The Los Angeles Rams are in desperate need of some good vibes and hope to find them in the win column this Sunday against the New Orleans Saints. Neither team has followed through on their weighty expectations entering the season.
LA has lost three straight games since entering their bye week at 3-3. Matthew Stafford should hopefully return to the lineup this week although he will be without his top target for at least a month. It just never ends with this team.
With both teams trying to delay calling their campaigns a lost cause, I spoke with Tina Howell from SB Nation’s Saints blog Canal Street Chronicles to gain more insight into L.A.’s opposition this weekend.
Q - The Saints sit at 3-7 through their first 10 games, their worst start since 2005. New Orleans was expected to be a playoff contender this season and that just hasn’t materialized. What exactly has contributed to their problems this year?
A - 1. Mounting injuries. We got bit hard by the injury bug early on and it just has not let up.
2. Poor coaching. It is clear that Dennis Allen was a great defensive coordinator for us, but he was not the guy to succeed Sean Payton.
Q - Dennis Allen has faced plenty of heat for the team’s poor performance on the field. Following the retirement of Sean Payton, his promotion at the time seemed like a no-brainer and I wouldn’t be surprised if the organization had second thoughts. How justified is the criticism of Allen and in what areas could he grow as a head coach should he last into next season?
A - It is very justified. He has too much of a laid-back attitude when it comes to discipline of the team. He has not made guys accountable when mistakes have been made. Sean had a No-nonsense attitude, he was very vocal and would get in guys faces. Dennis is just so different on the sideline. Also, he has made numerous questionable play calling decisions during games, has not made adjustments when necessary, etc. Last week, Alvin Kamara only had 8 carries. Keeping one of your best players on the sideline is a guaranteed way to avoid success. We keep losing and hearing the same things from him each week, yet nothing has changed.
Q - Speaking of Allen, he hasn’t committed to a QB following Sunday’s 20-10 loss to the Steelers. It’s been a seesaw battle between Andy Dalton and Jameis Winston lately. Could you provide more context into the Saints’ quarterback situation and who should they pivot to for the rest of the season?
A - Jameis Winston got hurt again early in the season and he tried to play through all the injuries which resulted in some rough performances. Dalton took over and we all thought once Jameis was healthy enough to play, he would be back on the field. For whatever reason, Allen has stuck with Dalton but that experiment needs to end. When Jameis is healthy, he gives us the best chance to win. Hopefully we see him back sooner than later.
Q - The defense has shown flashes of promise despite being sandwiched between mediocrity. They had the potential of a top-five unit going into the season and obviously inconsistent performances have cost them that chance. What has been the most problematic area on defense this season and how might the Rams best exploit it this weekend?
A - This is the most confusing issue with our team. They have regressed so much and honestly it is difficult to diagnose why. Injuries would be an easy answer, but we dealt with those last season and still managed to put-up good numbers. Maybe it is a mixture of things... Injuries? Losing players like Marcus Williams, Malcolm Jenkins and CJ Gardner-Johnson? Having co-defensive coordinators, instead of one definitive voice in command?
Q - Draftkings Sportsbook has the Saints listed as 4-point favorites with an O/U of 38.5. What is your prediction for Sunday’s matchup and how could the Saints bounce back in a must-win game?
A - I think it will all come down to who is under center and what Saints team shows up. We are a very talented team, but we are not showing up consistently on Sundays. I do think the Saints will find a way to win Sunday in a close one. My guess would be 27-24