Rams look to build winning momentum

(News4usonline) – There are a couple of takeaways from the Week 4 NFL game played between the Los Angeles Rams and the Indianapolis Colts that just might give us a glimpse of how the team will do this season. First, it’s clear by now that rookie wide receiver Puka Nacua is the real deal. 

The second observation is that quarterback Matthew Stafford continues to flick the ball all over the field much like the season in which he led the Rams to victory in Super Bowl LVII.

If anyone has been wondering about how the run game will do, well Kyren Williams hopefully erased those doubts with his two touchdowns and 103-yard performance against the Colts. 

The defense of the Los Angeles Rams puts pressure on Indianapolis Colts quarterback Anthony Richardson (5) on Oct. 1, 2023. The Rams came through with a 29-23 overtime win on the road. Photo courtesy of the Los Angeles Rams

Finally, outside of defensive lineman Aaron Donald, linebacker Ernest Jones, safety Jordan Fuller,  and several holdovers from last season’s defense, defensive coordinator Raheem Morris has had to shape this unit’s identity with a lot of young players. 

So far, Morris has this unit playing tough. Against Seattle in Week 1, the Rams held the Seahawks to 13 points. In Week 2, Los Angeles went toe-to-toe with the  San Francisco 49ers, and then in Week 3, the defense kept the Cincinnati Bengals under 20 points.

In their dramatic 29-23 overtime win against Indianapolis, the Rams put a zero spot on the Colts in the first half of that ballgame. McVay said the defense has been playing with an edge. 

“I think there’s an edge. I think there’s a toughness, there’s a physicality,” McVay said. “I think we’re continuing to learn how to be able to play 11 as one. I think there’s been a lot of really good examples of some really high-level stuff going on in these first four weeks and then there’s still a lot of room for growth. But these guys, they just come to work. They’re so consistent, they’re steady, they love football, they love competing.” 

On the other side of the ball, Stafford has been playing lights out so far this season. It’s early, but Stafford is the person who is making the Rams’ offense go. In Week 4, Stafford completed 67 percent of his passes, going 27 of 40 for 319 yards and the game-winning throw to Nacua. 

In three of the team’s first four games of the season, Stafford has thrown for more than 300 yards. As long as Stafford is upright, the Rams have shown they can compete with any team. 

The team got a slight scare when Stafford suffered a hip injury during the Rams’ road win against the Colts. On Monday, McVay said that Stafford had suffered a hip contusion. Later in the week, McVay said that Stafford would be a full participant in the team’s practice on Wednesday. 

“He’s as tough as it gets, you know that,” McVay said. “And so we’re not going to be running a lot of zone read or anything like that today so he’ll be in good shape. But there was some good swelling. Fortunately, they were able to kind of just get some treatment and some things to try to decrease the swelling and minimize that right after the game. 

“He does such a great job at taking care of himself and doing a lot of things at home as well. So he is, I think feeling good would be a strong way to describe it, but he’s able to go through and be a full participant which is a good thing for us.”

After practice, Stafford said he felt okay.   

“It’s Wednesday. It’s a little bit early in the week, but I was able to get out there and practice today. So being able to practice, I feel good that I’ll be out there on Sunday. I should be. Adrenaline’s a hell of a thing. I’ll probably be moving around pretty good. When you’re running, big guys chasing after you, sometimes you run fast, forget about what’s ailing you. I’ll be moving around just fine.”

Despite suffering a hip contusion in Week 4, Los Angeles Rams quarterback Matthew Stafford completed 27 of 40 passes for 319 yards and a touchdown to lead the team to a 29-23 overtime win against the Indianapolis Colts on Oct. 1, 2023. Photo courtesy of the Los Angeles Rams

Aside from the play of Stafford, the buzz around the Rams has been around Nacua. In just four games, Nacua has already reached the halfway point to a 1,000-yard season. In his first game as a pro, Nacua caught 10 passes for 119 yards against the Seahawks. He followed up that outing with a dominant performance against San Francisco, catching 15 passes for 147 yards. 

In four games, Nacua has a total of 39 catches for 501 yards and one touchdown. That one score came courtesy of a 22-yard throw from Stafford that Nacua hauled in for a touchdown to give the Rams their overtime victory against Indianapolis. 

The scary part is that with Cooper Kupp returning from injury (sooner rather than later) after being out with an injury, the Rams will form a lethal receiving tandem much like when Kupp was paired with Robert Woods. 

Stafford is excited about the prospect of having Nacua and Kupp on the field together.  

“Yeah, as many good players as you can get on the field is the goal,” Stafford remarked. “We have a ton of good receivers at this point so it’s a lot of fun. It’s a great thing to try to mix and match and try to find combinations of guys on the field and things that we can do to help those guys play to their strengths. That’s part of what the week is all about, go out there and try to execute it on Sunday against obviously a really talented Eagles team.”