Just one game into the Los Angeles Rams’ rebirth, it would be wise not to make grand assessments or jump to dramatic conclusions. But it’s not an overstatement to call Week 1 of the Rams’ reincarnation an abject disaster. The 28-0 final score barely tells the story.
The Rams were embarrassed on the field in Santa Clara Monday night. All the hope and excitement of the NFL and its restored LA fanbase couldn’t make the team look competent. For the season opener at least, their primetime debut was reduced to lipstick on a pig.
The Rams managed just 10 first downs, same as the number of punts, with a mere 185 yards of total offense. Starting quarterback Case Keenum tossed a pair of interceptions; while the reigning Offensive Rookie of the Year, running back Todd Gurley, generated fewer than 50 yards rushing. The play-calling was plain vanilla, and the execution was worse. Keenum and his receivers were often out of sync with throws nowhere near their intended targets. Rams punter Johnny Hekker got more action than anyone else.
Watching it unfold from the sidelines, this year’s number one overall draft pick wasn’t even in uniform. Quarterback Jared Goff was buried on the depth chart, inactive for the season opener, and head coach Jeff Fisher says that won’t change anytime soon. In the preseason, Goff was largely unproductive and overwhelmed. But exactly how far behind IS he that Fisher won’t let him anywhere near live action? How could the offense be any worse?
The Rams mortgaged everything but the farm to trade up and select the Cal product. In addition to a slew of draft picks this spring, they forked over their first-round pick in 2017. They weren’t just looking for their next quarterback in Goff; they were reaching for the fresh face of the franchise, their proverbial savior. But all of those ambitions and aspirations rest on the shoulders of a young man who’s nowhere close to ready.
The defense shares plenty of blame for last night’s face-plant. The vaunted front seven allowed the San Francisco 49ers 150 yards and three scores. The Rams couldn’t sack Blaine Gabbert, who repeatedly escaped the pocket and picked up yardage on foot. And late in the game, star defensive lineman Aaron Donald was ejected for making contact with an official when his frustrations boiled over.
Last night represented the culmination of a 21-year odyssey. Fans in LA are thrilled with the NFL’s homecoming after they lost the franchise to St. Louis in 1995. They gobbled up available season tickets within hours, even though the Rams are sharing a temporary home with USC. A gigantic, modern football and entertainment complex in Inglewood will cost an estimated $2.6 billion. The league and Rams ownership are all in!
But LA won’t tolerate a losing team very long. The bright lights of the big city offer a myriad of distractions. LA doesn’t need the Rams, and the NFL certainly isn’t the only game in town. Once the novelty wears off, fans won’t show up for a losing effort. The franchise will receive the benefit of the doubt for now, but that won’t last forever. Patience quickly wears thin in a city with the star power of Los Angeles.
The NFL has so much riding on its move back to Los Angeles and can’t afford a flop. Of course, it’s only one week. And look at the bright side: the Rams literally have no place to go but up.
A well-traveled veteran and pioneer of sports radio and television, Amy Lawrence is the host of CBS Sports Radio’s late-night program ‘After Hours with Amy Lawrence.’ The show can be heard weekdays from 2-6am ET on the nation’s largest 24/7 major-market radio network. Follow her on Twitter @.