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Rams vs. Colts In Week 4 Preview

NFL power rankings: Colts move up as Rams visit in NFL Week 4

Scott Horner Indianapolis Star
Sept. 26, 2023

The Indianapolis Colts hold the AFC South lead as the Los Angeles Rams visit in NFL Week 4 action (1 p.m. ET Sunday, CBS).

The Colts (2-1) have won two straight road games, largely with Gardner Minshew at quarterback. Indianapolis scratched out a 22-19 overtime victory over the Baltimore Ravens one week after handling the Houston Texans.

The Rams (1-2) are coming off a 19-16 loss to the Cincinnati Bengals on Monday night. Quarterback Matthew Stafford was under siege after his left tackle, Alaric Jackson, left the game with a thigh injury. Cincinnati teed off on substitute Zach Thomas. Guard Joe Noteboom also left the game with an injury.

Surprisingly, the Rams defense has forced just 1 turnover.

It would have been easy to look at the Colts to start the season, especially after the Jonathan Taylor drama crested, and wonder if last season’s nightmare ever ended. But since the competitive loss in Week 1, the Colts have won impressively on the road in back-to-back games. The Utah duo of Zack Moss and Matt Gay were big heroes in the overtime win at Baltimore, but so was a defense that made big stops and cranked up the pressure. The big surprise Sunday was how much the Colts blitzed (40% blitz rate), something they typically do more selectively. But these are important victories for a club that has had to repeatedly lick its wounds in recent years. The Colts are growing thicker skin now.

There was so much going on in the NFL on Sunday that the Colts' win might be overlooked. They went on the road against a 2-0 Ravens team, without quarterback Anthony Richardson and running back Jonathan Taylor, and got the first huge win of the Shane Steichen era. Is it possible this will be the 2023 AFC South champion?

They are the first place team in the AFC South without Jonathan Taylor and Anthony Richardson, showing that Shane Steichen's offense can be special. Their defense is also compensating well for holes vs. the pass.

Just a beautifully designed offense in combination with a team that is seemingly unafraid. Shane Steichen, at every stop, has maximized his personnel. We’re seeing that now in Indy where a sort of patchwork group of players was smushed together and who now look like they have a purpose. Defensively, the Colts also stepped to the plate. Big tackles from the likes of E.J. Speed, among others, stifled critical drives.

Beating the Ravens on the road is a good look for this team, which is in first place. Doing it with a backup quarterback in Gardner Minshew makes it even more impressive.

Will Anthony Richardson play?

Colts coach Shane Steichen says Anthony Richardson is the QB1 when he passes concussion protocol. The Colts won't know whether Richardson is available until later in the...

Brian Baldinger questions Sean McVay's game plan vs. Bengals

Watch: Brian Baldinger questions Sean McVay's game plan vs. Bengals

Cameron DaSilva
September 26, 2023 9:51 am

Sean McVay had a tough night on Monday against the Bengals. Not only did the Rams lose, but he’s come under a lot of criticism for his questionable game plan.

He abandoned the run, had poor clock management at the end of the game and he did nothing to help his backup left tackle, Zachary Thomas, after Alaric Jackson got hurt. Fans were livid after the 19-16 loss and plenty of analysts called out McVay for some of his mistakes, with Brian Baldinger joining the party on Tuesday morning.

As part of his weekly breakdowns, Baldinger criticized the Rams for the way they countered the Bengals’ pass rush and blitzes – or, the way they didn’t counter them. In his first clip, Baldinger wondered why the Rams ran so many deep routes against a zero blitz.

Rather than using a short, quick passing game to get into a manageable third-down situation, none of the Rams’ receivers were even turned before Matthew Stafford got planted on his back.

“What I don’t get is this: You know it’s blitz zero, but it’s only second-and-10. Where’s the short route? Where’s the cut-off route? Where’s the route to get 5 yards to get to third down? Everybody’s running a deep route, Stafford has no chance.”

In his second breakdown, Baldinger asked a question that many Rams fans also asked. Where was the help for Thomas at left tackle?

“I know it’s a backup free agent tackle, but when you get that, you’ve gotta win, you’ve gotta knock the Rams out,” Baldinger said. “I don’t know what the Rams were doing by not helping a backup, Zachary Thomas, at tackle out like that? But you watch these plays, and this is the worst. You’re going to drop Hubbard and you’re just going to rush three. When you rush three and you move the quarterback like this, now Stafford’s gotta move.”

It’s fair for Baldinger to question this approach by McVay and the Rams. It seemed so obvious and everyone saw the trouble Thomas was having with Trey Hendrickson, who finished with 10 total pressures in the game. Yet, McVay didn’t adjust and kept dropping his quarterback with no chips or help on the edge.

McVay is a very smart coach but he looked bad on Monday night.

Video Breakdown: https://theramswire.usatoday.com/202...me-plan-video/

bungholes boink Rams 19-16; The Good, Bad and Ugly

The Rams record dropped to 1-2 tonight with a 19-16 loss on the road to cincy. The defense played pretty well, but once alaric jackson didnt return for the second half with an injury that no one on television even mentioned until into the 4th quarter, the Rams were unable to protect Stafford, resulting in an awful offensive half until we scored a td with a minute left to close the gap. Too many mistakes again tonight, including some bizarre play calling and even more bizarre substitutions after the jackson injury. We played just well enough to lose and demonstrated how little depth we have on the offensive line.

The Good

Stafford, Puka, Tutu, Higbee all had some nice moments. Tutu scored a td at the end, had a 37 yard catch, and a 22 yard run (that was originally ruled a td but was called back to the 3 yard line). Puka had 5-73, but nothing in second half until the long catch at the very end. Williams looked ok, but had few chances (one nice 20 yard catch and run). Stafford was fine early, but got killed the entire second half.

Donald played well and had a sack. Young and turner split a sack. Witherspoon had a terrific interception. The defense kept us in the game, even when they wore down and even with backs against the wall with bad field position, when the offense could not score td's. Ironic that its the defense hanging in there when that side of the ball has such personnel issues and inexperience.

The Bad

Williams had another bad drop that should have been an interception
The first interception was a bad decision by stafford, of course, jefferson didnt come back for the ball
The second interception was a tipped ball
Where was the running game? Cincy second to last in the nfl against the run after two weeks and we didnt test them all game long. Where were the screens (especially our wide receiver screens and slants against the blitzes?)
Can Noteboom make it through one game without going out hurt? Doesnt seem so.
Too many third down conversions allowed by cincy in second half, especially chase who killed us. Pass rush just not good enough, a real problem for our team, its all inside push, no edge rush at all from the Rams. Hoecht is awful and rosebloom cant tackle or cover.
Why is williams our punt returner when he is our #1 and basically only running back
I get that jefferson had a 40 yard catch, but he is almost useless at this point. Such a major disappointment.
Poor punt by evans before half put them in position to get the game tying field goal, 6-6 at half.

The Ugly

Alaric Jackson doesnt come on the field to start the second half. I see it immediately. Apparently, the sideline reporter, the broadcasters and spotters dont see or say a thing until 10 minutes left in the 4th quarter, notwithstanding the fact that thomas gets beat about 4 times in a row for sacks and hits and no one notices....


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