Are Panthers, with a new coach and quarterback, a remedy for shaky Rams?
They look like the perfect opponent for a struggling Rams team attempting to avoid a complete collapse.
On Monday, the Carolina Panthers fired coach Matt Rhule and defensive coordinator Phil Snow. Starting quarterback Baker Mayfield is almost certainly out because of a high-ankle sprain and backup Sam Darnold is on injured reserve, so interim coach Steve Wilks probably will start P.J. Walker on Sunday against the Rams at SoFi Stadium.
But Rams coach Sean McVay has his own troubled team to worry about.
A 22-10 defeat to the Dallas Cowboys on Sunday dropped the Rams to 2-3, the first time under McVay that they have had a losing record this late in the season.
The Rams scored only one touchdown in the last nine quarters. A week after the San Francisco 49ers sacked quarterback Matthew Stafford seven times, the Cowboys sacked him five times. Stafford lost two fumbles and had a pass intercepted.
The Rams’ next opponent, the Carolina Panthers, have fired coach Matt Rhule. Quarterback Baker Mayfield is said to be out with a high ankle sprain.
“In a lot of the instances the last couple of weeks, some of the mental mistakes that have occurred that have never been reflected in the last five years of how we’ve operated have reared its ugly head,” McVay said during a videoconference with reporters. “And to me, that’s on coaching, that’s on me and that’s where I really get irritated.”
The Rams are looking for “any and all solutions” and that “anything is on the table,” McVay said.
“You want to make sure that you guide your emotions in a manner that’s reflective of, ‘where are we finding solutions’ instead of being pissed off,” he said.
A few weeks ago, the Rams signed veteran offensive linemen Oday Aboushi and veteran center Matt Skura. Neither has played.
“Both of these guys have played a lot of NFL football,” McVay said. “We’ve got to continue to figure out, ‘All right, what is the best five based on the bodies and the availability that we have,’ and those guys are both here with maybe the expectation and the anticipation that they’ll be playing at some point.”
Offensive lineman Rob Havenstein said that after reviewing film Monday, his position group held a “closed door” players-only meeting.
The Rams were dominated at home by the Dallas Cowboys. Quarterback Matthew Stafford absorbed a nonstop pounding and turned the ball over three times.
“It comes down to a mindset thing,” Havenstein said of the line’s poor play. “Physical mistakes are going to happen, but our mindset the last couple games hasn’t been right. That’s something we’re going to address in practice.”
Multiple offensive linemen have been sidelined because of injuries. On Monday, McVay said guard David Edwards was in concussion protocol after absorbing a blow and leaving the game against the Cowboys. Edwards was sidelined against the 49ers because he was in concussion protocol but was cleared to play against the Cowboys.
Havenstein and left tackle Joe Noteboom have started every game. Both have said injuries and different lineup combinations are not an excuse.
“We lost a little bit of our foundation of the success we’ve had over the years — whether it’s communication, effort, technique, and I think some of that has been slipping,” Havenstein said. “There’s a handful of plays [against the Cowboys] that just can’t happen, that’s just inexcusable stuff ...
“The good thing is, the only good thing, is that it’s early enough in the season where we can get back to work and still kind of right the ship the way we want it. But that’s a mindset thing that we gotta change, and we gotta address and we gotta fix.”
Go beyond the scoreboard
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