After three games, and with a weekend off for correction, the Rams need to sustain their high-powered offense and clean up their defensive and special-teams mistakes. So, things have changed just a bit.
In 2016, the Rams had the NFL’s lowest-scoring offense but were above-average on defense and excellent on special teams. Now, after a Thursday win over San Francisco, the Rams take a rare weekend break, and they likely will end it as the NFL’s highest-scoring offense, at 35.7 points per game.
The defense? Well, eyes need to be averted at times. The 49ers, who failed to score a touchdown in their first two games, scored 39 points on Thursday and forced the Rams to win a 41-39 shootout.
“We gave up a lot of points and we shouldn’t have let them get that close,” defensive lineman Aaron Donald said, “but the best thing about this game is, you go week to week and you fix things. You watch film and try to get a little better.”
The Rams have plenty of work to do on defense between now and the Oct. 1 game against Dallas. The Rams’ defensive front isn’t getting to the quarterback enough, the linebackers are struggling at times with tackling and pass coverage, and the defensive backs are giving up big-chunk pass plays.
That’s a bad combination, and on Friday, Coach Sean McVay didn’t offer many immediate answers but expressed confidence that defensive coordinator Wade Phillips would make fixes.
“There’s always going to be a couple things,” McVay told reporters Friday in his usual day-after-game news conference, “but I also think it’s important to credit some of the offenses they’ve faced. I think we’ll move forward in the right way and continue to improve.”
McVay said similar things about the Rams’ special-teams unit, which fumbled (and lost) a kickoff return and a punt return and jumped offside on a 49ers punt attempt, a penalty that extended a touchdown drive.
It’s been a while, though, since a Rams coach didn’t have to answer questions about an ineffective offense. The Rams have totaled the most points in their first three games since 2000, when the “Greatest Show on Turf” featured Kurt Warner, Marshall Faulk, Isaac Bruce and Torry Holt.
Against the 49ers, the Rams had two 100-yard receivers (Sammy Watkins and Robert Woods) for the first time since 2006, and running back Todd Gurley had 149 all-purpose yards and ended a 20-game drought in which he failed to rush for 100 yards.
The Rams have scored 107 points in…