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The Los Angeles Rams have a lot of stars on offense, defense and their coaching staff and that worked very well last season when they won the Super Bowl. But something just isn’t translating now.
The Rams lost to the Dallas Cowboys, 22-10, on Sunday.
It was their second consecutive loss.
It was their third loss in five games and they now find themselves with a 2-3 record. So the defending Super Bowl champions are under .500.
“This is a challenging time right now,” coach Sean McVay said. “But I can assure you we’re going to keep swinging, we’re going to keep fighting…I know I’m not going to fold, I know these coaches aren’t and I know a lot of these players aren’t. We got to have some guys that continue to play better, we got to coach better, and that’s all we can do.”
The problem is 2-3 ties them for both second place and last place in the NFC West because the Arizona Cardinals and Seattle Seahawks have the same record while all trail the 3-2 San Francisco 49ers.
But forget the standings because the Rams have bigger issues to worry about than that.
First their offense has no real answers for threatening defenses beyond receiver Cooper Kupp or tight end Tyler Higbee.
Those two were targeted a combined 20 times Sunday. Beyond that the team had no real performance worth mentioning from its so-called playmakers. Allen Robinson, a major offseason free agent addition, caught 3 passes for 12 yards. The offensive line yielded 5 sacks.
“There’s a lot of different things but we’ve got to be able to run the football efficiently,” McVay said. “And then when we do not run the football efficiently, we’re having trouble protecting and be able to hold up and then can’t give yourself a chance to let things develop [downfield].”
And, unlike some incomplete teams that can overcome inconsistency on one side of the ball or the other, the Rams defense is not dominant enough to carry the team.
The Rams, I remind you, just gave up 163 rushing yards against the Cowboys. And Dallas backup quarterback Cooper Rush was not threatened or forced into any game-defining turnovers.
But make no mistake the Rams have their biggest problem on offense. They scored only one touchdown. That’s one more touchdown than they scored in a 24-9 loss to San Francisco in their previous game.
This team has found itself trailing in the fourth quarter in all its losses and been unable to respond. Their minus-41 fourth-quarter points differential entering Sunday’s game was last in the NFL.
Last season, the fourth quarter was quarterback Matt Stafford’s friend. He had 12 TD passes and zero interceptions with a 126.4 rating in the fourth quarter.
This year he has thrown 3 interceptions without a touchdown in the fourth quarter.
McVay, however, doesn’t think the problem is with Stafford.
“I love Matthew Stafford,” McVay said. “He’s doing everything in his power for this team. He needs some help.”
The best illustration of the Rams second-half problems came in this game when a poor punt gave them a possession starting at the Dallas 29 yard line.
They didn’t score a touchdown.
They missed the field goal.
That’s not defending Super Bowl champion football.
Follow on Twitter: @ArmandoSalguero