Happy Friday one and all. We were joined by Evan Craig of Turf Show Times this week to check in on the defending Super Bowl Champion Los Angeles Rams ahead of their matchup with the Arizona Cardinals.
1. The Los Angeles Rams have produced yards, but have been bitten by the turnover bug through two games… What do you attribute that to?
A clear lack of complementary football. The Rams can’t seem to get their ground game going whatsoever which is putting greater stress on Stafford and the passing attack to carry the offense. In Stafford’s first season in Hollywood, there were a total of two 100-yard rushers in 21 games. The rushing attack was dismal at best during their Super Bowl run and that lack of production has carried over into the start of ‘22. Also, Stafford does have a tendency of throwing really terrible picks. He is good for double-digit interceptions a year (around an average of 13 for his career). That part will be harder to correct as his gunslinger mentality is something LA has to live with. Of course, he wouldn’t have to continue trying to play the hero if he actually got a consistent run game around him for the first time in his career.
2. What on earth is going on with Cam Akers and does he go over or under his 37.5 yards rushing that DraftKings Sportsbook has him at?
This is a question that every Rams fan is wanting to know. He bounced back after a rough opening week faster than a teen clears their search history. To this point, Darrell Henderson has been performing way better than Akers so I would prefer McVay sticks with him as the starter for the time being. Not to say that Akers shouldn’t get his touches but something appears off about his game and I can’t quite put my finger on it yet.
I would say he’ll go over 37.5 yards but not by much. I say that as Henderson has the hot hand so to speak and it makes sense for McVay to continue feeding him.
I’m wondering if he’s still suffering lingering effects from his Achilles tear last season. That could be a factor but I’m not going to sit around and play armchair doctor trying to figure it out.
3. The defense still looks good, borderline great, how have the off-season additions/losses changed the defense?
The free agent addition of Bobby Wagner has really strengthened the linebacking corps and his mentoring of second-year stud Ernest Jones has paid off in monster ways. Jones has 19 total tackles through two games and I wouldn’t be surprised if he approaches triple digits by the end of his sophomore campaign. Returning corner Troy Hill also added more experience that the secondary desperately needed. Problem is, he got put onto IR earlier this week so that hurts the unit a lot as they don’t have much depth there as they should. As for losses, losing Von Miller hurts but LA can still get after the quarterback with that Aaron Donald guy still roaming around.
4. Is the offensive line a concern or is it just a combination of changes and injuries thus far?
It’s been more of a combination of changes and injuries so far. I also believe the Rams are still hurting after not finding an adequate replacement for the retired Andrew Whitworth. It’s hurting them more than they’re letting on. Last week, the line performed very well. Of course that didn’t come against a strong pass rushing group but that shouldn’t take away from their performance. They come into this game against an even weaker front that has only registered a single sack thus far. I just want to see what kind of encore performance they have in them first before tinkering with the line yet again.
5. Most Cardinals fans still believe the NFC West runs through the Rams, but it seems like other fanbases (notably the 49ers) think it is ripe for the picking… What are your thoughts?
It’s still early but I would have to say as of now the division is up for grabs. I’d have to believe LA can get their act together eventually. I’m not going to fault them for a blowout and a near collapse to start the season. They haven’t been all that great to start but they have plenty of experience going for them which will help in the long run. The main divisional team the Rams should worry about are the 49ers. Trey Lance’s injury was unfortunate but Jimmy G despite all the hate he receives runs Shanahan’s system well, rivaling LA in the experience department.