THOUSAND OAKS, Calif. (AP) — The Los Angeles Rams largely avoided injuries and adversity during coach Sean McVay's first two seasons.
Now both are piling up for the Rams, who have lost three consecutive games for the first time under McVay. But McVay remains confident the Rams can turn things around.
"To be honest, I don't think it's deflating. It's just something that we have to navigate through," McVay said Monday. "You have a choice in how you react to it."
The Rams will have to regroup without cornerback Aqib Talib and left guard Joe Noteboom, who will be placed on injured reserve. Talib has fractured ribs and could return later this season. Noteboom tore the ACL and MCL in his right knee in the 20-7 loss to the San Francisco 49ers on Sunday and will miss the rest of the season.
Safety John Johnson III sustained a shoulder injury against the 49ers and will undergo an MRI. McVay said Johnson, who is tied for the team lead in interceptions (2) and tied for second in tackles (51), could miss the game at Atlanta on Sunday.
The injury to Noteboom in the first quarter exacerbated the issues Los Angeles had keeping San Francisco's talented defensive line at bay. The Rams finished with 157 yards of offense and averaged 3.1 yards per play, the lowest totals under McVay in both categories.
"We're killing ourselves with early-down efficiency," McVay said. "We're not going to enable ourselves to ever have any sort of flow offensively if we're not more efficient on those early downs and do things to prevent ourselves from putting ourselves in those tough positions."
The run defense limited a 49ers ground game that had rushed for 702 yards in their previous three games combined to 99 yards on 41 carries. The Rams are allowing 3.5 yards per carry, which ranks fourth in the NFL.
WHAT NEEDS HELP
The most glaring sign of the Rams' offensive struggles was their failure to convert any of their nine third-down or four fourth-down opportunities, including two chances from the 49ers 1 in the second quarter when running back Malcolm Brown was stuffed. After ranking fifth in the league on third down (45.03 last season, the Rams are 19th this season and converting 36% of their third downs.
Defensive tackle Aaron Donald was a one-man wrecking crew with seven tackles, three tackles for loss, two sacks and a forced fumble. It was the 12th career game with at least three tackles for loss in 84 career appearances for the reigning two-time Defensive Player of the Year.
Wide receiver Robert Woods was held without a catch for the first time since joining the Rams as a free agent in 2018, though he did score Los Angeles' only touchdown on an 8-yard run. It was Woods' second career game in which he was shut out, the other coming on Nov. 8, 2015 as a member of the Buffalo Bills.
Brown, who had 40 yards on 11 carries starting in place of Todd Gurley, is day-to-day because of an ankle injury.
1.7 — The Rams gained just 1.7 yards per play on Jared Goff's 28 dropbacks. He completed 13 passes for 78 yards, the longest covering 12 yards.
The Rams will have to regroup away from the Coliseum, as their next home game does not come until Nov. 17 against the Chicago Bears. The first stop on their lengthy trip is a visit to the floundering Falcons on Sunday.