RAMS: Sean McVay is panning out to be the coaching prodigy Los Angeles Rams fans hoped for as the team passes the quarter pole of the season, defeating the Cowboys in Dallas last Sunday, 35-30.
The Rams began last season with the exact same impressive 3-1 record they currently have but this season feels completely different-- and for good reason.
Last season they had a rookie quarterback, Jared Goff, on the bench behind career journeyman Case Keenum. Jeff Fischer was the coach and could not figure out how to utilize his star running back Todd Gurley. After its great start, LA managed to lose 11 of their next 12 games, finishing last season with an embarrassing 4-12 record, in one of the weakest divisions in the league.
Fast forward to this season-- the rest of the NFC West looks even worse than they did last year and Goff is looking stellar in his sophomore year so far. He is getting the protection he needs to succeed, thanks to his offensive line and improved pocket presence.
When the offense is firing on all cylinders, Goff is able to utilize his threats on the outside which spreads the defense enough for Gurley to explode for big gains. Whether it is on the ground or through the air, Gurley makes plays whenever the ball is in his hands. Thanks to his sure hands and elusive route running, he is a mismatch for most linebackers and safeties in the league.
Gurley finished the game with 215 total yards from scrimmage, a career high. He gained 121 yards rushing and added another 94 yards receiving. The majority of those receiving yards came in the 3rd Quarter when Goff connected with Gurley on a skinny post down the middle of the field for a 53-yard catch and run touchdown.
Unlike his predecessor, McVay has quickly figured out how to incorporate all of his new shiny weapons and is creating a force to be reckoned with in LA. The Rams are currently the highest scoring team in the NFL, averaging 35.5 points per game, with the first quarter of the season in the books.
In Week 4, Tavon Austin came out of obscurity and managed to make an impact, though it was minor considering his major paychecks. The fifth year wideout had six rushing attempts for 48 yards and was used as a stretch play decoy more than an actual receiver.
The Rams will face the Seattle Seahawks next week in an important divisional matchup. If the Rams capitalize on their momentum and play like they have all season, then they should have no problem defeating the Seahawks at the Coliseum and will be two games up in first place.
CHARGERS: The winless Chargers lost another close game last Sunday to the (3-1) Philadelphia Eagles, with the final score of 26-24, at “home”, though Chargers fans continue to be out numbered in StubHub stands.
This is the third time this season the Chargers lost by a field goal or less. The Bolts are much better than their 0-4 record indicates, but are in the toughest division in the NFL and will have an uphill climb the rest of the way.
“I look at football in four quarters, just like the game. And we just stunk the first quarter of our season,” said first year coach Anthony Lynn after the game on Sunday. “ We’ve got three quarters left to figure some things out and get this thing turned around. There’s going to be a lot of evaluating going on tonight and into tomorrow. There’s some things that are going to change. But we’re going to get this figured out. We’re going to get this moving in the right direction.”
Luckily this Sunday the Chargers will head to the meadowlands to face a lackluster (0-4) Giants team. Statistically speaking, they are evenly matched in just about every category.
Philip Rivers and Eli Manning have almost identical numbers through the first quarter of the season. Both quarterbacks have thrown for six touchdowns and four interceptions. Each of them averaging a little more than 275 yards passing per game, while Manning’s mediocre 90.3 QBR barely edges out Rivers’ 87.8.
Both the Chargers and the Giants have struggled to move the ball on the ground this season. The Giants are ranked 31st in the league, averaging only 59.3 yards rushing per game. Los Angeles isn’t much better, averaging just 67.5, but both teams have poor run defenses so they will look to improve these stats on Sunday.
Chargers defensive end, Melvin Ingram has been on a tear to start the season. Ingram already has 5.5 sacks and is on pace for 22, just a half sack away from tying Michael Strahan’s single season sack record set back in 2001. He already has 18 tackles so far and is looking to shatter his personal career high of 65.
Currently the Chargers are at the bottom of the AFC West, sitting two games behind the third place Oakland Raiders who have been on a downward spiral the last two weeks. The Raiders are scrambling to replace Derek Carr who fracture a vertebrae in his spine last weekend and will miss the next two to six weeks.