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Rams Team Grades: Penalties Hurt L.A. In Another Close Loss

Despite out-gaining the visiting Carolina Panthers by 95 yards, the Los Angeles Rams dropped a 13-10 decision at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum on Sunday to see their record drop to 3-5 for the 2016 season. The Rams committed 10 penalties on the day for 109 yards in lost momentum, and the defending NFC champions from Carolina took advantage by holding the ball for 34:10 of game time in a game that really demonstrated all the flaws the L.A. roster and staff possess.

The Rams didn't score a touchdown until the final minute of the game, and once again, the offense struggled to score despite moving the ball effectively enough. With four straight losses now, including the last three by a combined 13 points, Los Angeles has reverted to its usual pattern after getting off to a nice 3-1 start to the season. The big wins over Seattle and Arizona seem like a long time ago for these Rams.

Offense: C

The Rams gained enough yards (339) in this game to score more than 10 points, but without a consistent running game (still), the Los Angeles offense just can't put points on the scoreboard. The Rams came into this game 30th in scoring at 17.1 points per game, and the offense couldn't do much worse than it did today. Quarterback Case Keenum was solid, but he couldn't make the big plays necessary to put the team in scoring position until it was too late. The interception he threw was an under-thrown ball that Keenum never should have thrown.

As for the running game woes, giving running back Todd Gurley just 12 carries in this game defied logic. Gurley is a workhorse back, and he should be carrying the ball 25-30 times in a game with a score like this one. He gained 48 yards on his 12 carries, and Gurley also helped in the passing game (four catches, 26 yards), but this guy is the best player on the team. The coaching staff needs to be feeding him the ball all game long. Without that commitment to the running game, the passing game will continue to struggle.

Defense: A-

Holding Cam Newton & Co. to just 13 points was a stellar effort by the Rams defense. Los Angeles did a great job shutting down the Carolina running game, although Panthers QB Cam Newton had a good day throwing the ball. Overall, however, Carolina gained just 244 yards in this game. Normally, that's going to be enough to win the game if the offense just does its job. Obviously, that wasn't the case Sunday. Newton completed 20 of 32 passes to keep the chains moving and the clock ticking as the Panthers ran up over 34 minutes of time possession.

So, it's impressive that the Rams defense was on the field that much without giving up too many yards and points. Although L.A. couldn't force a turnover in this game, the Rams registered five sacks on the day, which was very impressive. Defensive tackle Aaron Donald had two of those sacks, and he came into the game with just three on the season. Hopefully, Los Angeles can use this defensive performance as a springboard to a strong second half of the season on this side of the ball.

Special Teams: C

With the game on the line at the end, kicker Greg Zuerlein butchered the onside kick attempt, and that was one of the uglier Rams moments of the day overall. Zuerlein also missed two field goals on the day and, when the team loses by three points, that isn't a good thing. Admittedly, both were 55-yard attempts, but Zuerlein has the leg to make those kicks, and his onside attempt reiterated that he doesn't have the ability to control that powerful leg. Wide receiver Tavon Austin had a 19-yard punt return, which was a nice bonus.

Coaching: C-

Something has to change for this Los Angeles offense as the No. 1 pick in the draft, QB Jared Goff, continues to sit on the bench and the 2015 NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year continues to struggle. Head Coach Jeff Fisher and offensive coordinator Rob Boras aren't imaginative enough to get this offense working, and it's basically costing the Rams another season. Toss in 10 penalties for 109 yards, and the team just isn't performing well at all, and it's clearly lacking discipline. With a 3-5 record now, L.A. is a long shot to finish above .500 and make the playoffs. How long can the Rams stay with Fisher and his staff, when the mediocre results are always the same?

Los Angeles travels to New York next weekend to take on the Jets, and it's hard to see the Rams beating any team when they cannot score themselves—or if they continue to beat themselves with penalties. It's just another typical season for the team as it progresses lifelessly toward six or seven wins. This is not the way fans or ownership wanted the first season back on the West Coast to turn out. Again, it's probably time to part ways with Fisher and staff, since the group has been given plenty of talent and time to make this club into a winner.

Post Author: Sam McPherson.

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