Looking at the NFC West standings right now is to test the amount of time can be rubbed eyes before there is any reaction.
You look, and nothing seems real. So you rub your eyes or squint a little. Then, once that fails, you take a walk. On this walk you look for a long time a large body of water. But nothing changes you a fact that does not compute.
This fact: The Los Angeles Rams were 3-1 after beating the Arizona Cardinals 17-13 Sunday and lead their division.
The same team that was pummeled 28-0 in Week 1 is at the top of a division the season 2016 NFL rounds the pole quarter.
The same team that has not scored an offensive touchdown until Week 3 loss is among the league squads., Which means that somehow we can put the Rams in the same sentence with the New England Patriots without mocking or choking on something (you don ‘t choke while ago, right?).
Oh, and the same team that calls Case Keenum his starting quarterback would be playoff bound if the season ended today.
But of course, the season does not end today, for a four NFL game this year would not make much sense. Stay with this thought, because early October is often a time for absurd soccer oddness.
Right around when the stores start selling your Halloween bags jumbo size tooth decay favorite candy is also the time contenders rise around the NFL. In the near future we will look back on the Rams, considered as most ridiculously obvious contender in recent memory.
Why? Well, let’s start by the absence of the execution block. As Bleacher Report Jason Cole rightly observed, even in victory Sunday, running back Todd Gurley had little to work with.
Gurley is a unique talent, and it is the rare running back worthy of a top-10 draft pick. He quickly proved his worth as a rookie when the 22 years ran for 566 yards longer his first four starts. Even more impressive, he did this just after after completing his recovery from a torn ligament.
Fast forward to the present and we see a team that is to let the skill Gurley become an afterthought.
After four games in 2016, Gurley recorded a meager 216 yards rushing. Yes, he made a contribution as a pass-catcher at Sunday’s victory with his 33-yard reception, which was quickly erased when Keenum fumbled.
But Gurley be chugging if we entertain the slightest faith in this Rams team and its ability to turn an early season mirage in desert drinking water. It must be the engine of an offensive unit that scored all nine points in the first two weeks. During this same period, Gurley traveled an average of 0.89 yards before facing the first contact, according to Rich Hammond of the Orange County Register.
“Yeah, it’s crazy,” said Gurley Hammond at the time. “I’m like, ‘Man, there are 12 people on the ground.”
He is averaging 2.3 yards per carry since he made those comments, and overall, four games in 2016, the average delay is sitting at an even level of 2.6 yards sewer. Curiously, it seems that even the incredibly talented runners will struggle when they are constantly abut behind the online fray.
We could throw the blocking implementation problems aside if the Rams had a reliable passing attack to compensate for the spray Gurley. But despite a handful of long completions Sunday, including a 65-yard catcher Brian Quick has been endowed by bad tackles, nobody confuses Keenum as a reliable passer who can anchor an offense.
Of course, his touchdown in the fourth quarter to Quick eventually sealed a 17-13 victory over the Cardinals. But it was also one of the few times crunch TD never going to come Keenum’s arm.