NFL Q&A: What are Rams to do with Cam Akers? Should Chargers GM Tom Telesco be fired?
Rams fans were expecting to react to a trade of running back Cam Akers this week but, despite a “For Sale” sign on the running back, he remains on the team. The Chargers had their week off but fans were hoping they’d make a deal to improve their injury-depleted roster. Rams beat writer Gary Klein and Chargers beat writer Jeff Miller field questions and answer fan concerns heading into Week 9:
How do you think the Rams will try to fit Cam Akers with their game plans the rest of the season?
Alexander Helmke, Valencia
Klein: It remains to be seen whether the Rams retain Akers or release him. Coach Sean McVay said Wednesday that he had a good discussion in the morning with Akers and his agent. He said they would regroup later in the afternoon. Remember, Akers led the Rams in carries when whatever issue was brewing came to a head. So I could see Akers returning to that role. But will that translate to success for the Rams and Akers? The offensive line remains a hodgepodge so it’s not like much has changed since Akers last played. It will be interesting if he returned and played Sunday against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers because in last season’s divisional-round playoff game at Tampa, Akers fumbled twice. Those costly miscues got lost somewhat in the euphoria the Rams experienced when Matthew Stafford engineered a last-minute game-winning drive.
Rams publicly had been trying to trade running back Cam Akers, but with no deal done the question is whether the running back should be kept or released.
I can’t believe that with all the injuries, the only player Telesco signed was Jeremiah Attaochu. Odell Beckham Jr. is still available, but Telesco is just too conservative to be an effective GM. There are a number of players that could help this struggling team. Is there a chance that he signs a player that can really help? I remember when A.J. Smith signed Keenan McCardell just before the trade deadline. After that the Chargers were extremely competitive. Telesco needs to be replaced and, with a 56-68 record, he has the sixth worst winning percentage in the NFL. They say you are what your record is, and Telesco is pathetic. Is there any chance he gets fired after this season?
Harvey Smith, Dayton, Nev.
Miller: The short answer is yes, I do think Tom Telesco could be in danger of losing his job if this season ends sour for the Chargers. He has been the GM for a decade and, at this point, his teams have made the playoffs only twice. Professional sports usually demand more production than that. Owner Dean Spanos typically has shown patience in these kinds of situations, but there comes a point where something has to change if the results aren’t there. It’s rarely just one person’s fault in team sports. But there’s no shame in admitting something just isn’t working.
With all the injuries mounting (especially on offense), and then not making a move at the deadline, is Odell Beckham Jr. a possibility for the Chargers? With Telesco’s trade resume, I wasn’t expecting anything but thought maybe he could make a signing? I get cap is a major issue, but it is for the Rams too (who’ve also been linked to OBJ).
Dan Lundean, Hudson, Wis.
It had appeared injured Chargers receiver Keenan Allen (hamstring) might return this week but that seems to be a longshot now. Receiver Joshua Palmer (concussion) is also questionable.
Miller: I don’t think Odell Beckham Jr. is an option for the Chargers simply because they expect to get Mike Williams and Keenan Allen back during the second half of the season and both could return before Beckham is even ready to play. In other words, they could be at full strength when Beckham reenters the league, a situation that wouldn’t be very appealing to OBJ, either.
We all know the Niners have dominated the Rams in regular-season play for four years. The Times’ analysis of this, however, largely attributes it to some version of “the Niners just have their number.” Might there be more fundamental factors at play?
Bob Polkinghorn, Winters, Calif.
Klein: There are several factors that play into “the-49ers-have-the-Rams’-number” narrative. Most have been covered as the Rams losses have mounted since 2018. Is Kyle Shanahan in Sean McVay’s head? McVay denied it before last season’s NFC championship game (which the Rams won), but there is no question Shanahan’s familiarity with McVay is part of the equation. The 49ers repeatedly have played more physically than the Rams, on offense and defense. The 49ers’ ability to consistently rush Rams quarterbacks with four players has helped create game-changing turnovers. Jimmy Garoppolo, with the ability to get quick passes to playmakers such as Deebo Samuel, George Kittle and now Christian McCaffrey, enables him to play like Joe Montana against the Rams.
The Chargers offensive line seems to have regressed after so many injuries. What are the prospects moving forward?
George Morton, San Diego
The Times’ Sam Farmer analyzes each matchup and predicts the winners in NFL Week 9. The Bills will beat the Jets and the Eagles will improve to 8-0.
Miller: The immediate prospects depend mostly on the availability of center Corey Linsley, who is easily the most important member of the offensive line. He has dealt with a knee issue and food poisoning this season and, when Linsley doesn’t play, the difference is glaring. As for long-term prospects, the Chargers have a legit big-time left tackle in Rashawn Slater and three encouraging young players in right guard Zion Johnson, right tackle Trey Pipkins III and current left tackle Jamaree Salyer. I could see Salyer taking over at left guard next season when Slater returns from his torn biceps. It all depends on health, of course, but the Chargers’ offensive line situation is promising.
The Rams are the defending Super Bowl champions yet they continue to draw more “away” fans than Rams fans especially when facing the 49ers. You would think this would eventually change but it was worse this Sunday. What is it going to take — years for a new generation?
Julian Flaum, Thousand Oaks
Klein: Southern California is a region full of transplants from all over the world, not just the United States. So fans that move here from other places do not easily give up their allegiances. And the NFL deserting Los Angeles for more than two decades enables Southern California fans to adopt teams such as the Cowboys, Packers, Steelers, 49ers etc. … And, of course, the Raiders fan base has been strong. By acquiring star players and winning the Super Bowl, the Rams expanded their fan base. But I’m not sure much will change in the future as long. As Rams season ticket holders are willing to sell their tickets to other team’s fans for a hefty profit — and who can blame them? — it will remain a challenge for the Rams.
Get our high school sports newsletter
Prep Rally is devoted to the SoCal high school sports experience, bringing you scores, stories and a behind-the-scenes look at what makes prep sports so popular.
You may occasionally receive promotional content from the Los Angeles Times.