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Rams QB Matthew Stafford, Offensive Line Struggle in Primetime Loss to Titans

Rams quarterback Matthew Stafford and the offensive line both struggled against the Titans' defense in Week 9. What happened?
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After a seemingly perfect beginning to their marriage, quarterback Matthew Stafford and coach Sean McVay hit their first bump in the road against the Tennessee Titans. Facing one of their first true offensive tests, the Titans answered the bell by creating pure chaos for the Rams. Stafford and the Rams offensive line both looked confused, inefficient and ineffective throughout the night.

First and foremost, the Rams need to run the football more. The entire premise of the McVay offense is to run the football and create action off of an effective running game. Running back Darrell Henderson Jr. ran 11 times for 55 yards, which is good for five yards per carry. However. McVay refused to stick with the running game once L.A. was down 21-3 late in the second quarter.

As the Rams abandoned the running game playing from behind, it was all downhill from there. The Rams offensive line was forced into pass protection for the greater part of the night and they struggled to handle their own. Stafford dropped back to pass 48 times, and he was sacked on five of those dropbacks.

Given his history as a drop-back quarterback, Stafford’s lack of efficiency was surprising. Stafford posted an abysmal 41.9 passer rating on his 25 pure dropbacks on Sunday night, which was his worst pure passing performance of the season according to Pro Football Focus.

Under pressure, which he was a lot, Stafford only completed three of his passes for 29 yards. One of those pass attempts was an interception where Stafford was trying to avoid a safety with a defender draped over him as he attempted to get the pass off, but the Titans capitalized for seven points afterward.

The Titans' defense line wreaked havoc all night. With the exception of Andrew Whitworth, every Rams offensive lineman allowed at least three pressures with center Brian Allen allowing the most of the group.

The Rams will have to rebound next week against the San Francisco 49ers. Given the strength of their defensive line, McVay and Stafford will have a lot to fix before next Sunday. 

In a game next week that can be classified as a must-win contest against a divisional rival in order to stay afloat or presumably climb in the NFC West standings, returning back to the running game in an effort to get back to a more balanced approach is an aspect that should favor the Rams over the 49ers. The more McVay stays true to his offensive identity, the more the Rams will flourish down the stretch.

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