THOUSAND OAKS, Calif. (AP) The Los Angeles Rams insist there is no panic internally after losing consecutive games for the first time under coach Sean McVay.
Convincing those outside the team that everything is fine is another matter.
“My wife got vitamins out in the morning when we lose two games,” cornerback Aqib Talib said Wednesday. “You got to just get back to the basics and play football.”
Quarterback Jared Goff, who has been receiving the most scrutiny for his performances in losses at Chicago and against Philadelphia, was emphasizing that message. Goff’s production has dropped off during the past three games, throwing one touchdown pass and six interceptions in that span after posting a 26-to-6 touchdown to interception ratio over the first 11 games of the season.
Goff had another interception against the Eagles changed to a lost fumble by league statisticians, not that it offered any solace.
“Doesn’t matter,” Goff said. “It was a turnover.”
Cutting down on giveaways is the priority for the Rams (11-3) before facing Arizona on the road Sunday. Everything else brought up as the reason for the downturn in his productivity, from wide receiver Cooper Kupp‘s season-ending knee injury to struggles in pass protection, does not matter nearly as much as playing turnover-free football, Goff said.
“I think each game is independent of each other,” Goff said. “I don’t think there’s one singular thing. You look at the last game, just made a couple of dumb plays that hurt us and can’t do that.”
Goff said there is an extra determination to avoid similar mistakes against the Cardinals (3-11), which McVay said reflects the team’s commitment to getting back on track over the final two weeks of the regular season. Though he always stresses process over outcome, McVay admitted there is a different level of intensity this week because of the two losses.
“I’d like to think that regardless of what the outcome is, it’s the same, but human nature doesn’t really allow that,” McVay said. “I know there’s an increased sense of urgency from us as coaches. I sense that from the players.”
McVay said nothing changes in terms of the Rams’ preparations going into their final road game of the regular season, which includes the hand gestures and verbal cues the offense uses at the line of scrimmage to make adjustments, even after Arizona claimed wide receiver and return specialist Pharoh Cooper on Wednesday after the Rams placed him on waivers.
Passing game coordinator Shane Waldron said there was no need to change signals despite the understanding Cooper would be giving his new team detailed information on audibles and other aspects of the offense.
“I mean, there are some teams in the league where those signals or some of those things have been the same since 15 years moving forward,” Waldron said. “Some of those things, I think, are overvalued. You got to go out there and play football and execute at a high level. If you start worrying too much about hand signals or codewords you’re not allowing yourself to play fast, so we still feel we can operate as we have been operating.”
As confident as Waldron is in the mechanics of operating the offense, McVay remains just as enthused about Goff, provided his quarterback uses the handful of plays that have hindered the Rams the past two weeks to improve.
“Unfortunately, in him, we keep talking about two plays, and that’s the nature of the quarterback position,” McVay said. “But I would say this, we’ll continue to learn from it.”
Goff has no doubts he and the Rams offense will reap the benefits, no vitamins necessary.
“Again, we’re talking about things going bad when two weeks ago it was a much different conversation,” Goff said. “We need to fix some things and get some things ironed out and we will. I expect to do that this week.”
NOTES: RB Todd Gurley (knee) and Justin Davis (shoulder) did not participate in the team’s walkthrough Wednesday. McVay expects Gurley will be available to play Sunday. … McVay has not decided whether WR JoJo Natson or DB Blake Countess will return kicks in place of Cooper.
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