Rams Host Bears on heels of 49ers loss
October 22, 2020
Not quite ready for prime time. The Los Angeles Rams are looking to rebound from a lack of execution in their 24-16 loss to the San Francisco 49ers during the past Sunday Night Football clash at Levi's Stadium in Santa Clara. Yet, the team will have a quick opportunity to redeem themselves when they host the Chicago Bears this Monday, October 26, in the very first ever Monday Night Football game at SoFi Stadium.
For the second time this season, the Rams failed to show up in the first half against a quality NFL opponent. They lost 35-32 in a similar but more entertaining fashion to the Buffalo Bills in week 3. The offense showed very little resolve against a 49er team that was reeling from two straight losses at home. Despite being in a second place tie in the NFC West at 4-2, all four season wins have come against the NFC East, collectively the worst Division in the league in quite some time.
"I don't think it was a compounding of anything. It's just happens sometimes to the best of them," said Rams quarterback Jared Goff following the loss. " We struggled in some areas. It's starts with me, and if I'm accurate on all of those balls early on we're not talking about this right now."
Offensive left tackle Andrew Whitworth on the slow start: "Just didn't seem to be on the same page... normally we're crisper than that. All of us are looking at each other: "Hey. This isn't the way we start games. We got to be sharper. We got to be faster... It's one of those things where you hurt yourself the entire day and I think that's the part that's most frustrating."
The NFC Central-leading Chicago Bears come into town with a 5-1 record and fresh off a 23-16 victory over the Carolina Panthers. However, all five wins have been by a margin of seven points or less and their only loss came at home to the Indianapolis Colts, 19-11. Their season "turned" around when Nick Foles replaced starting quarterback Mitchell Trubisky in Week 3 against the Atlanta Falcons. Foles rallied the Bears from a 16-point deficit to win 30-26 and has been starting ever since.
The heart of the Lions is their defense. They lead the league, allowing only four total passing touchdowns and have held opposing quarterbacks to a 57.1 completion percentage. The defense had three sacks in an upset against Tom Brady and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers two games ago and sacked Carolina quarterback Teddy Bridgewater four times in Sunday's win.
"They've got a great rush. They've been really opportunistic. You see their playing really well on third downs and in the red area," Rams head coach Sean McVay. "It's a lot of the personnel that they've had a lot of success with over the last couple of years... So, it's going to be a tremendous challenge and we've got to do a great job of playing efficient and consistent really through all three downs."
The Bears have a total of 15 quarterback sacks this season, led by All-Pro outside line backer Khalil Mack with 4.5 sacks and 3.5 from defensive tackle Akiem Hicks. They'll need to keep that performance up this Monday to have success as the Rams have given Jared Goff good protection this season, allowing only 7 sacks total. Inside linebacker Roquan Smith leads the Bears with 52 total tackles, which ranks fifth in the league and fourth in the league with seven tackles for loss.
The Bears rushing defense is in the middle of the pack, having allowed 678 yards rushing and 4.3 yards per carry. The Rams running game is seventh in the league with 811 total yards and 4.3 yards per carry. Darrell Henderson leads the Rams in rushing with 348 yards, a 4.8 rushing average and three touchdowns. He also has one touchdown reception. Malcolm Brown has 217 yards rushing to go along with Cam Akers at 113 total yards.
Henderson had another fine game against the 49ers, running for 88 of the Rams 113 total rushing yards on 14 carries. But the team never got untracked, had to rely on a passing game that was out of synch as they fell behind and trailed 21-6 at halftime. Adding to the futility, rookie kicker Sam Sloman missed an extra-point kick after wide receiver caught a 10-yard touchdown pass in the second quarter.
It was Sloman's third extra-point attempt miss in 18 this season, prompting McVay when asked about his evaluation: "We've said it week in and week out. Obviously, you want to not have to continue to talk about the missed extra points or some of the things." The Rams followed up on Tuesday, announcing that they had signed veteran and former UCLA kicker Kai Forbath, coincidentally off of Chicago's practice squad.
The Rams placed outside linebacker Ogbonnia Okoronkwo on injured reserve to make room for Forbath. With the team a legitimate contender this season, having to rely on an inconsistent rookie kicker was not a solution to the kicking game. Forbath has converted 86.8 percent of his field goals and 93.8 percent of his extra-point kicks during his eight years in the league.
The Rams are undefeated in two games in the instantly friendly confines of SoFi Stadium as they look to avoid a consecutive loss to an NFC opponent, much less a contending one. "When you play like that, you're inconsistent, missing tackles, you ain't playing at your best, you tend to lose games, and we did today," said defensive tackle Aaron Donald. "They had the lead. They really didn't have to pass the ball. They were able to run the ball and do what they had to do. They didn't have to switch out their game plan. We just didn't play good."