THOUSAND OAKS (News4usonline) – The Los Angeles Rams had a rough November, going 0-3 with a bye week squeezed in during the month. After a sizzling 7-1 start, three straight defeats have put the Rams back to square one in the team’s chase of the ultimate goal, and that is to play in Super Bowl LVI.
So what does an NFL team say after dropping three consecutive games? Belief and confidence in themselves and their teammates are probable starting points.
Listening to quarterback Matthew Stafford, pass rusher Von Miller, and head coach Sean McVay as the trio met with and spoke to the media at the team’s practice facility in Thousand Oaks, the first impression you get is that there is no panic button to push.
The Rams are just coming off the heels of a 36-28 road defeat to the Green Bay Packers, the same team that knocked them out of the playoffs last season. Of course, this loss was a tough one to swallow. So what is McVay’s approach to his team’s latest setback? The Rams have to learn from it and keep pushing.
“I think there’s so many different things that go on, but everybody’s got a role and a responsibility,” McVay remarked. “I think the challenge right now is let’s look at where your role and responsibility is. Let’s attack it to the best of your ability. Let’s do it with a resilient and a positive mindset and mentality with our eyes forward on the next opportunity that we do have. You don’t want to minimize the things that have occurred, but our guys come in. These opportunities present a rare opportunity to really learn about people and you almost appreciate them even more.”
McVay continued, “The way that our guys came in today, the look in their eye, the excitement about the next opportunity,” he added. “Are we disappointed? Does it sting what has gone on? Absolutely. Those are real emotions, but what we’re not going to do is just sit there with our head down and not get ourselves ready to prepare for that next opportunity. That’s what our guys are going to do.”
McVay, who is a master in positivity management, has proven to be able to have his teams ready and prepared. This is McVay’s fifth year as head coach for the Rams. Every year his teams have produced a winning record. He’s taken a Rams team to a Super Bowl. McVay wants a second trip.
Stafford is trying to get to his first big game. With three-quarters of the season already under his belt in his first year with the Rams, Stafford (3,316) is on pace to go over 5,000 yards in passing, and it is every bit conceivable that he’ll hit the 40 touchdowns (currently 27) mark as well.
Putting up huge statistical numbers is nothing new for Stafford. During his 12-year stint with the Detroit Lions, Stafford passed for 4,000 or more seven times. He also went over the 5,000 passing yards benchmark in his third season in the league.
While he has been surrounded by a talented wide receiving group to help him execute a prolific scoring offense, Stafford is more concerned about winning. So the team’s losing skid has come as a bit of a surprise to him.
“Yeah, you don’t ever want it to happen where you have games in a row or really games multiple games in a season where you’re turning the ball over multiple times,” Stafford said. “Has that happened to me? I’m sure it has. But the best thing you can do is just continue to look at yourself in the mirror and find ways to be better, continue to work on your fundamentals as much as you possibly can, decision-making, all those things go a long way.”
Stafford continues, “So, I just continue to trust the process that I have to get ready for football games and get ready to go out there and play at a high level on Sunday and let the chips fall where they may at that point.”
From all three men hitting the podium, what you got was a sense of calm in the room, like nobody is running down the street and pulling their hair out or overly freaking out or anything of that nature. Was there a sense of urgency or recognizing the moment of the situation the team currently finds itself in? Yes.
However, the bigger message being tapped on this afternoon, through body language and through verbal jargon was mostly about finding ways to be more consistent and building steady improvement to what the team is always doing.
For Miller, who was traded to the Rams from the Denver Broncos just before the NFL trade deadline, finding his rhythm while trying to be in sync with the rest of the defense is a matter of going through a process. Miller is confident that the synchronization will eventually take place.
“It just takes time,” Miller said. “We just got to continue to gel as a defense. I’m here, and you got ‘AD’ and we got this secondary, and it just takes a gelling period. It’s like having the (Miami) Heat when they first got (Former Heat Center/Power Forward and Hall of Famer Chris) Bosh and (Former Heat Small forward/Shooting Guard and current Laker) LeBron (James) and (Former Miami Heat Shooting Guard Dwyane Wade) ‘D-Wade’, it just took a couple of games for them to figure it out, man.
“And we’re doing the same thing here, man. It’s going to take a couple of games for us to figure it out,” Miller added. “And when we do, man, I’m super excited about this team, and this defense, and this rush, and this secondary, man. It’s going to be fun to watch on this home stretch.”
A lot of that comes from McVay, the man running the show for the Rams. This isn’t the first rodeo for either Stafford or Miller, both longtime veterans to the way of life in NFL. With six games left on their schedule, beginning with a non-conference matchup against the 2-9 Jacksonville Jaguars, McVay and the Rams have more than enough time to right the ship before the postseason comes calling.
The Rams are going to have to get up to speed pretty quickly because after playing the Jaguars, Los Angeles will have to travel to NFC West leader Arizona before entertaining the Seattle Seahawks at home.
“I always love just drawing on other teams that have found a way to fight through adversity,” McVay said. “This story isn’t written yet, that’s what we’re going to continue to do. Look no further than the team that just won the World Series in the Braves and where they were at mid-season. You look at who won the Super Bowl last year.
“Are we going through a little bit of adversity? Are we playing like we’re capable of? I don’t think so, but we’ve played the way that we’ve played and we’re going to own that. But now we get an opportunity to see if we can have a good week of preparation and attack the chance to go play against a really tough, physical outfit in the Jaguars this Sunday.”
Feature Image Caption: Los Angeles Rams head coach Sean McVay at training camp. Photo by Mark Hammond/News4usonline