Our Interview with the Enemy series continues this week with Evan Craig from Turf Show Times. Evan joins us to answer a few quick questions before the Los Angeles Rams face the New Orleans Saints in Caesars Superdome on Sunday afternoon.
TH: The Rams’ offense is currently ranked 31st and there has been a lot of talk of a “Super Bowl Hangover.” Sean McVay has even said “It’s not one fix.” What is your take on why they have regressed so much from last season?
EC: McVay is absolutely correct in his assessment. This team needs to overhaul a couple of key positions, namely the O-line and running back room. This will obviously not come this season and I’m uncertain whether they will be able to address it in the offseason with their limited cap space. LA is known for being quite flexible with the cap gymnastics but even that is a stretch as it’ll be a tough one to manage. The Rams have regressed due to not being able to play complementary football. They don’t have a run game or pass protection, so Matthew Stafford is forced to play hero. That is a lot on his plate and while he hasn’t played as well as last season, I attribute a lot of his issues to the O-line. How can Stafford or the rest of the offense expect to play up to their abilities if they can’t block or open up running lanes? I also will say personnel has been an issue too. LA doesn’t have quality running backs to turn to and their offensive line didn’t address their losses, especially with Andrew Whitworth retiring after the Super Bowl. This offense is now paying the price.
TH: Cooper Kupp suffered a high ankle injury against the Cardinals and will miss some time. So, who will step up in his place and what can this Rams offense do to overcome the struggles that have plagued them all year.
EC: This is a good question since I haven’t seen one wide receiver step up alongside him all season. Allen Robinson was expected to be that guy but he’s working his way towards becoming a major free agent bust. As of now, I couldn’t honestly tell you who could step up because there’s no one single player who could possibly replicate his production. That burden has to be carried by multiple pass catchers plain and simple. Tyler Higbee can only do so much as he’s basically been the Robin to Kupp’s Batman. The only way they can overcome these struggles is to insert some young blood who have been limited in their opportunities and see what they can make of it. I’m talking about Tutu Atwell (Rams fans will curse me for suggesting that) and preseason MVP Lance McCutcheon. Why keep these guys on the roster if you won’t use them? McVay has been quite poor in getting his receivers involved so there isn’t a better time to see what they can do. Better late than never I suppose. That means you too Robinson.
TH: What is the biggest obstacle that the Rams will face in order to defeat the Saints on Sunday?
EC: I can say just about anything that has gone wrong for the defending champs this season? If they can overcome their problems for just a week at least, maybe I can finally have a night where I’m not crying myself to sleep. I want to see how these Rams overcome adversity. In McVay’s tenure with the team, they’ve never had a worse start or finished with a losing record. This season has been completely new territory for them and I’m curious to see how they respond. Will they roll over and die or will they decide to actually show up this week? These final few weeks will be a strong indicator as to the character of this team. Sure, this wasn’t how their repeat campaign was supposed to go but how do they plan to save it? Assuming it’s not too late of course.
TH: Is there a Rams player who was not on many people’s radars, that has really stood out to you so far this season and why?
EC: Safety Nick Scott has been an underrated defensive back all season. Despite being the center of memes following a Josh Allen stiff arm in the opener, he has posted solid production across the board in the nine games he’s played. In a dismal showing for the entire team last week against the Cardinals, Scott was one of the lone bright spots as he forced a fumble and finished second on the team in tackles just behind Ernest Jones and Bobby Wagner.
TH: According to DraftKings Sportsbook, the Saints are currently 3-point favorites. Do you think they cover the spread and what is your final score prediction?
EC: Five of the Rams’ six losses have been blowouts. For as terrible as they’ve been this season, I believe they show up here. The Saints haven’t been great on defense but against an inept offense, anything is fair game. I see the Saints covering the spread and winning a close defensive battle at home 17-14.
Thank you again to Evan for taking the time to answer our questions. You can check out his work @TurfShowTimes
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