Sports

Rams beat poor Panthers but head into goodbye week with plenty to fix


Via Eric D. Williams
FOX Sports NFC West Writer

INGLEWOOD, Calif. – One of the last players left in the dressing room, Los Angeles Rams All-Pro Receiver Cooper Kuppshared his vision of what his team’s offense would look like when active on all pylons: vintage 1980s San Francisco 49ers.

“Really, the identity of an offense by Bill Walsh,” Kupp said. “If you go back to the roots of what Sean really came from, it’s about stretching a team horizontally and making them defend every blade of grass.”

Kupp, of course, is referring to Hall of Fame coach Bill Walsh. The Rams coach’s grandfather, Sean McVay, John McVay, won 5 Super Bowl rings as San Francisco’s chief human resources officer.

Back then, the Niners used sweeping jets to stretch their defenses from one frontier to another. It’s also been a major fault for McVay over the years, and the Rams have returned to those levels with great team results. Win 24-10 via Carolina Panthers at the SoFi Stadium on Sunday.

Matthew Stafford in Rams’ victory

Matthew Stafford spoke to FOX Sports’ Laura Okmin following LA’s win over the Panthers. He said that the Rams will win on their own after the end of the first half.

“It’s really just an extension of the running game,” McVay said. “It’s not really a specialty. There’s a lot we’ve done as you’ve seen over the last few years. Giving it to any of our recipients is what makes it possible for people to honor that and legitimate explanation for it.”

Second year professional Ben Skowronek scored the first touchdown of his career on a 17-yard track with a stopper from the receiver Allen Robinson. A free agent addition from Chicago BearsRobinson scored his second touchdown of the year on a 5-yard route, ending with 5 receptions for 63 yards received.

kupp, Tutu Atwell and Brandon Powell also carried out jet sweeps, while Darrell Henderson Jr. carry a running load with 43 yards over 11 loads. The Rams finished with a rush of 111 yards for the day.

LA took a 10-7 lead in the first half before the Rams opened the door by beating the Panthers 17-0 in the second half.

However, revenue is still an issue. Matthew Stafford threw his NFL-highest eighth interception, resulting in Carolina’s only touchdown. His pass to Kupp was picked up by defending back Donte Jacksonwho ran it back 30 yards for the score.

Stafford leads the NFL with 11 passes across six games, including two score interceptions and one forced-to-contact interception. He’s an active NFL leader with 29 picks in his 13-year NFL career. Only Brett Favre (32) has more interceptions in tournament history.

Stafford finished at the top of the league with 17 interceptions last season. But the Rams have overcome those revenue problems, largely thanks to Stafford’s clutch play in the post-season period.

“It’s not a very impressive thing,” Stafford said of Friday’s pick on Sunday. “It’s just a difficult level happening in this game, and you have to keep it up.”

Along with the change of form, the lack of continuity and injuries have led to an unstable attack for the whole season.

Los Angeles may have lost another body at the front, when settling on the left Joe Noteboom had to leave the game due to an ankle injury. McVay said he fears Noteboom may have an Achilles crash. The Rams have lost the warm-up in front at left-back David Edwardscenter Brian Allen and the right guard Coleman Shelton due to injury, leading to problems in pass protection and running game.

Run back Cam Akers was inactive on Sunday for personal reasons and the Rams are said to be looking to trade him. McVay did not provide further information on Akers’ condition, saying he would address the matter in more detail on Monday.

However, the Rams are clearly the market for more offending players. Those names are likely to include the returning Carolina Christian McCaffrey, who finished with 158 yards of script for the Panthers on Sunday. Odell Beckham Jr is still likely to return to the team, too, with McVay this week saying the Rams have failed to make the final, best offer of their talented receiver.

That’s not how the Super Bowl defending champions want to start the year off. But entering the bye week, the Rams are 3-3, good enough to tie at the top of NFC West with the 49ers (3-3) and Seattle Seahawks football team (3-3).

McVay now has time to educate himself, help some players stay healthy and get his team on track for the second half of the season.

Players like linebacker Bobby Wagner understand that there is a lot of room for improvement.

“Whether it’s an interception or a malicious intent, things of that nature, a lot of what’s happening to us is because we’re doing it,” Wagner said. “So if we can fix those things and understand where we need to do better at goodbye, I feel really good with where we are.”

Eric D. Williams has reported on the NFL for over a decade, including the Los Angeles Rams for Sports Illustrated, the Los Angeles Chargers for ESPN, and the Seattle Seahawks for the Tacoma News Tribune. Follow him on Twitter at @eric_d_williams.


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