Opinion: Star-studded Los Angeles Rams are now riddled with red flags amid skid

·5 min read

GREEN BAY, Wis. – This was not part of the plan for the Los Angeles Rams to go all-in for a championship run. The drubbing at Lambeau Field on Sunday ran the meter to 29 days since L.A. last won a football game. That’s three straight L’s. 0-for-November.


“Of course, I am,” Jalen Ramsey, the star cornerback, replied. “We have guys that are way too good for us to be losing games like this and losing games in a row. We’ve just got to get it right. We’ve got to play better. Everything has to be better because we’re too good to be losing games like this.”

Ramsey didn’t stop there.

“We’re not playing like we’re that good right now,” he added. “We’ve got to correct our stuff.”

It is always a tall order to beat Aaron Rodgers on his own turf, but that’s what the elite teams – like the Bucs with Tom Brady in the last NFC title game – find a way to accomplish.

During a 36-28 setback, the Rams (7-4) were nowhere close to the task. Sure, they kept battling and the final score was respectable. But as the game flowed, it felt like it was a lot more on the verge of becoming a blowout than a comeback victory.

Rather than a statement victory, the Rams can use some therapy.

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Odell Beckham Jr. #3 of the Los Angeles Rams walks off the field after Los Angeles was defeated by the Green Bay Packers 36-28 at Lambeau Field on November 28, 2021 in Green Bay, Wisconsin.
Odell Beckham Jr. #3 of the Los Angeles Rams walks off the field after Los Angeles was defeated by the Green Bay Packers 36-28 at Lambeau Field on November 28, 2021 in Green Bay, Wisconsin.

Remember the Rams from a month ago? Rolling at 7-1, they shrewdly added Von Miller to the defense and were poised to bring Odell Beckham Jr. into the mix. It was a team that was going places behind new quarterback Matthew Stafford and all of that creative energy from bubbly coach Sean McVay.

Maybe it will still happen for this team. But not like this.

It’s one thing to lose three games in a row. Yet this Rams skid has come with some serious red flags. They were manhandled in the trenches in falling to the Titans. Upset by a struggling 49ers team that found renewed confidence. Then came Sunday, when there were breakdowns all over the place and the three turnovers – including two more from Stafford, his third straight game with two giveaways – continued a disturbing pattern.

"We’ve got to stop with some of these self-inflicted wounds,” McVay said.

He sounded so frustrated, pointing out the wide range of issues that have piled up.

“If it was one, all-encompassing thing, it’s an easy fix,” he said. “There’s a lot of different things. That’s what makes football such a challenging game.”

A Stafford fumble set up the first Packers touchdown. Another score was ignited by a fumbled punt. Just before the half, the idea of getting the ball back for a last-minute drive was squandered when the Rams lined up offside for a punt, giving Green Bay a first down.

Just messy. Late in the first quarter, McVay’s decision to go for it on fourth-and-1 from the L.A. 29 yard-line backfired when Darrell Henderson was upended in the hole by Adrian Amos. Just one thing after another. Like the 4-for-13 rate on third downs.

And for the third straight game, Stafford had an interception returned for a touchdown, as Rasul Douglas stepped in front of a pass intended for Cooper Kupp late in the third quarter and ran it back 33 yards.

“I take a lot of responsibility,” Stafford said of the turnover trend. “Don’t want those things to continue to happen. I’ll just look within and see what I can do to be better in that area.”

McVay not only refused a throw Stafford under the bus but got a bit testy when someone implied that he might have reached the point of publicly criticizing his quarterback.

“Everybody wants to throw out 6 turnovers,” McVay said of Stafford’s count during the three-game skid. “All of them have a totally different story. And not all of them were his fault.”

Stafford, for his part, dismissed a Sunday morning ESPN report that suggested he’s suffered from chronic back pain and other ailments in recent weeks. He contended that health isn’t the issue.

“It’s not something affecting my play,”: he said.

It’s undeniable, though, that his team is hurting, at least figuratively with this wave of adversity.

It’s too early to push the panic button…yet fair to wonder if the Rams peaked too soon.

Then again, the Bucs hit the skids last November, then recovered for a hot streak down the stretch that took them to a Super Bowl crown.

“There’s a lot of football left, I know that,” Stafford said when someone asked whether he still felt the Rams have a Super Bowl roster. “They won’t stop the season right now. There’s a lot of ball left. And a lot of things can happen. Week in and week out, I think this year has been as up and down as I’ve seen, been a part of, in a long time…Hopefully, we still have a lot in front of us. I feel good about that.”

It’s not over yet. That’s the bright spot. But it’s also apparent that if the Rams don’t snap out of this November funk soon, the all-in playoff mission might become an all-out embarrassment.

Follow USA TODAY Sports' Jarrett Bell on Twitter @JarrettBell.

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Los Angeles Rams: Star-studded team now riddled with red flags

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