Here’s what we learned, what we heard and what comes next after the Rams’ ugly 22-10 loss to the Dallas Cowboys on Sunday that gave them a two-game losing streak and dropped their record to 2-3:
OFFENSIVE LINEMEN WANT BETTER MINDSET
The Rams have constantly been asked this season: What’s wrong with the offense? Right tackle Rob Havenstein had a different and honest answer on Monday after he led a players-only meeting with his offensive linemen.
“I think it comes down to a mindset thing,” said Havenstein, one of six team captains for the Rams. “Physical mistakes are gonna happen, but our mindset the last couple of games hasn’t been right. That’s something we’re going to address at practice.”
The Rams’ offensive line, which has been decimated by injuries, had another rough outing on Sunday after allowing five sacks and 11 quarterback hits against the Cowboys. Rams quarterback Matthew Stafford took 12 sacks and 22 hits combined during a six-day span, including the “Monday Night Football” loss to the San Francisco 49ers.
Havenstein had a long pause after he was asked why the offensive line’s mindset hasn’t been right.
“You kinda sit back and wonder why,” Havenstein said. “At this point, can’t do anything about (the past). It’s just something that’s gotta be fixed. So that’s gonna start with me and the offensive line room and we’re gonna spread that through everyone. We just had a good talk and guys are gonna get ready to go. We’re gonna do what we need to do.”
Rams coach Sean McVay said multiple times after the loss to the Cowboys that Stafford needs help and that Stafford is “doing everything he can” on the field. The Rams’ offensive issues expand further than better protection for Stafford, but it has played a big part in why Stafford has struggled to generate plays downfield and why the rushing attack hasn’t found its footing this season.
“Handful of plays yesterday that just can’t happen,” Havenstein said. “That’s just inexcusable. … I’d say we lost a little bit of our foundation of the success we’ve had over the years. Whether that’s communication, effort, technique, and I think some of that has been slipping.”
McVay said he’s keeping all options open for fixing the offensive line, but he declined to say whether guard Oday Aboushi and center Matt Skura, two veteran newcomers, will get a chance this upcoming week to play. The Rams have had a different offensive line combination in every game this season because of injuries. The shuffling might continue in Week 6 with left guard David Edwards in the concussion protocol.
“That’s always something that we’re exploring,” McVay said when asked about adding outside help. “But I think the main focus and concentration right now is figuring out how to adjust and adapt with all of our moving parts. Figure out those players that are very new to us.”
It’s a frustrating time for the reigning Super Bowl champions and something they haven’t dealt with this early in a season during McVay’s six-year tenure as head coach. But there’s one positive in all of this for Havenstein.
Alexander: Rams’ offensive line issues hit them hard again
Matthew Stafford, Rams take more hits in loss to Cowboys
Rams’ Darrell Henderson gets no carries amid another sluggish rushing attack
Rams host Dallas Cowboys: Live updates, injury report and analysis from SoFi Stadium
Rams’ offensive line tasked with slowing Cowboys’ rush
“The only good thing is that it’s early enough in the season where we can get back to work and still write the script the way we want it,” he said. “That’s a mindset thing that we gotta change. We gotta address, we gotta fix and we gotta do it starting today.”
The Rams (2-3) will look to turn a corner against the Carolina Panthers (1-4), who have bigger issues after firing their head coach Matt Rhule on Monday. The Rams will host the Panthers at SoFi Stadium on Sunday and they’re considered 11-point betting favorites for the Week 6 matchup.
The Rams are likely more concerned about Panthers edge rusher Brian Burns than the coaching changes.
“I hate to see changes like that,” McVay said. “That’s the tough part of our business. It is production-driven. You hate that for the profession because of the respect and challenges that we all face. For us, it’s about getting ready to play the Panthers and what that looks like is something that we’re in the midst of figuring out as it relates to our game plan.”