The Chargers are at home for the final time in the regular season on Sunday.
The Bolts and Rams will meet at SoFi Stadium. Kickoff is at 1:25 p.m. (PT).
We chatted with Jourdan Rodrigue, who covers the Rams for The Athletic, to get a preview of the game.
The Rams won't be in the playoffs a year after winning it all. are injuries the biggest culprit over there? Or did something else go wrong?
JR: Injuries have definitely been the biggest issue for the Rams in 2022, especially because so many of them happened immediately and then consistently through the first half of the season and also because many of the early injuries were so concentrated to one crucial position group: The offensive line. The Rams started a different offensive line combination in 12 of their first 13 games, and through that period went into a three, four and five-deep at every spot except for right tackle. Sean McVay deploys a timing and progression-based offense and there was zero chance, once players started getting hurt, that it was going to be successful in light of so much concentration of injury. I think overall, the truncated offseason (not that they're complaining about why it was so short) was also a factor in the durability of the team, the shuffling of the coaching staff and general preparation for 2023.
Baker Mayfield has had quite the whirlwind of late. What kind of impression has he made on the organization in the last few weeks?
JR: When the Rams claimed Mayfield off of waivers, and he led a whirlwind and improbable comeback win over Las Vegas in Week 14, they knew that it was an outlier. What they are searching for with Mayfield is the mean, or what he most consistently is like when he prepares for a game, practices and then plays. I think they have been impressed with how he has put his head down and worked really hard to balance learning the playbook and game-planning each week, two separate tasks that he has to do simultaneously. It's clear that they believe he is capable of getting a shot as a starter somewhere else in 2023.
Who is a young player on defense who could be a building block going forward?
JR: Cornerback Cobie Durant has really impressed this staff even in limited opportunities, with other veterans in starting roles in the secondary. He has earned more playing time in recent weeks and can play inside and outside, and has a knack for making plays on the ball (three interceptions, including two in Week 16 and one of them went for six). He's a rookie who will be a key part of their secondary in the coming seasons.
You covered Brandon Staley with the Rams in 2020. What's your view on the success he's had with the Bolts, which now includes a playoff berth.
JR: Could not be more stoked for Brandon, who I think is a heck of a coach and person. I watched the key shift - like a lightbulb flipping on for both players and coaches - when his vision (in 2020 for the Rams' defense) took on the intended life, and over the last month especially I have seen that in the Chargers' own defense even as they've battled injuries and tough circumstances. As I watched with the Rams last season, it's the right time of year for that lightbulb.
Take a look at the best photos from previous matchups against the Los Angeles Rams.
Finally, what do you think this offseason brings for the Rams? Will they keep it status quo or are changes on the way?
JR: If I know one thing about this group, they're not fans of standing still. I believe I'm in for quite a ride this offseason, because I do think this group of executives and coaches believes it can contend under the right (self-induced) circumstances.
Bolt Up for 2022!
Secure your 2022 Season Ticket Memberships today! Click here to learn more.