Rams’ loss to Dolphins makes their week off less carefree – Press Enterprise
The Rams’ week off was going to be a chance to let down, rest up and look forward to a push toward the playoffs.
Then came Sunday’s loss to the Miami Dolphins.
It changed the mood and the agenda for the Rams’ bye week, and it turned up the pressure for the second half of the season, which begins two Sundays from now against the NFC West-leading Seattle Seahawks.
“I think right now it changes it a lot, because you’ve got that disappointing feeling of not accomplishing what we felt like we were supposed to yesterday, and it’s something that you’ve got to live with and deal with,” Rams coach Sean McVay said Monday. “Unfortunately you’ve got to kind of sit on this (defeat) longer than you’d like.
“But you can’t afford to let it linger for too long. You’ve got to kind of be able to look at the film today, and just kind of take a deep breath and get away, and be able to look closely at ourselves to make sure that we’re making any necessary adjustments for the second half of the season knowing that we still have everything out in front of us.”
The 28-17 loss in a game the Rams were favored to win, three Dolphins touchdowns resulting from four first-half turnovers by quarterback Jared Goff under blitz pressure, put a sour end to what was developing as an encouraging first half-season.
“It would be a lot more enjoyable bye, and I’d be in a lot better mood today, had we taken care of business and gotten to 6-2 instead of having this pit in my stomach at 5-3,” McVay said.
The Rams did have some good news Monday.
Running back Darrell Henderson’s quad injury isn’t serious enough to keep him out of the Seattle game on Nov. 15 at SoFi Stadium, McVay said.
Cornerback Jalen Ramsey was feeling better and at the Rams’ facility in Thousand Oaks on Monday after being sick and missing the Miami game.
After the week off, the Rams can look forward to the return of safety Jordan Fuller, who has missed three games with a shoulder and neck injury, and the addition of defensive tackle A’Shawn Robinson, who came off the non-football injury list but didn’t suit up Sunday.
McVay said again that he didn’t expect the Rams to make any trades before the NFL’s deadline Tuesday.
But the loss to the Dolphins left plenty to ponder for Rams coaches and players.
• Play-calling. McVay blamed himself for leaving Goff “open to mistakes,” but made clear he wasn’t absolving players.
“That is on me, but I also think the players have a responsibility in being able to handle those situations as well,” McVay said.
He said Goff has “done some really good stuff” in the first half-season.
“But, you know, some of the tougher plays we had yesterday were really tough,” McVay said. “Those are things he’s got to improve on.”
• Kicker Kai Forbath, the veteran signed to replace erratic rookie Samuel Sloman, mis-hit a 48-yard attempt at a field goal that would have brought the Rams within a touchdown and two-point conversion of Miami in the fourth quarter.
McVay preached “patience” on Monday, and said Forbath remains the kicker, but he said coaches would “evaluate” Forbath and practice-squad kicker Austin MacGinnis.
• The Rams gave up an 88-yard punt return touchdown by Miami’s Jakeem Grant.
“Yesterday we took a step in the wrong direction,” McVay said of the special teams.
The loss dropped the Rams out of a tie for second and into third place in the NFC West, behind 5-1 Seattle and 5-2 Arizona and ahead of 4-4 San Francisco.
After Sunday’s games, the Rams are tied in the NFC with 5-3 Chicago for the final spot in the playoffs that have been expanded to seven teams per conference this season.
They could qualify for the playoffs with a 9-7 record. It would take 10 wins to practically guarantee a spot. Getting there won’t be easy.
The Rams’ final eight games will include two with Seattle, two with Arizona and one at home with San Francisco, as well as a game at Tampa Bay (5-2 going into its Monday night game). The Rams could get to eight wins by going 3-3 in those games against other playoff contenders, and get to 10 wins by winning their remaining games at home against New England and the New York Jets. Losing at Miami left less margin for error.
McVay said he welcomed the chance to face teams they have to beat out but said it would be dangerous to spend the bye week looking beyond Seattle.
“I think yesterday is a great example of things that happen if you’re not totally in the moment,” McVay said. “We didn’t do a good enough job of that yesterday, and that’s why we’re 5-3 instead of 6-2.”
The Rams’ advantage over Miami in net yards from scrimmage – 471-145 – was the biggest in a loss in franchise history. … It was the first time the Rams turned the ball over four times in one half since 2008, a 28-3 loss to the Bears in St. Louis. … The game in Florida was the Rams’ first this season with fans in the stands. The limited crowd at 65,000-seat Hard Rock Stadium was reported at 12,397. “I think it was great, to be able to have some noise,” McVay said Monday. “I thought it brought a little more energy and life to the stadium, and that’s always a positive thing.”