The Rams have the potential to be a Super Bowl contender after their trade for quarterback Jared Goff, but they must find success in time for the playoffs. If Todd Gurley can return from injury and stay healthy, Los Angeles may win its first championship in 17 years.
The “rams defense losses” is a question that has been asked many times. The Rams had a great offense during the regular season, but now they are in the playoffs and have to face arguably the best defense in the NFL.
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ESPN’s Lindsey Thiry
- For the Los Angeles Times, I covered the Rams for two years.
- Previously, I wrote about the Falcons.
- Has written about the NBA, as well as college football and basketball.
THOUSAND OAKS, CALIFORNIA – Odell Beckham Jr. of the Los Angeles Rams reached up to make a two-handed catch in the end zone, then went high for a celebratory bump with teammate Cooper Kupp before collapsing.
“I had no idea what he was doing,” a perplexed coach said. Sean McVay smiled as he spoke. “At first, I believed he was doing ab crunches or something similar.”
Beckham’s 1-yard touchdown catch in a win against the Jacksonville Jaguars was his second in as many games, giving him back-to-back touchdowns for the first time since the 2019 season.
Do you have any extra crunches? It isn’t required.
Beckham delivered a self-revival jab as he returned to the field, signifying a career relaunch after the Rams signed him to a one-year, $1.25 million free-agent contract last month.
With a chuckle, Beckham said, “It’s simply from Call of Duty.” “It’s always nice to have a self-revive when you are down in life.”
Now, if the Rams can only get their offense back on track after a three-game losing skid, the departure of wide outs DeSean Jackson and Robert Woods, and a slew of mistakes from quarterback Matthew Stafford in November.
“As the season progresses, the number of games available decreases,” Stafford added. “You have to get out there and make a difference.”
On Monday Night Football (8:15 p.m. ET, ESPN), the Rams (8-4) take on the Arizona Cardinals (10-2) at State Farm Stadium in a game that has a lot of playoff implications.
The rematch against quarterback Kyler Murray and the NFC conference leaders, who thrashed the Rams in Week 4, will present an opportunity for the Rams to show that their star-studded squad is still capable of major victories and a Super Bowl run. The Rams have a 2-4 record versus winning teams, including four consecutive defeats, yet are 6-0 against everyone else.
“This is without a doubt a tremendous chance to gauge ourselves,” McVay said.
It will also give them an opportunity to show they’ve developed an offensive identity after 12 games under Stafford’s leadership.
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“Not just for Matthew, but for our whole offense, I want to see crisp, clean execution and an operation that stays on track,” McVay said. “So, how does it look? It might be in the run game or in the pass game, but there are a lot of different things that will be crucial.”
During the Rams’ 7-1 start, they relied heavily on Stafford’s arm, averaging a league-high 6.53 yards per play as the 13th-year quarterback threw 22 touchdowns and four interceptions.
The Rams’ interior line was pushed about in three straight defeats to the Tennessee Titans, San Francisco 49ers, and Green Bay Packers, and Stafford committed six turnovers, including three interceptions that were recovered for scores. After posting the league’s top overall quarterback rating of 78.7 in his first eight games, his QBR has dropped to 35.1 in the last four.
The Rams snapped their three-game losing streak with a 37-7 thrashing of the 2-10 Jaguars on Sunday, thanks to the legs of running back Sony Michel, who rushed for a season-high 121 yards and a touchdown on 24 carries in a run-heavy game plan that was once expected to be a key feature of this season’s offense, giving Stafford run support like he’d never had in his 12 years with the Detroit Lions.
However, there’s no assurance that formula will be used in the future.
“Hopefully. We’d all want to have more chances on our field “Michel speculated on the likelihood of a highlighted run game in the near future. “However, my mentality is to keep doing what I’ve been doing.”
|Category||Gms 1-8||Gms 9-12|
|Per-game total yards||405.9||349.0|
|Per-game passing yards||301.8||263.5|
|Per-game rush yards||104.1||85.5|
|% of third-down conversions||46.2||32.0|
|% of fourth-down conversions||50.0||42.9|
|Ratio of TD-Int||22:5||8:5|
In terms of the Rams’ offense, Stafford will almost certainly be relied on more as he becomes more comfortable with a revamped receiving corps and Darrell Henderson Jr’s recent injury and unclear health condition. He has been out with a thigh injury since Saturday and was put on the reserve/COVID list.
McVay, who was once recognized for his mastery of play-action with quarterback Jared Goff, has moved away from what had been the Rams’ bread-and-butter, with Stafford’s play-action rate declining from 32% to 23% over the previous four seasons.
Instead, McVay has given Stafford a plethora of passing options out of an empty formation 21% of the time, up from 11% the previous four seasons with Goff.
When asked whether a deliberate choice was made entering the season to shift away from play-action and depend more on his arm, Stafford answered, “We’re just trying to do what we feel like we’re best at.”
The Rams started the season with a receiving corps that includes Kupp, Woods, Jackson, Van Jefferson, and Tutu Atwell, who led the NFL with 100 catches, 1,366 receiving yards, and 11 receiving touchdowns.
After Atwell and Woods were put on injured reserve and Jackson was discharged, the team is down to Kupp, Jefferson, and Beckham.
“You’ve got a lot of moving parts,” said Kupp, who has increasingly been the target of defensive strategies aimed at restricting his output. “It’s all about the minutiae and executing what we’re asked to do; every play is about being purposeful about completing your job to the best of your abilities — good, horrible, or ugly — and then moving on to the next one and doing it again.”
Despite the fact that Woods’ season was cut short due to an ACL tear in his left knee on the same day Beckham signed his contract, the Rams were unable to replace Woods with Beckham due to their vastly different skill sets.
“We’d be coming home a lot sooner at night if it was that straightforward,” offensive coordinator Kevin O’Connell said.
Instead, Jefferson, a second-year player, has taken up Woods’ position, catching nine receptions on 17 targets for 134 yards and two scores in the last two games, including a 79-yard touchdown grab in the Packers’ defeat.
Stafford remarked of Jefferson, “He’s doing well.” “Van has a lot of potential. He has the necessary work attitude and mentality.”
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Meanwhile, Beckham has had to pick up the offense and playbook at breakneck pace.
“Right now, you simplify things so you can play it, so you can line up quickly and know what you have to do,” Beckham said. Beckham has nine receptions for 127 yards and two scores in three games. “However, as time passes, you want to know what everyone is up to so that you can perform your job even better.”
Stafford said that the offense, particularly the passing game, is still a work in progress.
He said, “It’s all about the details and execution from everyone involved.” “The more specific we can become and the better our unit’s performance, the more effective we’ll be.”
McVay wants to be ready to address the question of what the offense’s identity may be going forward by Monday night.
“Hopefully, when I speak to you guys [reporters] after the game, we’ll be able to say, ‘This is the identity that we want to exhibit,’” McVay said. “And it will lead to a positive outcome for us.”
The revival mode has been activated.
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