The Los Angeles Rams started the season on a hot note, but have since fizzled into their bye week. The team lost three consecutive games heading into their bye week, which involved constant travel and an adjustment the London time zone.
Head coach Jeff Fisher is not a coach to make excuses, but understands that his team needs to show vast improvements in order to turn their season around.
With Fisher reportedly being on the hot seat, this upcoming Week 9 showdown against the Carolina Panthers may prove to be a deciding feature in the outcome of the season.
The Rams enter Week 9 with the 11th best defense in the NFL, allowing 343.3 yards per game. Of that yardage, 239 yards are coming via the passing game (ranked 12th) and 104.3 and coming via the running game (ranked 15th).
They face a tough challenge in Week 9, as the Panthers seemed to have found another gear in their Week 8 beat down of the Arizona Cardinals. Their 2-5 record should be taken with a grain a salt, as the reigning NFC Champions understand and the capabilities to hit a hot streak.
Quarterback Cam Newton seems to be recovered from his concussion, although he states that he remains unsafe on the field. The running game set the stage for their matchup against the Cardinals and is likely the key against the Rams.
Coach Fisher, in an interview with Dani Klupenger of TheRams.com: stated that the Rams themselves need to be more productive in a specific area moving forward:
“We, as coaches, what you do is you take advantage of a couple of during the bye week and look at it,” Fisher said. “The things are obvious and obvious to our fans. We need to run the football better and do a better job defensively and protecting.”
On the offensive side of the ball, the Rams rank 30th, averaging only 307.6 yards per game. In terms of passing yards, quarterback Case Keenum and the offense is totaling 227.7 yards per game (25th), while the rushing attack is only gaining 79.9 yards per game (30th).
Pro Bowler Todd Gurley has not posted the same statistics he did during his rookie campaign, as he is battling through his sophomore slump. Defensives have now taken notice of Gurley’s abilities, with defenses stacking the box in hopes of more passes from Keenum.
Through seven games this season, Gurley has amounted 143 rushes for 403 yards. With an average of 2.81 yards per carry, Gurley has had a tough time transitioning into his second season in the NFL.
The 22-year-old can’t solely take the blame for the running woes, as the offensive line hasn’t been successful in creating holes for him to thrive in.
The Rams now face off against a pestering Panthers defense, which has a vicious front seven and totaled eight sacks against the Cardinals last week.