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    Rams look to put it all together against the Cardinals
    • October 14, 2023

    THOUSAND OAKS — In Week 2, the Rams’ offense had enough firepower, but the defense couldn’t get the requisite stops to win. In Week 3, the defense stymied Cincinnati, but the offense couldn’t convert on third down. In Weeks 4 and 5, the offense disappeared in the second half after strong starts to the game.

    After a Week 1 in which they beat the Seahawks in every facet of the game, the Rams have yet to put together a complete performance again. And it’s cost them, going 1-3 across the past four weeks, only a throwback Matthew Stafford overtime drive getting the Rams back in the win column.

    “I think guys are playing good football. I think we still haven’t put it all together,” defensive tackle Aaron Donald said. “I think once we do that, we’re going to be the team that we want to be. I think we got the talent here. I think we got the coaches. We just got to go out there, execute it and do it.”

    The Rams (2-3) will try to put together that perfect game Sunday against the Arizona Cardinals (1-4), with a few key corrections to make.

    On the defensive side of the ball, tackling was an issue last week against the Eagles. The Rams missed several key tackles on third downs that allowed Philadelphia to keep the ball moving on critical drives.

    Though the Rams can’t take their own teammates to the ground in practice, Donald and defensive coordinator Raheem Morris said tackling was a point of emphasis this week, getting some thuds in at practice and discussing the issue in meeting rooms.

    On top of that, the Rams are trying to eliminate the mistakes that allowed the 49ers and Eagles to put together quick drives to take the lead before halftime in each of the Rams’ previous two home games.

    “I was mad about that. That lingered on me until about Monday night, honestly,” Donald said. “We gave up some plays and with some penalties that hurt us and some things that we could’ve done better. We got to try to eliminate that type of stuff, but we can’t have that as a defense. That’s not us, that can’t be acceptable. That just doesn’t sit well with me.”

    As for the offense, consistency will also be key.

    The Rams scored two touchdowns in three possessions in the first half against the Eagles last week. But Philadelphia pitched a second-half shutout. Across the past four weeks, the Rams are averaging 4.75 points in the second half.

    And when the Rams have fallen into two-possession holes, the hurry-up offense that’s been such a big part of the team’s success hasn’t been able to sustain scoring drives.

    “The execution is just a little bit off,” offensive coordinator Mike LaFleur said. “We got to be better as coaches and make sure that the guys know exactly what we’re asking from them in those situations. It’s so close in so many circumstances.”

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    It’s still early in the season, with the Rams’ hopes of a playoff bid still alive. And the mistakes aren’t a matter of lack of talent, but execution. That’s why the Rams remain encouraged, though they know they can’t afford many more of these kinds of mistakes.

    “Definitely in the NFL, you make two mistakes, you give up too many big plays, you tend to be the team to lose the game,” Donald said. “I think we got the talent here. I think we got the coaches. We just got to go out there, execute it and do it.”

    CARDINALS (1-4) at RAMS (2-3)

    When: 1:25 p.m. Sunday

    Where: SoFi Stadium

    TV/Radio: FOX (Ch. 11)/710 AM; 93.1 FM; 1330 AM (Spanish); Sirius 386, 227

    ​ Orange County Register