Hungover in L.A.
By Rustyn Burnside, ESPN 977
Way back in July, Los Angeles Rams head coach Sean McVay was asked about any potential Super Bowl hangover concerns. This was a valid question, as after all, the last team to repeat back-to-back Super Bowl victories was the New England Patriots in 2004 and 2005. McVay’s response was unsurprisingly one of confidence in his championship squad. “What I have respect for is how competitive the league is," McVay said. "So, whether it’s a hangover – to me what that entails is guys think they are better than they are. They stop working the right way, complacency sets in, and the previous success you think has anything to do with your future success." (ZIMMERLEE)
McVay clearly believed then, that a so-called super bowl hangover was a byproduct of teams and players feeling as if they had made it to the highest level and had no further reason or motivation to put in extra work or effort. McVay would go on to mention that he felt the Rams had the right kind of guys in our locker room, the right kind of coaches that are intrinsically motivated, They care about each other enough that they don’t want to let each other down, so I don’t worry about that." (ZIMMERLEE)
McVay did not worry about it then, but he might need to start worrying about it now. The Rams seem to be that squad he alluded too. Full of talent and accolades, but lacking in the department of hustle, drive and passion. After falling to a San Francisco team who looked porous a week ago, the Rams clearly have large question marks for a team that just hoisted the Lombardi. The Rams now sit at 2-2 with less than inspiring wins over a tanking Atlanta team and a directionless Cardinals squad. The losses include the 49ers recently, and getting wiped off their home field by a title threat Buffalo Bills team on the night they lifted the banner up into the rafters at Sofi Stadium.
The Rams luxurious offense is 25th currently in yards per game and 26th in Points per game. They have been particularly bad in the 4th quarter when it matters, in the 4 games they have played, LA has a total of 3, yes just three, 4th quarter points courtesy of a made Field Goal against Atlanta. Against Arizona, Buffalo and San Francisco they put up a big fat zero in the closing quarter, meaning that even in wins they have been in protect mode rather than attack mode.
Matt Stafford, the hero QB that did what Jered Goff couldn’t last year, is now wishing he had Jared Goff’s stat line. Goff is tied atop the league in touchdowns thrown, Stafford has a 4-6 Touchdown to Interception ratio and barely sits top 15 in passing yards. No other QB has thrown more interceptions than Stafford at this point in the season. The electric arm of last year has yet to complete a 40 plus yard play after being the number one man for 40 plus yard plays last season with 18.
Cam Akers has been a bust, barely getting time and you have to go down to number 44 to find the first Rams running back, Darrell Henderson, for rush yards. For context, there are 32 teams in the NFL. Henderson has 138 yards. Giants QB Daniel Jones has 193 rush yards. On the bright side Copper Kupp seems to be the only thing not broken with 42 receptions, 1st in the NFL. 402 yards is 4th overall and 3 receiving Touchdowns is tied third.
The defense is faring a tad better at 15th best in terms of yards given up. In pass yards surrendered the Rams are 19th, while the run prevention unit is significantly better at 7th with yards given up at 92.3 a game. LA sits 17th in Points allowed per game, cementing them as a very middle of the road defensive team and a below average offensive unit. The statistics tell you 2-2 is fitting, and point to the Super Bowl hangover ending no time soon. The Rams will try to reestablish themselves as a threat at home against Cooper Rush and the 3-1 Cowboys this Sunday. The offense that lost its identity will have a tough time rediscovering it against Dallas and their” Doomsday defense”.