Readers’ questions to the NFL: Are Staley and McVay under pressure in Los Angeles?
Readers had a lot on their minds after the Rams’ and the Chargers’ recent games. Rams beat writer Gary Klein and Chargers beat writer Jeff Miller answered some questions:
How hot is Brandon Staley’s seat?
Anne Wile, Marina del Rey
Jeff Miller: Not hot at all, at the moment. Staley has been a head coach for 21 games and his teams are 11-10. Bill Belichick started his career 8-13 through 21 games. Under their current management, the Chargers haven’t been a team that makes midseason coaching changes, which is something to keep in mind if things go sour here quickly. More than Staley, I’d say general manager Tom Telesco’s seat will be heating up first if it comes to that.
When will Sean McVay realize it’s time to hire an offensive coordinator? He seems lost trying to be the man and keep a handle on the rest of the flow. First down run for two yards is a staple.
Beev Boever, Coarsegold, Calif.
Gary Klein: McVay has had several offensive coordinators during his five-plus seasons with the Rams including Matt LaFleur, Kevin O’Connell and now Liam Coen. But McVay is the de facto offensive coordinator and play-caller. I would not expect McVay to give up play-calling anytime soon — or ever.
When is offensive coordinator Joe Lombardi going to make adjustments in the second half? He has shown NO creativity at all. If they don’t make the playoffs some of the blame must fall on Lombardi.
Harvey Smith, Dayton, Nev.
Miller: Second halves — and third quarters especially — have been an issue for the Chargers on both sides of the ball through four games. They’ve been outscored 75-31 after halftime so far. More than coaching, I think it’s execution and perhaps even mindset when it comes to the players. I don’t think a lack of adjustments is to blame.
It seems the Rams are unable to throw the ball downfield. Is Stafford injured, or is the problem the bad O-line (no time) and/or not enough receivers?
Lance Oedekerk, Fontana
Klein: Matthew Stafford has been dealing with right elbow tendonitis since last season. He received an injection during the offseason, did not throw passes during organized-team workouts and was limited in training camp. But Stafford says he is fine. And I haven’t seen any discernible evidence that it is affecting his ability to throw the ball down the field. The offensive line is a mess because of injuries. On Sunday, he will play behind the fifth different starting offensive line in five games. The absence of injured receiver Van Jefferson, who showed last season that he could be a deep threat, also has affected the passing attack. Tutu Atwell, a second-round pick in 2021, was supposed to be a deep threat but he has yet to prove himself in games and was inactive against the 49ers.
We know McVay will say it is himself and cover the players. What is the real reason the Rams are such a poor version of themselves? It makes no sense to say “I’ve got to do a better job of…” He isn’t throwing to other receivers except Kupp. Why? He isn’t doing much with running.
Greg Corbin, Santa Cruz
Klein: McVay will always fall on the sword for his players. Kupp has more targets than any receiver in the league, while Allen Robinson, who was supposed to be an upgrade over Robert Woods, has been virtually ignored. The aforementioned absence of injured Van Jefferson also has affected the passing attack. McVay and offensive coordinator Liam Coen said before the season that the rushing attack needed to improve. But so far it has failed to produce., The Rams rank 29th among the league’s 32 teams in rushing.
Why isn’t anyone talking about the Rams defense? Any defense that has Aaron Donald, Bobby Wagner and Jalen Ramsey has to be able to shut teams like the 49ers down instead of making Garoppolo look like Tom Brady. The Rams secondary plays 10 yards off the line of scrimmage on EVERY play regardless of down and distance. Receivers come off the line untouched and the defenders are not engaging until 10 yards down the field. This is insane.
Joe Pomparelli, La Quinta
Klein: The Rams defense had a rough night — as it seemingly always does — against 49ers quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo. Kyle Shanahan, the 49ers coach, deploys a quick-release passing game that for the most part takes away the Rams pass rush. That puts pressure on the secondary and forces those players to make more open-field tackles. And we saw how that turned out. Deebo Samuel and George Kittle are tough to bring down in any circumstance, let alone in the open field.
Will the Rams re-sign Odell Beckham Jr.? It’s obvious they need him.
Ricardo Castillo, San Diego
Klein: The Rams are one of many teams that will be courting Odell Beckham Jr. The Rams have not been shy about wooing him since the offseason as I wrote in this story last week. Given his history with them last season, and the fact that OBJ seems to love L.A., the Rams seem like they would be a frontrunner. But you can be sure that any team contending in November will be trying to sign him.
Is it known when David Edwards sustained the concussion? Cardinals game? Practice?
Dean Thompson, Madison, Wis.
Klein: The Rams have not disclosed when Edwards sustained the concussion. McVay said Edwards reported symptoms in the days leading up to the game against the 49ers.
Why is Tutu Atwell not receiving any playing time? He was taken in the second round due to his speed and potential, but he has been virtually an invisible man since the start of the season. Maybe he could successfully run a jet sweep with all of his speed. Just a thought.
Jim Voge, Cambria, Calif.
Klein: A jet sweep might be the answer. And you can be sure the Rams would like to find one. Because to this point it’s not unfair to say that Atwell has not lived up to his draft slot. He returned kicks last season before suffering a shoulder injury, and then shadowed Cooper Kupp during the offseason in an attempt to elevate his performance. Atwell performed well during training camp and appeared poised to step in as part of the plan to replace injured Van Jefferson. But Atwell dropped a pass in the opener against the Buffalo Bills. He got behind the coverage on a deep route against the Arizona Cardinals, but Matthew Stafford either overthrew him or Atwell drifted from where Stafford anticipated he would be. Atwell was inactive against the 49ers, but McVay has said that would not necessarily be the case this week.
The whole issue is the offensive line. Not just the plethora of injuries, but the fact that the Rams started with a makeshift OL this year to begin with. When the OL is bad then everything becomes bad: no running game at all, QB is constantly rushed and sacked, no possibility of anything but short passes. It’s all about the offensive line.
Jonathan Crumiller, Princeton, N.J.
Klein: The Rams certainly have had problems with the line. But not sure it’s accurate to say it was makeshift at the start. The Rams re-signed left tackle Joe Noteboom and center Brian Allen during the offseason and right tackle Rob Havenstein before the opener. They were pretty much set at all spots except right guard, and it was probably too much to ask rookie Logan Bruss to start from the outset. The plan most likely was for Coleman Shelton to start at right guard until Bruss was ready to step in, and then Shelton could return to being the versatile backup for all three interior line spots. Then Bruss suffered a season-ending knee injury, the first of several injuries that have impacted the passing and rushing attacks.
The Rams wouldn’t have gotten anywhere near the Super Bowl without Beckham on offense and Miller on defense. They were missing that vital glue of team unity. I don’t see them getting it back anytime soon
Will D, Sedona, Ariz.
Klein: No team has repeated as Super Bowl champion since the New England Patriots in the 2004 season. There’s a reason — it’s tough to repeat. The Rams certainly miss Miller and Beckham and what they brought to the field and the locker room. But we’re only about a quarter through the season. A lot can change — for better or worse. The Rams have a history of making moves around the trade deadline like the ones that brought them Miller and Beckham. So let’s see how it plays out.