Fans Lose Patience As Rams Lose Again
November 11, 2016
The honeymoon is over. The Los Angeles Rams crawled to the halfway point of the 2016 NFL regular season by losing their fourth consecutive game after starting the season at 3-1.
For the L.A. faithful the 13-10 loss to the Carolina Panthers was devoid of entertainment on any level. The lack of genuine fan intensity even when the team had the ball was clear and telling.
Somehow, a listless Carolina team came into the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum on Sunday, November 5 and beat a Ram squad that struggled once again to put the ball in the end zone. Despite piling up late offensive numbers in the fourth quarter the offense was predictable, unsteady and sterile.
The game also marked the unofficial awakening of an increasingly impatient fan base for the first time at the Coliseum since the team relocated from St. Louis. Ram quarterback Case Keenum is the primary target of their boos and frustration as drive after drive failed to score or inspire.
"We're going to lick our wounds here, and it's still fresh. I'm going to look at the tape. I would submit that Case was not the reason we lost this game today. We just didn't make plays in all three phases," said Rams Head Coach Jeff Fisher.
"The problem is, we've only scored two touchdowns in the last two weeks and therein lies our problem. We have to continue to keep the defense playing at this rate, this effort, and with the production. We have to find a way to get some turnovers on defense, however, and we have to figure out a way to score some points."
It's fair to say that the team is in purgatory until rookie quarterback Jared Goff sees his first official NFL action in a Los Angeles Ram uniform. Fisher responded to media questions about Goff's chances of playing against their next opponent on Sunday, the New York Jets: "I keep saying that as you guys keep asking the questions, he's improving.
"But, Case right now, especially against this defense, gives us our best chance. It's an extremely complicated defense, and they can pressure the quarterback, they can do anything they want to do. They're very, very talented. Our focus is this week against the Jets, and Case will be under center."
Los Angeles scored all of its points in the fourth quarter ending a six-quarter scoring drought. Greg Zuerlein kicked a 25-yard field goal with eight minutes remaining in the game to cut the lead to 10-3. Carolina countered with a field goal at 3:18 and the Rams scored their only touchdown with 34 seconds remaining when Keenum hit wide receiver Kenny Britt with a 10-yard pass.
Keenum: "There were couple plays there that I want back, but it wasn't good enough. I have to go look at it on film, but it was not good enough."
Keenum ended up completing 27/46 passes for 296 yards with one touchdown and one interception thrown.
The Ram defense continues to be the backbone of the team along with the kicking and punting game. Once again the defense kept the team in the game by keeping pressure on Carolina quarterback Cam Newton as well as the Panther running attack.
L.A. defensive end Robert Quinn on sacking Newton five times on Sunday: "Gregg (Williams, defensive coordinator), he called a great game, giving us opportunities to run. For the most part, the secondary had their guys locked down, giving us time... and our guys did a great job. Of course, we'd like to get the ball out and score on defense, but we rattled him in the pocket to give ourselves a chance. We just have to keep building from there."
The Rams will travel to MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford, New Jersey for this weekend's matchup with the New York Jets, a 3-6 team that also lost four in a row earlier this season and lost to the Dolphins at Miami, 27-23, on Sunday.
The Jets beat the Rams the last time the two teams played each other during the 2012 season in St. Louis, 27-13. The 2016 Jets are led by Ryan Fitzpatrick who is at the bottom of the league starting quarterbacks in QB ratings with an anemic 67.6 rating. The Rams' Keenum rating is only slightly better at 77.2 and the fourth worst among NFL starters.
New York is led in rushing by Matt Forte with 634 yards rushing on 169 attempts and seven touchdowns. Compare that to L.A.'s leading rusher, Todd Gurley, who has 451 yards on 146 carries and three touchdowns. Brandon Marshall leads the Jets in receiving with 585 yards gained on 40 receptions and two touchdowns.
Regardless of the team's recent woes Fisher and his staff are focused on the Jets as they prepare the Rams the second half of the season:
"Good opponent, very talented, extraordinary defense against," said Fisher. I think they're fourth or fifth in the league against the run. They've given up some big plays offensively that are pretty impressive.
"Matt's (Forte) playing really well. We don't know what the status of the quarterbacks are, but we expect to see Ryan (Fitzpatrick) and we expect to see him at his best, because this is an important game for them."
He also had one last word on Goff's playing status: "When he's ready, he's going to start, and he's going to play."