The Los Angeles Rams will try to salvage what is left of their disastrous first season back in Los Angeles this Sunday at the L.A. Memorial Coliseum against the Atlanta Falcons (1:25 PM, PT, TV: FOX, Radio: ESPN 710 AM/The Sound 100.3 FM).
The Rams’ promising 3-1 start quickly spiraled out of control into a terrible 4-8 record; including losing seven of their past eight games. Reports of conflict within the front office have surfaced, on top of the drama that ensued between Rams legend Eric Dickerson and head coach Jeff Fisher. The distractions off the field appear to be taking a toll, but can the Rams overcome it this week against the Falcons?
The Falcons and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers are tied atop the NFC South division with a record of 7-5. The Falcons boast one of the league’s best passing attacks. Quarterback Matt Ryan is having a Pro Bowl year, currently second in the league in passing yards with 3,813. Atlanta’s running game is a major threat, featuring the dynamic duo of Devonta Freeman and Tevin Coleman. The Rams defense will once again have their hands full trying to slow down yet another potent offensive juggernaut.
The Rams offense struggled again last week partially due to the incompetency of the offensive line. Rookie Jared Goff has been sacked eight times in his past three starts. Running back Todd Gurley rushed for an underwhelming 38 yards last week, and the Rams only mustered 10 points against the New England Patriots defense. If the Rams offense cannot establish a rhythm, and the defense cannot contain the Falcons offense, then good luck keeping this game close.
The play calling of offensive coordinator Rob Boras has been nothing short of atrocious for most of the year. Defenses continue to stack the box, which enables Gurley’s performance and challenges the Rams to rely on an inexperienced Goff. Opposing defenses have had a field day putting pressure on the rookie QB.
The Rams do stand a chance against Atlanta, but Fisher and the Rams need to step up. This means no more dropped passes, don’t turn the ball over, limit the sacks, minimize the penalties and don’t surrender big plays. Even if the Rams successfully alter their strategy, it still might not be enough to overcome the Falcons’ aerial assault. Las Vegas has the Falcons listed as a six-point favorite as of Thursday, but it’s unlikely that the Rams can keep it that close given the way the team has played recently. Still, stranger things have happened.
Sources: Luke Easterling, USA Today, oddshark.com, Mike Florio, profootballtalk.com
Martin Cruz is a staff writer for Rams Talk. You can find him on Twitter with the username @MCruz1988.