The Rams had never been under .500 since Sean McVay took over as coach in 2017 until this season. L.A. is a McVay-worst three games under .500. Plus the Rams lost star receiver Cooper Kupp before heading to New Orleans to face the Saints in Week 11. The Chargers are hoping to get some of their injured players back but nonetheless face a huge task at home Sunday against the AFC West rival Kansas City Chiefs. Rams beat writer Gary Klein and Chargers beat writer Jeff Miller address fans’ concerns and questions with eight weeks to go in the regular season.
With Matthew Stafford in concussion protocol and so many Rams out of the lineup on offense, when should Sean McVay consider letting the young guys play? Is there really any hope for this season or is time to look to the future?
Alex Helmke, Santa Clarita
Klein: It’s not a matter of letting the young guys play. With all the injuries, they are playing. Last week, rookie running back Kyren Williams played for the first time since the season opener. I would expect his role to grow. Rookie cornerbacks Derion Kendrick and Cobie Durant have been playing. Rookie safety Russ Yeast also played against the Cardinals on defense. And receiver Lance McCutcheon played on offense for the first time. With Cooper Kupp out, it will be interesting to see if McVay activates receiver Tutu Atwell, a 2021 second-round pick who was inactive the last two games. Atwell has one catch in two seasons. The Rams have hope until they are eliminated from the playoffs. If Matthew Stafford remains in concussion protocol, that day probably is not far off.
In light of all the Chargers injuries and lack of depth (general manager Tom Telesco standing pat before the trade deadline), when is the team going to hold Telesco accountable? I heard that the Patriots had concerns about the health of J.C. Jackson and Telesco signs him to play zone when he is a man-to-man coverage corner. Terrific Tom (I call him Terrible Tom) has a losing record after nine seasons and has made several bad first-round picks. The good first-round picks fell into his lap except moving up to take Kenneth Murray (never will be All-Pro). Williams, James, Herbert. Slater fell into his lap as he didn’t do anything creative.
Harvey Smith, Dayton, Nev.
Miller: I suspect ownership will hold Telesco accountable after this season. If the Chargers don’t make the playoffs, I would think there’s a good chance this team could have a new GM next year. I agree with your assessment on his top picks of late. They all seemed to be pretty obvious, including OL Zion Johnson in 2022. I don’t think Telesco is a terrible GM. He’s very responsible and does everything with the franchise’s best interest in mind. This team is in good financial shape right now because of him. But two playoff appearances in 10 years just isn’t enough in pro sports.
Would like to know why the Rams play a soft defense on all our opponent receivers. They always play 5-10 yards off, they catch and we tackle. Then we lose.
Steve Bastow, Santa Monica
Klein: Rams defensive coordinator Raheem Morris does not want to give up the big play. But it’s probably an overgeneralization to say they play a soft defense on “all” opponent receivers. And the Rams are not losing because of their pass coverage, although they have missed numerous opportunities for interceptions. They are losing because the offense has made the three-and-out an art form.
Seems everyone is on the hold-Tom Telesco-accountable bandwagon these days. Was going to suggest the Chargers bring back defensive tackle Linval Joseph since they are so short-handed and he knows the system from last season, but seems the Eagles beat them to the punch. So should the question be, is there any way Tom Telesco should keep his job?
Signed, all not bitter San Diego fans
Miller: Let’s see what the next eight games bring. This Chargers’ season isn’t in the dumpster just yet. Specifically regarding Joseph, the Chargers need someone for Sunday who can step in and play a decent number of snaps. That’s why they signed a player (Tyeler Davison) who was with a team (on Cleveland’s practice squad) as opposed to signing someone like Joseph, who has been out of the league since last year. Joseph, who also had offseason shoulder surgery, might be able to play a handful of snaps right away, but the Chargers need more than that.
I know Lance McCutcheon got in on three plays although no passes went his way. I watched his exhibition games, which were the reason I’m sure he made the Rams, but given the passing game why doesn’t he get a greater opportunity? He is a big receiver a la Robinson and in my humble opinion should possibly earn more playing time.
Don Atchison, Nanaimo, Canada
Klein: McCutcheon, an undrafted free agent from Montana State, impressed during the preseason. But he wasn’t going to beat out Cooper Kupp, Allen Robinson, Van Jefferson, Ben Skowronek, Tutu Atwell and Brandon Powell — all with more experience in the offense. To McCutcheon’s credit, he made the team and then improved on special teams and eventually found a way onto the active roster. Last week against the Cardinals, he played on offense for the first time. Now that he has played some snaps, I anticipate his role will grow.