Coming off the heels of reaching the Super Bowl, the Los Angeles Rams headed into the 2019 season, hoping to get back to that stage. However, things have quickly fallen apart that have created an ever-growing amount of concern about the future of the team after dropping their third straight contest in a convincing loss to the San Francisco 49ers.
It marks the first time under head coach Sean McVay that the team has suffered three straight losses. If the Rams hope to salvage their season and get back on track to compete for the playoffs, here are three issues they must tackle.
1. Offensive Line Struggles
Throughout the success of the first two seasons under head coach Sean McVay, the Rams had plenty of stability along their offensive line. That has certainly not been the case in 2019, as this unit has struggled to find any consistency.
Los Angeles hasn’t looked anywhere near the same explosive team offensively as they once were in the past two years. Instead, they have struggled to get off the ground, and that was the case against the 49ers with their defensive line dictating Sunday’s game.
The Rams struggled to maintain protection in the pocket for Jared Goff, who was sacked four times and had continuous pressure on him. Their offensive line also committed several penalties that stalled drives. The performance also showcased how legit San Francisco’s defensive front has become one of the premier units in the league.
Pro Bowl offensive tackle Andrew Whitworth has finally shown his age while injuries have plagued the rest of the line with Joseph Noteboom suffering a knee injury against the 49ers and Austin Blythe being less than full strength. That makes the loss of guard Roger Saffold and center John Sullivan much more evident.
There are plenty of issues on the offensive line that need to be worked out that may require them to venture into the trade market, such as prying away Trent Williams from the Washington Redskins.
2. Lack of a running game
Since the tail end of the 2018 regular season, the focus around the Rams has been on the health of star running back Todd Gurley.
The knee issues that nagged him last year have led the Rams to take a precautionary approach with Gurley. At this point, he’s unable to be the workhorse running back that the team needs him to be to provide that special spark to the offense, with them ranking 22nd in rushing.
Instead, it has put more pressure on Goff to lead the charge with his arm, and he has struggled as he has thrown seven interceptions through six games. The Rams’ offense greatly utilizes the play action, and without any real running game, it has significantly impacted their passing game.
It has brought up more pressing questions about Goff’s contract massive extension being a mistake. That chatter has only strengthened after his disastrous performance against the 49ers where he passed for a career-low 78 yards in the one-sided loss. In essence, the offensive line and running game issues go hand-in-hand, but there are two glaring issues through the first six weeks of the 2019 campaign.
3. Secondary woes
The bulk of the issues for the Rams certainly lay with their offensive shortcomings in two key areas.
Los Angeles has also struggled against defending the pass, where they have been in the middle of the pack. They entered Sunday’s game ranked 17th against the pass while allowing opposing quarterbacks to hold a 92.9 passer rating, ranked-worst with 39.9% passing first-down allowed, and fifth with 26.8 points per game allowed.
Some of these issues may be due to their offensive woes, but the Rams had trouble here as well. Former Pro Bowl cornerback Aqib Talib has had some hard times in coverage. Aside from injuries piling up at linebacker on that side of the ball, this is undoubtedly an area of needed improvement.