Jared Goff and the Los Angeles Rams take on the Los Angeles Chargers on Sunday. Photo by Terry Schmitt/UPI | License Photo
The Los Angeles Rams took care of business over the first two weeks of the season, and while the extent of their blowout wins over the Raiders and Cardinals cannot be understated, the quality of opponent cannot be overstated.
The Rams did what they were supposed to do, bottom line.
But now things get really serious.
The Chargers make the sort trip from Carson to Los Angeles Sunday to play the Rams at the Coliseum, and this is much more than a quasi Fight For L.A. showdown.
The Rams are facing their first highly skilled opponent capable of providing multiple challenges on both sides of the ball.
And they have the Rams attention.
"They flip the tape on, they see what is real, and what's real is this is a very good football team we're playing," said Rams head coach Sean McVay. "When you look at the Chargers, in all three phases, they present a variety of challenges. They got great players. They're very well coached. So I don't think we need to look any further for motivation that we've got to be at our very best if we're going to compete with these guys. Starting right now."
The Rams are not looking back at all.
"Because we've got the right guys in that locker room with the right mindset and mentality," McVay said. "What we did last week doesn't do anything for us this week. And we've got a great challenge ahead of us."
Offensively, the Chargers have the talent to put pressure on the Rams. They average 29.5 points per game and are third overall in total yards. Philip Rivers is the best quarterback they've played to date, and with Melvin Gordon at running back and talented wide receivers like Mike Williams and Keenan Allen to throw to, there are weapons all over the field.
And while the Rams have given up just 13 points through three games - and not surrendered a point since the first half of the season opener - it's unrealistic to think they can sustain that against a quality offense like the Chargers.
As a result, it's on quarterback Jared Goff and the offense to handle their responsibilities. Goff has been outstanding after a slow start in the first half against the Raiders, and really put it together Sunday against the Cardinals while spreading the ball among seven different targets for 354 yards. In particular, he found Brandin Cooks for 159 yards on nine completions. It's a combination worth monitoring moving forward.
"Yeah, we've been connecting on a lot of the stuff during practice," Goff said. "Today, you kind of felt that rhythm start to happen. Some of those deep things, some of the other stuff across the field where he's able to make those plays with his speed and just how good he is with his hands. He did a great job today. I felt really comfortable with him, as well as all the other receivers though." As Goff showed, part of his strength is moving the ball around. It helps, he said, that he's working with such talented receivers in Cooks, Robert Woods and Cooper Kupp.
"I think all three of them, like I always say, they complement each other so well," Goff said. "Sometimes one guy like Brandin (on Sunday), went for 150 and Cooper went for 60 and Robert went for 80 and then it can flip in the next game. I just think they complement each other so well." Against the Chargers, they'll need to do that and more.
SERIES HISTORY: 12th regular-season meeting. Rams lead series, 6-5. In their last meeting - in 2014 - the Chargers intercepted Shaun Hill in the end zone in the closing minute to preserve a 27-24 victory.