It's Groundhog Day in Los Angeles, and like Phil Connors, Sean McVay is tired of waking up every Monday morning knowing his offense is a putrid mess.
The Rams couldn't generate first downs or score enough points in Sunday's 16-13 loss to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. It marked the seventh time in eight games this season the Rams have been held to 24 points or fewer and the fifth time they couldn't even put 15 points on the board.
The fourth quarter was painful to watch as Matthew Stafford and the Rams, nursing a lead, went three-and-out on three straight possessions to allow Tom Brady and the Bucs a chance to get back into the contest. L.A. put up just 206 total yards of offense, a third of which came on one 69-yard TD pass to Cooper Kupp.
McVay knows his 3-5 club can't continue to bang its head against the wall.
"I don't necessarily think that it's the panic button, but changes have to be made, adjustments have to be made, we can't continue to go on like this and what that looks like, I don't necessarily have the exact answers right now," McVay said after the latest loss, via team transcripts. "What I don't want to have anything to be misunderstood that I'm not in this with those guys, I'm a big part of this, I have to do better. We're going to stay connected throughout this but we do have to be able to look inward and figure out what are some of the solutions, changes, adjustments, different things that we have to do to be able to get different results and different production from our offense."
The offensive line is a mess, with guard Bobby Evans the biggest culprit Sunday, playing matador to the Bucs' interior rushers. None of the Rams' backs can consistently break tackles. Darrell Henderson had two runs of 10-plus yards on Sunday, and his 23-yarder was the longest by any Rams back all season. Stafford has been scattershot and has zero rapport with any receiver outside of Kupp.
The most significant voice coming from the Rams locker room after the loss was corner Jalen Ramsey, who was clearly frustrated that the offense couldn't do its part to secure a win after the defense got off the field time and time again against Brady. Facing TB12 for 79 plays, the D finally broke late in the fourth quarter.
"The defense should not have had to go back on the field. Simple," Ramsey said bluntly. "Gotta have some dogs who are gonna go get it. We shouldn't come to the sideline after a big stop like that and our coaches or the other side or whoever telling us, 'We gonna to need y'all one more time. We gonna to need y'all one more time.' Like what the f---? We just made a big stop, turnover on downs, with a minute and some change left and no timeouts for nobody.
"Gotta have some dogs who are like, man, f--- all that, we are going to end this game right now. Good stop. We are going to end the game for y'all. We gotta play off each other in that sense. You know what I mean? That's what I mean by we should not have had to go out there. It is what it is. It ain't the first time that this has happened. This has happened multiple times this year, really. S---."
Ramsey is right. The defense wasn't to blame for the loss, even with some soft coverage on the final drive. They held up their end of the bargain, keeping Brady out of the end zone for the first 59:51 of the contest.
The offense's inability to generate any semblance of balance or consistency has put the defense in a position to need perfection to win. The Rams have been outscored 71-10 in the fourth quarter in 2022. The -61 point differential in the final frame is the worst in NFL.
The offense keeps going three-and-out, asking the defense to bail them out.
Now it's on McVay to figure out what changes need to be made in a hurry.
"I think everything has got to be up for debate, you have to be able to look at it but the one thing is, is that as coaches we're responsible for identifying the problems and try to provide solutions and then the players' job to go execute and be able to get it done," McVay said when asked what changes need to be made. "I have to be able to do my part first and foremost for them to be able to do theirs and that's where you always look at, you want to look inward first.
"What that looks like, [we'll] try to continue to put our heads together with these coaches, figure out how to best maximize the players that we do have and put them in better spots. There were some opportunities that we had but overall, the expectations, the standards that we have as a staff and I know that I have for these players, I have to be better, we have to be better. I think we can be, and then I think the players can execute better as well."
Long considered a genius, McVay will need to concoct a plan that puts his offensive players in a better position to succeed, because what they've been doing for eight games isn't working.