THOUSAND OAKS — Rams right tackle Rob Havenstein told his teammates to stay positive after their ugly loss to the San Francisco 49ers on Monday night because it’s only been four games and there are worse positions to be in than 2-2 and tied for first place in the NFC West.
But Havenstein also provided harsh reminders of how the Rams operate if mistakes aren’t fixed quickly.
“We’re four games in and mistakes have to be fixed,” said Havenstein, one of six team captains. “It doesn’t matter who you are, myself, anyone, if mistakes aren’t fixed … the next guy will do it or we’ll find a guy that can and that’s for everyone in the NFL.”
The Rams have built a reputation under Coach Sean McVay for aggressively finding the next guy if the current one isn’t doing the job. Also, this is the first time that the Rams aren’t 3-1 or better after the first month of the season in six years under McVay. That’s why the public outcries for finding the next guy have started early this season.
Last season, the Rams added wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr. and outside linebacker Von Miller to ignite their run to a Super Bowl title. There is no player of Miller’s caliber available to give the Rams’ defense a spark, but Beckham is still available and the Rams’ out-of-sync offense would certainly benefit from his arrival.
The Rams need Beckham and they badly want him around, which is evident from the locker stall with his nameplate still on it and the several times when coaches and players have mentioned his name during news conferences this season.
“Odell, come back,” Rams cornerback Jalen Ramsey said last month.
If the Rams land Beckham, who has interest from a handful of teams, he would help the Rams’ offense in multiple ways, but he wouldn’t solve all of their issues.
The Rams are averaging 17.5 points per game and they haven’t had a passing touchdown in back-to-back games because they’re in need of playmakers, but injuries to the offensive line and a struggling rushing attack also deserve blame for the poor offensive numbers entering the second quarter of the regular season. Stafford has taken 16 sacks this season and will likely have a third-string center in Jeremiah Kolone snapping him the ball against the Dallas Cowboys on Sunday.
Stafford is also struggling by failing to spread the ball and being overreliant on wide receiver Cooper Kupp, who has a league-high 54 targets this season. Kupp is doing his part, but that hasn’t led to a high volume of explosive plays for an offense that is slow and clunky on a weekly basis.
A healthy Beckham would likely increase the Rams’ explosive plays, but he’s recovering from the torn ACL he suffered during their Super Bowl LVI victory over the Cincinnati Bengals and it’s uncertain how he’d perform nine or 10 months removed from the injury.
“Odell definitely has a track record of doing that in the NFL,” Stafford said last month of Beckham’s ability to deliver explosive plays. “We’ve got a bunch of guys on our team right now who have a track record of doing that. We’re very close and just got to continue working together, doing everything we can to be as collaborative as we possibly can to go out there and help us put points out.”
Whether Beckham returns, the Rams will need prize free-agent wide receiver Allen Robinson to get involved in the offseason after a sluggish first month.
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“You gotta be able to move him around a little bit,” Rams offensive coordinator Liam Coen said about getting Robinson involved. “It’s a work in progress. It’s a work in progress to try to get these guys in the right spots, but also get open in the timing and the rhythm of the play, and be on the screws, where you need to be and when you need to be there, the trust, the connection, we’re still working on that.
“We do need to spread the targets. We know that.”
A Beckham reunion, with an involved Robinson and a healthy Van Jefferson, the starting wideout who hasn’t played this season, would likely help the Rams’ offense score touchdowns, but that might not help much without proper protection from the offensive line and a balanced attack with a productive rushing game.
It’s a work in progress, but they might not be a player away from fixing a lengthy list of offensive issues. The ugly loss to the 49ers was a wake-up call for how bad it’s been offensively for the Rams.
On the bright side, it’s only been four games.
“That’s something that we’re going to fix and get it going because we have the right guys in this room and on this team,” Havenstein said.
Getting left guard David Edwards back on the field would help the offense get back on track.
Edwards missed the game against the 49ers, but he was a full participant at practice on Thursday.
Center Brian Allen (knee), safety Jordan Fuller (hamstring), offensive guard Coleman Shelton (ankle) and cornerback Cobie Durant (hamstring) didn’t practice.