LOS ANGELES (AP) – The Los Angeles Rams’ three-game stint as the league’s most beautiful team came to a screeching halt in their resounding loss to Arizona.
Coach Sean McVay still thinks the 37-20 beating couldn’t have come at a better time for the Rams (3-1), who likely won’t have a minute to linger on it while they are preparing to visit Seattle on Thursday night. .
“We won’t allow a single game to define us,” McVay said on Monday. “It wasn’t the ride we wanted from anyone, but luckily we have a short week to dust ourselves off and get ready to ride.”
The Rams ‘mistakes against the undefeated Cardinals were significant and fundamental – and largely absent from Los Angeles’ first three games.
The first offensive turnovers forced their defense to take bad positions and Kyler Murray fully exploited his opportunities. Matthew Stafford wasn’t very sharp the first time with a horned helmet, and McVay admits he didn’t call a good game.
But every problem stemmed from the fact that Murray and the Cards went through the Rams’ defense, which was the best in the NFL last season. After two tough consecutive outings against attacks led by elite quarterbacks with Tampa Bay and Arizona, the Los Angeles defense gets no respite with Russell Wilson across the line this week.
The Rams suspected they would take a step back this season defensively after losing coordinator Brandon Staley and four starters, but they still feel their offense has taken a big step forward despite a poor outing against Arizona. McVay and his players remain confident they can do enough offensively to keep up their defense in any game.
“You flip the ball twice in the first half and then the other practices haven’t really gone for touchdowns,” left tackle Andrew Whitworth said. “We had to settle for goals on the pitch and we weren’t able to score. Yesterday seven points was what you needed to get when you had football.”
The racing game was exceptional when McVay deigned to use it. Darrell Henderson rushed for 89 yards on just 14 carries as his offensive line opened up big gaps, and LA finished with 123 rushing yards despite just 23 attempts from McVay.
WHAT NEEDS HELP
The last two games brought up memories of the 2019 defense that prompted McVay to upset his coaching staff. Los Angeles surrendered 911 yards combined to Tampa Bay and Arizona, and not even an impressive season by Jalen Ramsey covered that group’s weaknesses in passing coverage and on the defensive line. Midseason staff moves are tough, but that never stopped Rams general manager Les Snead, who would do well to look for a veteran defensive back.
WR Van Jefferson continues to improve in his second season in the NFL. He caught all six balls thrown by Stafford for 90 yards and an early touchdown against Arizona. He’s been targeted 18 times this season, as many as tight end Tyler Higbee and just seven short of Robert Woods.
CB David Long Jr. was clearly targeted by Murray and Cardinals coach Kliff Kingsbury, especially early on. Long allowed five catches for 89 yards and one touchdown, including a 41-yard touchdown by AJ Green that Long took a penalty and still couldn’t stop him. It’s unclear if Long is a viable long-term replacement for Troy Hill as the LA nickel.
Henderson played the second biggest game of his NFL career after missing the game last week with a rib injury. The short weeks are particularly difficult for the running backs, so Sony Michel could get more action in Seattle.
0-3: Rams record in their all-blue uniform after losing to Arizona. Los Angeles hasn’t won by wearing royal blue jerseys and uniform pants since its complete uniform overhaul in 2020.
A win over the Seahawks would put the Rams back on track in NFC West and the overall race to be a Super Bowl contender, but it’s a tall order in a short week.
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