Rams’ All-Stars, rebuilding Jags look to break 3-game slips


NGLEWOOD, Calif. (AP) – The Los Angeles Rams faced one of the NFL’s worst teams at home in December last season. The New York Jets left SoFi Stadium with their first victory, and the Rams were left with the most embarrassing loss of coach Sean McVay’s career.

So there’s no way Los Angeles (7-4) could take Sunday’s visit to the struggling Jacksonville Jaguars (2-9) lightly – even if the Rams’ three-game losing streak didn’t. not already confirmed that they are able to lose to anyone these days.

“You don’t want to downplay the things that have happened, but… these opportunities present a rare opportunity to really learn more about people, and you enjoy them almost even more,” said Rams coach Sean McVay. “Are we disappointed? Does it sting what happened? Absolutely. These are real emotions, but what we’re not going to do is just sit there with our heads down and not prepare. to prepare for this next opportunity. “

Two teams on three-game slips meet when the Rams play their first home game since acquiring linebacker Von Miller and wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr. last month, creating what Jacksonville coach Urban Meyer called “a team of stars”.

Los Angeles’ bold additions have yet to go as planned: With three losses sandwiched around their week off, the Rams put their playoffs in jeopardy as they approach the home stretch.

They still have respect for the Jaguars, even when long stretches of their recent game haven’t demanded it.

“It will be difficult to find another defense that is more talented, but every week the teams have great players,” said Jags quarterback Trevor Lawrence. “There are a lot of them on this team, but that doesn’t change the mindset.”

That Jets ’23-20 win at Inglewood last season was also a big moment for the Jaguars: They ended up with the No.1 pick in the draft due to the Jets’ push at the end of the season, and they’ve got it. used against Lawrence.

Even without the Rams ‘fragile history since last year’s loss to the Jets, this game would be a chance to show the progress in the Jaguars’ rebuilding effort under Meyer and Lawrence. If the Jaguars have an optimistic outlook on their second West Coast trip of the season, they’ll see an opponent with a defense that has declined significantly from his 2020 dominance play alongside an offense that has declined markedly over the course of the season. for the past three weeks.

Jacksonville may be the last in the NFL with six takeaways, but Matthew Stafford has been exceptionally error-prone over the past three weeks, committing six turnovers himself – including a returned interception for a pick-6 at every loss in Los Angeles.

“The best thing you can do is keep looking at yourself in the mirror and find ways to be better,” Stafford said. “Keep working on your fundamentals as much as possible, the decision making – all of those things go a long way. I just keep trusting the process that I have to prepare for the football games.”

JALEN VS JAGS

Rams’ 2020 All-Pro defensive back Jalen Ramsey faces the Jaguars for the first time since they traded him to the Rams just over two years ago.

Ramsey left Jacksonville in a cloud with his relationship breaking off with former Jags boss Tom Coughlin, but the Rams have consistently praised him as a teammate and role model leader.

Ramsey is also extremely important to the Rams’ defense, playing a handyman role that allows him to fill in the gaps in their supporting cast. He’s likely to be all over the pitch against the Jags, who don’t have a dominant No.1 receiver.

THE START OF THE SCHOOL YEAR

The return of the Jaguars Jaydon Mickens will finally be able to play in his hometown. Mickens was scheduled to travel to Los Angeles with Tampa Bay in Week 3, but he missed the game with an oblique injury.

The Jaguars withdrew Mickens from the Tampa Bay practice squad last week after losing Jamal Agnew to a season-ending hip injury, and now the fourth-year pro can return home him. Mickens buys around 30 tickets for his family and friends, presents he hopes will also serve as Christmas presents.

“It’s a long overdue homecoming,” said Mickens, who begged Buccaneers coaches to give him “anything, anything, even an old-fashioned Toradol shot” so he could play in September.

The former Dorsey High School star ended up in Washington for college. He’s returned to Los Angeles twice with the Huskies, playing at UCLA in 2013 and USC in 2015, and still owns an exotic car business in Los Angeles.

OFFENSIVE ADJUSTMENTS

Jacksonville ramped up their attack on Atlanta and saw modest improvement. Meyer just had to expect to use the tempo more often against the Rams. The Jaguars also put Lawrence in zonal play situations, a pattern similar to the one he performed to perfection at Clemson.

“It was very effective for us,” said Meyer. “Again, teams will be better prepared for this. It’s a double-edged sword. You do a lot of zone reads, you better have the add-ons. If you run at a brisk pace, you would. better prepare for some kind of pressure now. “

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