skid against the Rams.
In the process, the Bucs’ 16-13 victory on Sunday, November 6 forced head coach Sean McVay to send out a telling message about the state of the 2022 Rams.
“Changes have to be made, adjustments have to be made,” McVay told reporters after the last-second loss (h/t Rams team reporter Stu Jackson). “We can’t continue to go on like this.”
McVay added, “This is not good enough, and I have to do better too.”
Rams Ripped on Twitter
The critics were out in full force on social media following the Rams’ loss.
Among the audience representing the ones criticizing the Rams: Analysts blasting the Rams’ defense.
One in particular was The Athletic’s David Lombardi. The 49ers insider witnessed in the 31-14 Rams loss on October 30 with how the Rams played a certain way on defense…and he saw a repeat of that in the final minute at Raymond James Stadium.
“Two straight weeks that the Rams’ fear of dropping back in the pass game has cost them. End of first half versus 49ers when McVay sat on the ball with plenty of time remaining, and today when he sat on it again when a first down would’ve ended the game,” Lombardi posted.
He also added: “No faith in that O-line.”
But it wasn’t just Lombardi. Another analyst, but this one a three-time Super Bowl winner, became a critic of the Rams’ offensive philosophy: Fox Sports 1’s Shannon Sharpe.
“Rams got ultra conservative their last possession,” Sharpe criticized.
Even former Rams chimed in, as Ex-quarterback Jim Everett got vocal about the loss.
“Can’t keep doing the same things and expect different results,” the QB who took the Rams to the 1990 season NFC title game said, while also adding the hashtag “schemes matter.”
Lastly, the Rams Brothers podcast put out a list of needs they hope to see the Rams look into now that they’ve fallen to 3-5 — from offensive coordinator, to offensive line help, to a pair of edge rushers all the way to getting a “legitimate second cornerback.”
How can the Rams Address any Change?
Unfortunately, as NFL fans including Rams fans know, the franchise can’t make any trades…as the trade deadline already passed on November 1.
If there are changes, it’ll likely need to be done internally within the organization or hope there’s someone worth luring in via free agency.
Already, McVay has tight ends coach and assistant coach Thomas Brown having a hand with the running backs again. But many who follow the Rams will now wonder if there will be some additional reshuffling of the staff as they enter a new week on November 7.
Meanwhile, the Rams may have witnessed Darrell Henderson deliver the longest run from scrimmage this season on his 23-yarder. But once again, the ground attack struggled — this time producing just 2.8 yards per carry. The NFL Network’s Michael F. Florio described the Rams’ backfield as a mess.
With Cam Akers back following a turbulent October with reports of personal issues involving he and the Rams, Akers could be tasked with getting a heavier dose of carries in Week 10 against the Arizona Cardinals. It’s doubtful that even a healthier and cleared to play Kyren Williams will get inserted into the starting lineup right away. As for free agency if the Rams end up going that route, the only intriguing names out there are two 30-year-old backs and former 1,000-yard rushers: David Johnson and Devonta Freeman.
Offensive line continues to be the area the Rams once and for all must find a plan for moving forward. Rob Havenstein and Alaric Jackson appear to have their tackle spots set. Brian Allen reclaimed center once he returned from injury. But now, the guard spots must get addressed.
The Rams already have had to go without David Edwards due to injuries including a concussion. Chandler Brewer struggled in his place. Rakeem Nunez-Roches powered his way to Matthew Stafford from his defensive tackle spot. But the most destructive was Vita Vea, who blew through LG Bobby Evans for two sacks in the Bucs win.
If it’s free agency to address left guard, a name worth monitoring is Xavier Su’a-Filo, who last played for the AFC champion Cincinnati Bengals. While the former 2015 second rounder once surrendered eight sacks in 2017, he’s only allowed two sacks from 2019 to 2021 per Pro Football Focus.
McVay acknowledged changes must be made. Especially with this mark now made in his tenure: