Inept Rams offense can't keep up with Patriots


The Patriots (10-2) pounded a lethargic and ammo-less Rams team, 26-10, on Sunday to give Tom Brady career win No. 201. He surpasses Peyton Manning as the winningest quarterback in league history.

Here's what we learned from the Patriots' victory:

1. The Rams (4-8) trailed by 17 points at halftime. They were out-gained 230-26 in the opening 30 minutes. Their total yardage was the lowest in the first half by any team this season, including the 49ers and Bears, who played in a Chicago blizzard and did not complete a pass in the first quarter. Rookie quarterback Jared Goff had a quarterback rating of seven, aided by three drops by wide receivers or tight ends that would have gone for first downs. One, from Lance Kendricks, caused an interception. They finished with seven total first downs and 162 total yards. They possessed the ball for just 22 minutes. The game became so uncompetitive that FOX switched the broadcast to Saints-Lions early in the fourth quarter. This was not the kind of game the team had hoped for, especially after news broke that coach Jeff Fisher signed a two-year extension during the offseason. While the stability of a franchise quarterback and team in a new location are important, it's hard to imagine that this is the way to solve their problems. Their star players on offense, like Todd Gurley and Kenny Britt, are trapped in a predictable, punchless system. Their star players on defense, like Aaron Donald, can only do so much to prop up a team that seems fundamentally broken with no clear solution. On the bright side, at least they let Goff go deep a few times against the Patriots. He has a wonderful arm at times that, some day, could be showcased properly.

2. Tom Brady is now the winningest quarterback of all time, passing rival Peyton Manning with an efficient performance against the Rams. The Patriots converted to power mode without Rob Gronkowski, which kept an injured Brady (knee) out of harm's way in the face of an oft-blitzing Rams defense. It's afternoons like these where we honestly believe the half-joking quarterback when he talks about playing until age 50. There is such a mechanical comfort -- even in absence of health -- that allows him to pick and pop a good defense to death. The touch on his back shoulder fade is as good as ever. He cares more than just about any player we've seen over the last decade, as evidenced Sunday when he was still arguing with offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels and prodding rookie wide receiver Malcolm Mitchell after a crucial third down drop. If the team manages to navigate their way back to the Super Bowl without Gronkowski, it will be on Brady's shoulders alone.

3. The Rams managed to string one nice drive together on Sunday. Goff connected with Kenny Britt for a 66-yard gain, which was the longest play allowed by the stout Patriots defense all season. The touchdown, on a clever bootleg rollout to Britt, managed to make the score far closer than the game itself. I don't know what Goff will project into, but squeezing him into this supposed power offense doesn't feel like the right fit. He has receivers who can play well downfield. Britt is a tough matchup in single coverage and, when healthy, Tavon Austin has game-changing speed. This is not new news for Rams fans who have been waiting for a breakthrough all season long, but perhaps it is to the architects of this offense. It's quite easy for us to sit here and say why don't they bomb it more? and perhaps Los Angeles' offensive line is causing more problems than we realize. But it would be interesting to see the team attempt to incorporate some elements of the Bear Raid system that Goff excelled in while at Cal.

4. LeGarrette Blount gained 88 yards on 18 carries Sunday -- yet another reminder that he is an excellent November/December/January back. The Patriots are wonderfully equipped to survive despite a rash of injuries thanks to this pair. Martellus Bennett is one of the best run-blocking tight ends in football and the offense will reinvent itself over the next few weeks as they are prone to do under Belichick.

5. Not to belabor the point on Fisher, but the Rams have not had a winning season since 2004 and will be lucky to eclipse five wins this season. With games against the Falcons and Seahawks (at Seattle) coming down the pike, this appears to be turning into the franchise's worst season since 2009. This past spring and summer, the Rams went by the moving playbook. They made a splash in the draft and they pumped themselves up on Hard Knocks. They declined, however, to make the one move that could have mattered. Moving a team has side effects on players that are impossible for us to understand, but if the coach cannot negate some of that through his actions, words or on-field mastery, why not search elsewhere? The Rams have next to nothing going for them and, absent an excellent offensive coordinator hire this offseason that could inject some life into this team, we cannot imagine Fisher is the man to alter their current path.