American Football

Rams-Broncos observations: Let’s talk about Baker Mayfield

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Rams-Broncos observations: Let’s talk about Baker Mayfield
Photo by Katelyn Mulcahy/Getty Images

How Mayfield and the Rams running game finally got going against the Broncos

Baker Mayfield was as close to perfection as quarterbacks can get in the Rams’ amazing 51-14 blowout of the Denver Broncos on Christmas Day and finished with only four incompletions. He was efficient, mobile, and precise. Through three weeks, I’ve seen decent mobility, a quick release, good anticipation, and some zip on passes when needed from Mayfield. It’s gotten to a point where I really want to see Baker return to the Rams in 2022, but whether he wants to compete to start somewhere or accepts a backup role to Matthew Stafford is entirely up to him.

That would be an even better gift in 2023 than what Baker gave us on Christmas.

Denver Broncos v Los Angeles Rams
Photo by Katelyn Mulcahy/Getty Images

What else happened during L.A.’s most complete game of the season and what can Sean McVay hope to get out of the players who are more likely to return next year?

RB

Cam Akers had his best game on the stat sheet but it was apparent he was simply running better this game. He had more burst and power than he’s had all season. Could it be Akers simply took time to recover from the Achilles injury? He was also good in the passing game when Mayfield looked to check down.

WR/TE

The wide receivers took on a tertiary role in this game behind the running game and the tight ends. No receiver had more than three catches but I did notice Tutu Atwell was in motion on seemingly ever snap which means eventually he will get some play designs in these formations. I assume with the run game working and playing from ahead, McVay didn’t see the need to take any deep shots. As stated, the TEs stole the show in the pass game and Tyler Higbee had his best game of the last two seasons hauling in nine passes, two of which were touchdowns. Brycen Hopkins also got involved finally out of 12 personnel and showed off some YAC skills.

OL

I have to give this unit credit here. Against a tough Broncos defense, they gave Baker time to throw and opened up more running lanes than I’ve seen since last season. Ty Nsekhe is a player I’m continually impressed with at LT. Never expected him to be as solid as he’s been.

Defense: Soft zone scheme finally works against the 32nd ranked offense in the NFL

DL

Leonard Floyd has had a quiet little renaissance the last few weeks and is suddenly playing at a much higher level. Even more surprising is the play of Larrell Murchison who has consistently stood out since being claimed off waivers. I’m still not sold on Michael Hoecht as an edge rusher but I did see some nice moments from him in this contest.

ILB

Bobby Wagner had another great game and is undoubtedly the MVP of this defense in 2022. He was able to add an INT of his former QB to his resume, picking off Russell Wilson in the first half.

DB

Jalen Ramsey snagged a nice interception in the end zone in this game but it was rookie Cobie Durant that stole the show in the secondary. His first pick was an acrobatic catch. His second pick of the night came late and showcased good speed down the sideline. I don’t see any reason he shouldn’t be a starter indefinitely. He’s certainly better than Derion Kendrick.

ST

Matt Gay should be in the Pro Bowl. He’s been automatic from beyond 50 yards this year and has been a bright spot on this team since week one. Seriously, what kicker in the league has played better?

Overall

This was the best offensive scheme Sean McVay has rolled out all season. Tutu Atwell was in motion frequently. The 12 personnel was finally used and used effectively. Baker Mayfield and Sean McVay have unlocked each other. Baker played efficient football, taking what was given and excelling within the scheme. And it was all enabled by a run game that showed life for the first time all season long. On defense, the soft zone scheme returned but was able to triumph against the worst offense in football led by a version of Russell Wilson that has forgotten everything that made him special and/or has completely washed up on the shore of once heralded QBs. This season may be lost for the Rams but damn do I still enjoy winning. Blowing out the Broncos on Christmas night was a true gift and I can’t wait to continue to watch Mayfield and some of the young standout players in the final two weeks.

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