Los Angeles Rams: State of the Franchise at the Bye Week

by CJ Barber
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Despite a 7-1 start to the 2021 NFL season, the Los Angeles Rams find themselves on a two-game losing streak going into their week 11 bye week. This two-game skid has caused some panic within the Rams fanbase, including calling for coaching changes, scheme adjustments and personnel rotation.

Much of this criticism may be warranted. However,  like anything, not all of it will be. Fans tend to have a distorted perspective of the NFL. Simply put, they aren’t in the buildings of any of these teams. While it is normal to have these reactions when things go south, coaches’ jobs seemingly get called into question too early and often throughout NFL history. 

A flurry of Los Angeles Rams players and coaches have been subject to much criticism over the past week following the loss to the 49ers. Two losses in a row was always going to bring scrutiny to this Rams team. However, the way they have performed on both sides of the ball in those losses certainly made it much easier for fans to be highly responsive.

Offensively, the Los Angeles Rams out-gained their opponents 625 to 529. However, they’ve turned the ball over four times to their opponents combined one. Some fans and analysts contribute these faults to Stafford’s decision making, some blame it on McVay’s play calling. The likely answer? It’s a combination of these things.

Defensively, the Rams have given up 225 rushing yards and forced only one turnover in the two losses. The 49ers controlled the line of scrimmage and therefore the clock. Raheem Morris has used used a considerable amount of three-man fronts over these two games. This has allowed the Titans and 49ers to have some success on the ground.

Some remained confused following Monday’s game after watching Jalen Ramsey not cover Deebo Samuel or George Kittle. Samuel, of course, ended up putting the nail in the Rams coffin. The crossing route that would go for a touchdown after missed tackles in the secondary.

It’s not often that teams have super bowl expectations. Once an organization reaches that point, the bar is raised. This can cause overreactions to poor short-term, regular season performances.

Throughout all of NFL history, good teams have shown poor performances and stretches of games in the regular season. When Tom Brady went to Tampa Bay for the 2020 NFL season, he began the year 7-3 through 10 weeks. In weeks 11 and 12, the Buccaneers lost two straight games leading up to their bye week.

After starting the season 4-0, the 2019 Kansas City Chiefs lost four of their next six games before going on a run to win the Lombardi Trophy. In 2015, the Broncos started 7-0 before losing two straight games to sub .500 teams in which Peyton Manning threw six combined interceptions. This list goes on. 

Each one of these situations, including this year’s Los Angeles Rams, is unique in their own ways. However, one thing is abundantly clear – even the most talented teams almost always have struggles in the regular season. Whether it’s acquiring big names or retaining expensive talent in the NFL, expectations rise. The only way to avoid upsetting a fanbase is seemingly to win the Super Bowl.

Regular season wins are expected of players and staff, and anything less is subject to harsh criticism. That is precisely what the Rams are experiencing right now. This isn’t to say that the Rams are guaranteed to reach or win a Super Bowl this year. However, it is to say that almost every team that has played in that game experienced a rough stretch of regular season games along their journey.

The Los Angeles Rams have a real opportunity to bounce back over their bye week and put the last two losses behind them. They’ll get an opportunity to fix the issues that have come up.  Whether those flaws come from the players, coaches or both, Rams supporters should feel confident.

McVay has been to the big game before and NFL history shows their team is still very much in the conversation for a championship run. In fact, some would say they are now better suited for it.

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