Happy Friday one and all.
Thanks to Evan Craig for being generous enough to take his time to speak with us.
1. Do you believe that there is something physically wrong with Matthew Stafford or what is your take on his regression this year?
I’m not sure whether Stafford has reverted back to a pumpkin or what his deal is. I would point more to the lack of consistency around him more than anything else. This is not meant as a critique but this year’s version of Stafford needs to have everything working perfectly around him or else he’s not going to be very effective. To beat an already dead ram into the ground, he has one of the worst O-lines in the game and a barely-there running game. Yes, there should be a lot of finger pointing towards some of his decision-making but overall, what is he really supposed to do with the condition of a once potent offense. LA’s offense has collapsed around him and he has nowhere else to go but go down with them. Misery enjoys company you know.
2. We know the offensive line has a bunch of issues, but is it the only reason the running game is failing (outside of against the Cardinals)?
Play calling is part of this issue. McVay tends to abandon the run when the going gets tough and the running game lacks rhythm to get much of anything going. There’s also a personnel issue. For me, this core of running backs is poor and besides the offensive line, this has to be a position addressed in the offseason. I was a little surprised when the Rams didn’t trade for someone like Kareem Hunt at the deadline. Before the 49ers beat them to it (what else is new there?) they tried to get Christian McCaffrey. A quick band aid won’t be enough. While the O-line has only been part of their problems, this unit is in dire need of an overhaul if they hope to compete for more Super Bowls.
3. Cooper Kupp has been spectacular again, but what is going on with the rest of the receiving corps?
No one has really stepped up alongside Kupp. Allen Robinson has been somewhat better the last couple games but even then he hasn’t become the Robin to Kupp’s Batman like expected going into the season. Van Jefferson has hauled in zero receptions since returning from injury and I wonder if he’s fully recovered or still experiencing some lingering effects from it. As for the rest of the unit, there isn’t a reliable pass catching option at WR that could fill that void. The season’s obviously not getting any younger and they can’t continue to experiment with what they have. It’s a little too late to figure out where to plug who in and where. If this issue was ironed out, perhaps the Rams would be in better shape in this department.
4. The defense is playing relatively similar to last year in terms of points per game allowed, yet they are not getting after the quarterback as well, what is going on?
Similar to Kupp, on the defensive side of the ball Aaron Donald doesn’t have anyone to compliment him. Von Miller, who LA acquired at last year’s deadline, was perfect next to AD. Defenses would focus on those two while other players could come in and tee it off. With Miller gone, the Rams didn’t seek his replacement as they felt Leonard Floyd could handle additional heavy lifting. However, that hasn’t happened as Floyd has largely been a disappointment this season and he was their best option to pair with Donald. LA tried to swing a trade for Brian Burns to help solve this glaring issues but we know how that went.
5. Draftkings Sportsbook has the Rams team total for the game over 23.5, they have been over that only two times this season and only put up 20 against the Cardinals last game, are you taking the over (-105) or under (-115)?
I’m going to take the under for this game. Matthew Stafford might not even play this week due to being in concussion protocol. No matter whether Stafford plays or not, I would take the under as their offense can’t seem to find a rhythm. Should they play a backup QB, I expect this to for sure be a very low-scoring game so give me the Rams 13-10 in a defensive struggle.