2017 NFL Week 4 Wrap: Rams are the West Coast Redskins

WASHINGTON — The Los Angeles Rams are the talk of the NFL at the season’s quarter pole. They’re a 3-1 squad that’s fun to watch: an explosive offense overcoming a bad defense, with the biggest complaint surrounding the former being a propensity to move the ball really well between the 20s and finishing drives with field goals rather than touchdowns.

Sound familiar, ‘Skins fans?

It should. The author of the 2016 Washington Redskins offense, Sean McVay, has taken his act to Tinseltown and basically replicated that dynamic as head coach of the Rams. The 31 year-old boy wonder who helped transform Kirk Cousins from a 4th-round backup to a Pro-Bowl passer here in Washington appears to have done the same with last year’s first overall draft pick Jared Goff.

The 2016 version of Goff could muster just five touchdowns in seven starts. The 2017 Goff has already thrown seven TDs with only one pick through his first four games, and his 9.2 yards per pass ties Alex Smith for the league lead going into the Chiefs’ Monday Night Football game against the Redskins.

McVay’s golden touch doesn’t just apply to the QB position. The Rams’ 142 points scored not only leads the league, but is the third-most in NFL history for a rookie coach in his first four games. Todd Gurley is off to a historic start, and finally looks like the game-changer at running back the team envisioned when they took him in the first round two years ago. Gurley is not only the NFL’s second leading rusher with 362 yards — he leads L.A. in receptions (20) and receiving yards (234). As his seven total touchdowns attest, he’s certainly their best dual threat running back since Stephen Jackson, and maybe even Marshall Faulk.

This has most of the league is asking, “Are the Rams for real?” It’s a fair question, but I have to ask a follow up: Hoe do you define “real?” If by “for real” you mean that this is a flawed playoff contender that’s risen from the ashes of last year’s 4-12 collapse, then yes. If you mean to ask if this team can leapfrog Seattle for the NFC West crown — well, that’s a different category of team altogether, one I doubt they’re ready to be quite yet.

The surprising reason for my skepticism is the Rams defense. Helmed by one of the best coordinators in the business, Wade Phillips’ crew has allowed 26.2 points per game (fifth-worst in the league) and 367.8 yards per game (seventh-worst). Although the unit has managed to score a league-best two TDs on interceptions, the defense has allowed nearly as many touchdowns (13) as the productive Rams offense has scored (14).

If that dynamic continues throughout the season, that’ll catch up to the Rams. We saw it here in Washington firsthand. Eventually, the offense will run into a defense capable of slowing them down, and it could happen as early as Sunday when the Seahawks come to the Coliseum. How the Rams to react to that will determine how far they go.

Regardless, we are entertained. Sunday’s win in Dallas could have been a historic rout if even half of those seven field goal drives ends with a touchdown instead. The Rams’ resurgence is a year ahead of schedule, and it comes at the perfect time for the NFL, considering people like me are still questioning the viability of pro football in Los Angeles.

Here’s where the Redskins stand in the updated NFL Week 4 Recap.

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Rob Woodfork

Rob Woodfork is WTOP's Senior Sports Content Producer, which includes duties as producer and host of the DC Sports Huddle, nightside sports anchor and sports columnist on WTOP.com.

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