LOS ANGELES – Heading into Sunday nights pivotal showdown against the Chicago Bears, our beloved Los Angeles Rams are in danger of missing the NFL Playoffs after last year’s magical Super Bowl run. With a (5-4) record, their season is derailing due to a struggling offense, lackluster play from their superstars and risky gambles from management determined to win now at all costs.
After Sunday’s humiliating loss to the Pittsburgh Steelers, 17-12, when the Rams anemic offense was incapable of scoring a touchdown in an astounding 15 possessions. Four turnovers and a measly three points was all the Rams could muster. In 2018, the Rams led the NFL in scoring, this season it’s dropped to 10th. What happened?
First, All-Pro Running Back Todd Gurley is no longer the premier rusher he formerly was. His nagging quad and knee injuries have limited him to 428 yards with only 6 touchdowns. The offense was predicated and built around Gurley’s excellence, enabling quarterback Jared Goff to confuse opposing defenses with the play action. For example, Gurley came alive on Sunday afternoon, with a strong 22-yard run in the 3rd quarter. Oddly, backup Malcolm Brown came in for Gurley for nearly the remainder of the game. Ram’s wunderkind Head Coach Sean McVay has left Gurley on the bench during several crucial moments in 2019.
Another factor is the injury bug is finally catching up with the Rams. Primarily with the offensive line. Once the steady bedrock of the franchise, Center Brian Allen as well as Guard Joe Noteboom will sadly miss the remainder of the season. The past two seasons, no Offensive Lineman missed a game.
Always the optimist, McVay is prepared for any new obstacle. “I think it’s a great challenge, let’s use this opportunity to try and see we can put guys in better spots, and ultimately find a way to win the game as a team,” said McVay.
Just one year ago, the Rams knocked off the Kansas City Chiefs, 54-51 at the Coliseum. The week 11 triumph was one of the most thrilling regular-season games in NFL history. The tenor going into this week, 11 matchup against the Bears is one of urgency.
The Rams are currently third in the NFC West, trailing both the San Francisco 49ers and the Seattle Seahawks, in what is hands down the strongest division in the league.
Personally, I believe the lion share of the blame falls on Rams quarterback Jared Goff. Goff has reverted to the issues which plagued him during his Super Bowl LIII 13-3 loss to the New England Patriots. The 2016 NO. 1 overall pick in the NFL draft has thrown 11 touchdowns compared to nine interceptions. Making matters worse, Goff has gone five straight games with a completion rate below 60 percent.
To be fair, Goff has been pressured on 40 percent of his drop backs. Opposing defenses have figured the Rams methods and schemes. The Rams reeked of desperation against the Steelers: the fake punt deep inside their own 30 yard line. To running the ball on third and long situations.
This is not a case of the dreaded, ”Super Bowl hangover”. These problems began to creep up last year. Rather, it is the tale of an innovative coach and general manager possibly making shortsighted decisions in order to hoist the Lombardi trophy this season.
Rams general manager Les Snead paid his three most important players – Gurley, Goff and defensive tackle Aaron Donald exorbitant contract extensions. Snead took a dangerous, albeit loyal gamble to keep his stars in the City of Angels. Let’s talk about the Jalen Ramsey trade. Arguably the league’s best cornerback was a disgruntled Jacksonville Jaguar demanding a trade.
The Rams obliged, perhaps giving up too much in return. The Rams received Ramsey while losing Cornerbacks Marcus Peters and Aqib Talib. Even worse, the Jaguars received first-round picks in the 2020 and 2021 NFL draft.
Can the city and the Rams afford his vision? Moving to the $5 billion-dollar SoFi stadium in Inglewood in 2020 has to be a part of his decision. Let’s not put the horse before the cart. We’ve got a best Da’ Bears.
The Bears are facing the same issues we are: an incredible defense, shaky quarterback play and Postseason aspirations. Lest we forget, on a Sunday night game in CHI town at Soldier field last year, the Bears had our number, winning 15-6. The Rams will also be missing wide receiver Brandin Cooks, who has suffered another concussion.
We need to support our Rams by making it out to the Coliseum on Sunday night. Kickoff is at 5:15 pm. The game will air on NBC. Prediction: Rams 24 Bears 21