Offenses struggle but Sean McVay's squad does enough to secure the win

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Offenses struggle but Sean McVay's squad does enough to secure the win

Post by admin » Mon Nov 18, 2019 7:41 am

For all the people who were complaining about the epic shootout between the Rams and Chiefs in Week 11 of last season, I hope you're happy. Because the Sunday Night Football "battle" between the Rams and Bears was essentially the polar opposite of that.

Where last year Jared Goff and Patrick Mahomes put on a show by torching the opposing secondaries on pretty much every snap, on Sunday Goff and Mitchell Trubisky underwhelmed, missing open receivers, scurrying away from pressure, and forcing throws into coverage. Where creativity and adventurousness ruled the day in a 54-51 duel last year, this game was marked by conservative coaching, from the play calls to fourth-down decision-making and more. Where last season's game featured two teams that looked like Super Bowl contenders, this one featured two teams that looked a whole lot like also-rans.

The Rams ultimately prevailed, though I can't say it was due to anything they affirmatively accomplished. The L.A. run game had success early but was totally shut down late. Jared Goff was barely asked to do anything. The Bears could not move the ball all night, but that stemmed far more from their shortcomings than from anything the non-Aaron Donald Rams defenders were taking away from them. (In fact, the Rams gifted Chicago several first downs via penalty.)

It was a thoroughly unexciting game featuring uninspiring performances on both sides. The final score was 17-7.
Why the Rams won

The impotent offense of their opponent, a strong first-half running game, and a few timely throws by Jared Goff, who was otherwise pretty miserable. There are not very many teams the Rams would have beaten playing like they did offensively, but luckily for them, they were playing the Bears. Chicago missed two field goals -- which is pretty normal for the Bears at this point -- but with the exception of a 12-play, 80-yard drive in the third quarter, mostly did not threaten to score otherwise.

Todd Gurley had 90 total yards at the half and found success running in power schemes early on. The Bears adjusted by going to the 6-1 defensive front that has given the Rams so much trouble since late last year, and for much of the second half Jared Goff could not make them pay. But he made three huge throws on LA's last drive, and that was essentially all the Rams needed.
Why the Bears lost

They have a glaring weakness at quarterback, and it undermines anything and everything else they do well.

Mitchell Trubisky has had worse games than this one, where he went just 24 of 43 for 190 yards, one touchdown, and one interception; but he may not have had a game that was more dispiriting. The Rams showed an extreme lack of confidence in their own quarterback for much of the night, playing extremely conservative football with the apparent belief that simply could not beat them. They were right.

His footwork was terrible. His accuracy was scattershot. He did not make any plays with his legs. With the Bears down by 10 late in the game, he was pulled for backup Chase Daniel (the Bears announced that Trubisky had a hip injury). It was too late.
Turning point

It has to be Chicago's first three drives of the game. The Bears actually moved down the field on the opening possession, and eventually got themselves into field goal range. But facing fourth-and-7 from the 30-yard line, Matt Nagy sent his kicker onto the field and Eddie Piniero hooked his kick wide to the left. The Rams thus began their opening drive with good field position ... but Todd Gurley fumbled away the ball on their very first play.

Chicago drove right back to the exact same spot on the field (the 31-yard line) and on fourth-and-9, Nagy decided to go for it. Taylor Gabriel dropped the ball, giving the Rams strong field position once again. Gurley moved the Rams quickly into Chicago territory, but Jared Goff forced a throw into a crowd and Roquan Smith made a great play to pick off the pass.

The Bears marched right back down to the Rams' 29-yard line, and eventually faced fourth-and-6 from the 29-yard line. Nagy sent Piniero back onto the field once again ... and this time Piniero pushed his kick wide to the right. Chicago thus got into scoring range three times in three drives, and came away with zero points. They barely threatened the rest of the way.
Highlight play

Neither passing game had many highlight plays, and for most of the night Jared Goff's top target (Cooper Kupp) was either being used as a lead blocker or else incredibly well-covered. But late in the second quarter the Rams got him free on a fade route from the slot, and Goff hit him streaking down the left sideline.

Kupp actually fumbled the ball just before crossing the plane into the end zone, but luckily for the Rams, the fumble went out of bounds outside the pylon so they kept possession and ultimately scored on the very next play.

That score from Todd Gurley was pretty much all the Rams needed.
What's next

The Rams improve their record to 6-4, allowing them to maintain hold of the No. 7 seed in the NFC. They are a game and a half back of the Vikings for the No. 6 seed, and two games back of the Seahawks, who hold the No. 5 seed. The Rams have a slightly longer break than usual coming up, as their next game is against Lamar Jackson and the Ravens on Monday Night Football. That should be quite the test.

The Bears fall to 4-6 and their playoff hopes are quickly dwindling. Mathematically it's still possible to make it, but in reality it might take them winning out and getting a whole lot of help from other teams. The Bears play against the free-falling New York Giants next Sunday, in a game that will likely mean far more for draft positioning than the postseason.

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