When the Rams signed wide receiver Deason Jackson as a free agent last winter, the rest of the NFL faced a worrying question.
How good would the Rams’ passing game be with a flamboyant veteran capable of catching a long pass from Matthew Stafford?
The question is even more dire for the league after the Rams’ 34-14 win over the Chicago Bears on Sunday night.
If Jackson is one of several deep goals for Stafford’s throw, how much better is the Rams’ passing game?
Jackson had a diving catch for 18 yards during the first quarter drive, which resulted in a field goal, which was more than his two gains in the season opener at Sophie Stadium. Meanwhile, wide receivers Van Jefferson, Cooper Kupp and Robert Woods and tight end Tyler Higby all had plays of 19 yards or more in the game. Stafford’s touchdown is 67 and 56 yards to Jefferson and Kupp, and a 37-yard run to Higby converted another touchdown drive.
If the Rams lacked a deep threat last year, perhaps the problem wasn’t Kupp, Woods and Jefferson, but the quarterback and playbook they needed to stand a chance.
“It starts with giving the players a chance,” Rams coach Sean McVay said on Monday after his fifth straight win in the first game of the season. “If I look at myself critically, I haven’t always done this.
“But Cooper, Vans, Robert, these are the guys who aren’t limited. Higby makes a big game down the field tomorrow. We all know what Deason did throughout his career.”
So maybe it’s not about Jackson raising the secondary and opening up shorter avenues for Kupp, Woods, and Jefferson. It’s all about them doing this for each other. Or so McVay would like to think to the rescue.
“We have a handful of guys who we think can activate all parts of the field in a pass game, whether it’s making after catching under stuff, making plays in an intermediate game (or) trying to stretch. Be able to cover the top shelf,” McVay said.
“The fact that we can do this to any of our skill players makes it more difficult for us to defend. I thought it was important for our (Sunday) night and something that we need to continue to progress as the season progresses. ”
The Rams’ long touchdowns for Kupp on the fourth snap of Jefferson and the second half in the third game of the game were the result of multiple contributions.
Stafford, obviously. In his first game since arriving in a trade sending draft picks to quarterback Jared Goff and the Detroit Lions, Stafford took at least two firsts. According to the Elias Sports Bureau, he was the first quarterback to win 300 yards, three touchdowns, and his first quarterback with a team without a hitch. And he was the first man to pass two touchdown passes for more than 50 yards in his debut with a team since Lee Grossup in 1962 with the New York Titans (AFL).
Of course, the offensive line. Stafford was sacked only once, and the line gave him and the recipients time to develop those long plays. 2019 Center Brian Allen receives the game ball after returning from a knee injury.
Lastly, or first of all, the teamwork of the receivers. Watch Kupp’s touchdown catch, and you see Woods run an intermediate route that distracts Bear safety Tashun Gipson from Kupp.
“The importance of Rob on the outside is being able to push vertically, put that safety out there so he doesn’t squeeze, actually (why) I was 30 yards open,” said Kupp, who went on to hit 15 yards. was kind of open.
Now, how much better can it be if Jackson is catching balls too deep?
“DeSean is going to get him, I know it’s coming for him,” Kupp said. “Luckily for Vans and I, we were the recipients this week. But I think every week it would be who calls their number for those shots, and then makes the most of them when they come.” ”
The Rams reported only one injury in the first game. McVay said that nose tackle Sebastian Joseph-Day “raised his knee a bit.” The coach said Joseph-Day could miss practice this week but should be able to play against the Indianapolis Colts (0-1) at Lucas Oil Stadium on Sunday.
• Running back Soni Mitchell was only on the field for three plays and one carry. McVay said this is because the Rams weren’t running many plays early, and Darrell Henderson was running back, playing late. Henderson ran 16 times for 70 yards and a touchdown.
• The defense passed 41-year-old David Montgomery on his first carry to give the Bears 108 yards. McVay said the emphasis will be on run defense in the exercise this week. Asked if he would consider starting in the preseason, McVay said: “Let me think about it. Not at all.”
• Outside linebacker Justin Hollins’ second sack came on Sunday after Bears lost quarterback Andy Dalton to a Rams defensive tackle. Hollins said: “It’s unheard of for him (Donald) to miss. He’s likely to go out for 20 (sacks) any season, so whatever he can give to his teammates is a blessing .
• The NFC West team leads 4-0.