It was a nice opportunity for the Rams to get right as the Cowboys were still without starting quarterback Dak Prescott. Instead though, the Rams were beaten from the jump and wound up losing 22-10 to fall to 2-3 on the season. This marks the first time Sean McVay has been under .500 past Week 1 since taking over as head coach of the Rams.
The game got off to a nightmare start for L.A. as Matthew Stafford was sacked and fumbled on the opening drive with the Cowboys scooping it up for a touchdown. Then, the Rams had a punt block which led to a Cowboys field goal that put L.A. in an early 9-0 hole they could never recover from.
Through five weeks, everything has seemingly gone wrong for the defending Super Bowl champs. So with that being the case, where is the panic meter for this Rams fan?
I thought about going with a 10 here, but at the end of the day, McVay, Stafford and the other talented players on that roster have earned at least some benefit of the doubt. So I’m going to officially go with an 8 on the panic meter, and let me break down why.
Reasons for pessimism
Let me start with the bad because there is a lot of it.
The first and most obvious reason for the Rams’ struggles is that they cannot protect Matthew Stafford.
L.A. invested in its offensive line this past offseason by re-signing Joe Noteboom and Brian Allen and extending Rob Havenstein. They lost two starters in Andrew Whitworth and Austin Corbett though, and through five weeks that unit has been absolutely decimated by injuries.
The Rams are down to third and fourth stringers on their interior offensive line, and the results have been as expected. Stafford has been sacked 21 times, tied for the most in the league, and has been pressured on nearly every drop back.
If there’s one reason to be pessimistic about this team above the others, the offensive line is it unless they are able to pull off a trade to bring in reinforcements.
The offensive line is far from the only problem with the Rams’ offense though. The Rams rank dead last with 62.4 rushing yards per game.
Additionally, outside of Cooper Kupp, the Rams don’t really have any wide receivers that can get open. Allen Robinson was the team’s big offseason signing but has been non-existent through five games, as I wrote about last week.
The lack of a run game and perimeter threats opposite Kupp has also led to red zone struggles for the Rams. A lot of the time they haven’t had a problem moving the ball downfield, but L.A. has scored touchdowns on just 40% of red zone drives, which ranks 28th in the NFL.
In addition to the red zone struggles, the Rams have also had a problem taking care of the ball. A big reason for it is their inability to protect Stafford, but the Rams currently have 12 turnovers, the second-worst in the league. Their minus-five turnover differential ranks 29th.
While some of this stuff is correctable, turnovers were an issue for the Rams even during their Super Bowl run.
Reasons for optimism
Even though everything seems bad for the Rams right now, there are a few reasons for optimism.
Let’s start with the defense. Even though the Rams defense has given up some explosive plays and struggled to get a pass rush, they have seven takeaways and are middle-of-the-pack at 321 yards and 23.2 points per game.
That should be good enough to win a lot of games, but the offense has often put them in difficult spots.
Another reason for optimism is the players the Rams will be getting back from injury in the next few weeks, which includes Van Jefferson, Allen, Edwards, Coleman Shelton, Jordan Fuller, Decobie Durant and others.
Not to mention that the Rams have proven to be aggressive in adding to the roster, whether that means making a trade or adding a free agent such as Odell Beckham Jr.
The Rams have a prime opportunity to get back on track next week when they host the Carolina Panthers, who just fired head coach Matt Rhule and will be without quarterback Baker Mayfield.
If the Rams can go into their bye week at 3-3, they will have a chance to regroup for a week to get guys healthy and back on track. So even though the panic meter is very high at an 8, there is still a path to the Rams figuring things out and getting back into the playoff picture.