Are the defending Super Bowl champion Los Angeles Rams in trouble?

Will the real Los Angeles Rams please stand up.

Through four games this season, the defending Super Bowl champs have looked far from what many expected, now sitting at 2-2 following a deflating 24-9 loss to the San Francisco 49ers on Monday night.

Matthew Stafford and the offense failed to find the end zone against a 49ers team that was coming off an uninspiring 11-10 loss to the Broncos the previous week. Meanwhile, on the defensive side of the ball, the Rams did not generate a single sack, after totaling seven in the first three weeks of the season.

Why is this team underperforming through the first month of the campaign?

Colin Cowherd, host of “The Herd,” contended on Tuesday that the losses of linebacker Von Miller and left tackle Andrew Whitworth are crippling the Rams up front, on both sides of the ball.

“Von Miller leaves, and Andrew Whitworth retires. They lose their best pass rusher and their best pass protector, and statistically, the Rams have the worst sack differential in the league — four games after winning the Super Bowl,” Cowherd said. “Harassing Burrow, Brady, Garoppolo, the NFL last year. Two players, one retires, one leaves for a better contract. … They have the worst sack differential in the league. 

“And because of one Van Jefferson injury, and a free agent move that hasn’t worked yet (Allen Robinson), they have one wide receiver (Cooper Kupp).”

Rams struggles continue with a 24-9 loss to 49ers on MNF

Colin Cowherd breaks down the Rams’ struggles in a post-Super Bowl season.

Cowherd views the Rams’ struggles as inauspicious when considering the strengths of other playoff-caliber teams in the NFC.

“In the NFC, the Eagles’ defensive front is great. Tampa’s defensive front is great. Niners defensive front, great. Seattle’s now getting after it. Green Bay gets after it. Look at all these teams in the NFC — a lot of good pass rushes. Rams can’t protect the quarterback, and Matt Stafford’s not a real mover. 

“We’re four weeks into the new season, and you look at the Rams, and you’re like, ‘This team’s not a Super Bowl team.’ … They can’t protect their quarterback. They can’t get to the quarterback, and they have a one-wide receiver receiving core.”

The Rams currently rank 25th in offensive EPA (expected points added), 23rd in defensive EPA and 30th in overall EPA. They’re 26th in offensive DVOA (defense-adjusted value over average), 18th in defensive DVOA, 26th in overall DVOA and 27th in point differential per game (negative 6.0). 

The Rams’ offense also ranks 28th in yards (294.0) and 29th in points (17.5) per game.

Following a brilliant showing in his first season in Los Angeles, Stafford has struggled mightily through four games this year. He has totaled 1,015 passing yards, four passing touchdowns, six interceptions and sports an 81.4 quarterback rating, while completing 70.7% of his passes. Meanwhile, Kupp has accounted for 42 of the team’s 106 receptions and 54 of the team’s 149 passing targets.

Jefferson, who hasn’t played this season due to a knee injury, totaled 802 receiving yards, 50 receptions and six receiving touchdowns for the Rams last season. Robinson, who signed a three-year, $46.5 million deal with the Rams in the offseason, has totaled just 95 receiving yards, nine receptions and one receiving touchdown this season.

The defending Super Bowl champs will have plenty of chances to right the ship over the next couple of weeks, as four of the Rams’ next five games are against opponents with a record of .500 or better. That challenging slate begins on Sunday with a game against the Dallas Cowboys (3-1).

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