NFL reader Q&A: Should Rams trade Jalen Ramsey? When will Chargers contend?
The season is not unfolding the way Rams and Chargers fans thought it might. Injuries, underperformance and play-calling are just some of the issues that have readers miffed. Rams beat writer Gary Klein, Chargers beat writer Jeff Miller and national NFL writer Sam Farmer address fans’ concerns and questions:
It appears to me that Jalen Ramsey’s production has slipped considerably this season. He has been burned often by leading receivers of the opposing team. He and other Rams corners have maddeningly been playing very loose coverage, allowing teams easy 5-to-7-yard completions with the threat of long gains with yards after the catch. Should the Rams consider trading Ramsey for a package of high draft picks in the upcoming draft?
Ram Ambatipudi, Glendale
Klein: With the Rams going through a lost season, general manager Les Snead and coach Sean McVay will consider all options. The NFL is a cold-hearted business. Every player is a potentially tradable asset. According to overthecap.com, Ramsey next season is scheduled to earn a base salary of $17 million and carry a salary-cap number of $25.2 million. That is a large financial commitment. Ramsey remains an elite player and no doubt would be valued by another team looking to contend for a Super Bowl.
The Times’ Sam Farmer analyzes each matchup and predicts the winners in NFL Week 14. The Raiders will beat the Rams while the Bills take down the Jets.
As a child I grew up following the Chargers, even went to a few games at the old Balboa Stadium in the old AFL days. After moving to Northern California in the 1970s I began to also follow the 49ers. After the Eddie DeBartolo debacle, the 49ers fell into the ownership hands of Jed York and had a great downward spiral for several years. At some point York stood back and gave the reins to football people who were given funding to field a team, at which point the team began to become a winner again. It is amazing what their current GM and head coach have done! Cut back to the Chargers, it seems obvious ownership is at a loss to field a winning team, in addition, [Justin] Herbert is getting the crap beat out of him! Will this ever change?
Joe Gee, Northern California
Miller: So the question is: Will the Chargers ever be good? The 2018 team I covered won a playoff game, at least. Does that count? The Chargers are one of 12 current NFL teams to never win a Super Bowl. My guess is that will change at some point, but good luck trying to forecast when.
They appear to have a promising future with quarterback Justin Herbert. If he plays here at an elite level for another, say, 12 years, I could see the Chargers contending for a Super Bowl title during that time.
I would imagine most team practices are on Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday and Friday. How long does practice last? And what do they do on Monday and Saturday?
Jeffrey Bortz, Boone, N.C.
Klein: The Rams’ schedule for a typical week with a game on Sunday would go like this:
Monday: Film review and rehab
Wednesday: Meetings, walk-through and practice
Thursday: Meetings, walk-through and practice
Friday: Meetings, walk-through, short practice
Saturday: Meetings and jog-through.
That schedule changes with the run-up to Monday night games and Thursday night games, but the routine stays mostly the same. Practices last about 90 minutes, though the Rams cut back as the season progresses.
Baker Mayfield was waived by the Panthers on Monday and claimed by the Rams on Tuesday. Coach Sean McVay said Mayfield could be available to play Thursday against Las Vegas.
If an NFL player is injured in a playoff or Super Bowl game with a non-guaranteed contract and is not physically able to play the next year, are they paid for the following year and by whom? What happens when a free agent like the Rams’ Odell Beckham Jr. gets injured in the Super Bowl and cannot play most of the year? How much do they get paid?
Phil Hershon, Chatsworth
Klein: Very few NFL contracts are fully guaranteed. But if a player signs a multiyear contract, and the team does not cut him after the season, he receives his pay the next season even if he is rehabilitating. Odell Beckham Jr. signed a one-year, incentive-laden contract with the Rams. He received his bonuses for the playoff victories and the Super Bowl. But the Rams’ financial responsibility ended. Also, remember that NFL players’ full salaries are paid per regular-season game.
More than ever, a team’s success is determined by who’s injured, especially the quarterback, rather than which is really the better team. I can’t think of another sport that has this dimension. Friends say I should follow soccer where, for the most part, your favorite players are there week after week. How do you change that?
Jack Meyer, Portland, Ore.
Klein: Quarterback is arguably the most important position in professional sports. You could argue that the great thing about the NFL is that a team’s situation changes almost weekly because of the injury situation, forcing coaches and other players to rise to the occasion and figure out ways to strategically overcome the losses. But I would not discount your friends’ advice. Soccer, especially at the highest international level, is great.
The Chargers have had a difficult time protecting Justin Herbert recently because of an injury-depleted line. The solution: Do everything faster on offense.
Miller: Football is a brutal sport that breaks bodies. It’s pretty much that simple. The best teams typically are the ones that avoid significant, long-term injuries and/or have excellent depth to fill in. There is no way to legislate injuries from the game.
With the Rams’ season basically over, what draft choices do they still have next year?
Stephen Rath, Phoenix
Klein: The Rams have a second- and third-round pick, three sixth-round picks and a seventh-round pick. They also are expected to receive compensation picks for the departures of free agents such as Von Miller and Austin Corbett.
What are the defensive coaches doing to teach defensive backs to wrap up and tackle instead of trying to knock them over?
Dale O, Jamestown, Ken.
Klein: Defensive coaches put players through drills with upright padded “dummies” and other padded equipment to practice tackling. Unlike in years past, few if any NFL teams actually tackle during workouts, even during joint practices with other teams. The collective bargaining agreement also limits the number of full-pads practices.
Farmer: NFL coaches have a powerful incentive for defensive players who miss tackles: the bench. Yes, there are teams that tackle poorly, but those situations usually end with the coach being shown the door. There’s no time in the NFL to “coach the fundamentals” in the classic sense. You’ll get that in high school, maybe a little in college. But these players are expected to know what to do. They wouldn’t be in the pros otherwise. They understand the advantages of wrapping up. If they don’t do it and consistently miss tackles, they don’t last long.
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