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Rams fall to 2-2: 3 things I think after crushing loss to 49ers

This is not the same team from last year

NFL: Los Angeles Rams at San Francisco 49ers Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports

The Los Angeles Rams can’t figure out how to defeat the San Francisco 49ers after losing an agonizing 24-9 beatdown in a crucial NFC West battle. LA has lost seven-consecutive regular season matchups to the Niners and seven of the last eight overall.

The loss caused the Rams to relinquish their brief hold on the division as they feel to 2-2 on the year. Let’s dive into this mess and I hope everyone took their antacids beforehand.

LA is suffering the dreaded Super Bowl hangover

I hate to say it but it’s becoming more painfully obvious by the week.

I know it’s early, possibly far too early to truly assess the status of this team.

But as we know, a quarter of the season has already passed and that’s plenty of time to say what desperately needs to be said about the 2022 Los Angeles Rams:

This IS NOT the same team as last year.

They are the same in regards to getting bullied by the 49ers. Sorry, I should’ve allotted more time for the wounds to heal first.

For one, Stafford looks HORRIBLE to start the year.

His best game of the season may have come last week against the Cardinals. Yes, he didn’t throw any touchdowns but he also didn’t have any turnovers either. He has been bitten by the nagging turnover bug in ‘22 while tossing six interceptions to just four passing touchdowns. Well actually, he did throw one touchdown the other team, something he has a real nasty habit of doing.

Through four games of the 2021 campaign, Stafford had an 11-2 touchdown-to-interception ratio. It’s staggering to see how far he’s fallen.

He’s not the only culprit either. LA’s supposedly strong defensive front was a no-show against a battered unit down to their third-string left tackle following an injury to Colton McKivitz who was already filling in for All-Pro Trent Williams. San Francisco’s O-line amazingly held up, allowing zero sacks.

Los Angeles also can’t close out games like they need to as well. On Monday night, LA was outscored 10-3 in the second half which allowed the Niners to pull away in the fourth quarter. In their first two games, the Rams gave up 21-unanswered to the Bills week one and nearly blew a 28-3 lead to the Falcons.

The Rams need to figure out how to close out games and fast. In four of their five games coming out of their week seven bye, LA will be playing opponents that had made the postseason last year. If they can’t get out of this funk, it’s not an overreaction to say that upcoming stretch will make or break their playoff chances.

Rams need to address the O-line by trade deadline...

In Matthew Stafford’s defense this week, he took an absolute beating against the 49ers. That’s not an excuse for his turnovers but the poor guy is taking a beating and it’s holding back the rest of the offense.

After taking two combined sacks against the Falcons and Cardinals, two teams that have a nonexistent pass rush, Stafford was sacked seven times by the vicious Niners front. That makes it a little tough to throw the football in a timely manner.

You know what else a bad line does? Makes it harder to run the ball. Crazy I know.

As much as everyone loves to crap on Cam Akers, some of it completely deserving, he had a rough time behind this line. Akers only rushed for 13 yards off eight carries for a 1.6 average. Cam does struggle with finding the proper running lanes but it’s always a challenge when the paths clog up so quickly.

Last week I said Akers deserves more opportunities. I’m still willing to give him a chance, and a slim one at that. He seems to be a player that needs perfect conditions to be even remotely effective. Part of his flaws as a player is that he doesn’t make the most of what he’s presented with. Take Saquon Barkley in New York who has a bad line but currently leads the NFL in rushing yards. Akers is obviously not Barkley and it shows.

I’m not trying to signal out Cam but this line clearly reduces his effectiveness much like Stafford’s. The problem we’re seeing is that the Rams underestimated the O-line this offseason and it’s really coming back to haunt them. Their blatant lack of anticipating these issues are why LA has to address the position in same way before the trade deadline.

This simply cannot continue with the way it’s going.

...And they might need another receiver too

Did Sean McVay forget that he has Allen Robinson?

Seriously, did he forget?

Every week I seem to mention the wildly inconsistent pass distribution and as of week four it still hasn’t improved.

It seems the only two pass catchers Stafford ever targets are Cooper Kupp and Tyler Higbee. Kupp led the team in receptions yet again with 14 for 122 yards while Higbee caught 10 passes for 73 yards. Coop was also targeted 19 times, again the most on the team.

Through four games, Ben Skowronek has more catches and yards than prized free agent pickup Robinson. Now who had that on your 2022 Rams bingo card?

Going into the third quarter, this stat should tell you enough about how bad the offense has been at spreading the wealth:

Allen was targeted a six times, catching only two for a whopping seven yards. The targets are coming for him but McVay has done a poor job scheming him open. I won’t say he’s washed just yet nor am I ready to go as far as to make this proclamation:

I will say that LA trading Robert Woods is looking worse by the week. It’s tough to lose a guy who was so entrenched in the offense for years and to then have a newbie expected to step in and immediately replace that production. Not only is that thinking unfair but entirely unrealistic.

Les Snead and company should consider making a move by the deadline for a receiver. OBJ needs to return and I’m not sure why it’s taking this long. If you snooze, you lose Les plain and simple. Of course, O-line is a more dire need at the moment but something has got to give.

This team has enough depth at the position so either they aren’t utilizing their personnel properly or they have the wrong personnel to begin with. Meaning, was signing Allen Robinson a mistake or has McVay not used him and others to the best of their abilities?

Again, maybe too early to answer but this group was expected to be a strength heading into the season, not the weakness it’s becoming.