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McVay, Rams Confront ‘Belichick Test’

December 10th, 2020 · No Comments · Los Angeles Rams, NFL, Rams

How good are these Los Angeles Rams?

Check back at about 8:30 (PST) tonight.

By then, we should have the results of the Rams versus the New England Patriots in the NFL’s Thursday night game.

This is a big game for both teams. The Rams are 8-4, atop the NFC West, and are pursuing a third playoffs berth in Sean McVay’s fourth season as their coach.

Which, however, is a very slim resume when compared to the Patriots of Bill Belichick.

Belichick’s Patriots have played in nine Super Bowls since 2001, and won six of them, including twice over the Rams — beating the St. Louis Rams of Mike Martz 20-17 in 2001 and, oops, the Los Angeles Rams of Sean McVay 13-3 two years ago in perhaps the ugliest Super Bowl every played. Especially if you watched it from the perspective of the Rams, who were absolutely throttled. Smothered. To the tune of four Jared Goff sacks, eight Johnny Hekker punts — and zero touchdowns, a Super Bowl record for futility.

Sean McVay 34, is a bright guy, but he still is a kid, by NFL coaching standings. If he wants the football world to take him seriously, and for his team to reach the postseason, the Rams need to beat Belichick and the Patriots.

As has happened several times during their two decades of dominance, the Patriots are rebuilding. Not that they rebuild so much as reload.

Quarterback Tom Brady left the team, and Belichick got busy.

He brought in Cam Newton to play quarterback, and after a rough, 2-5 start, the Patriots have won four of their past five to stand 6-6 and in position to extend their NFL record to 12 consecutive seasons in the playoffs. They seem to be picking up momentum. The Chargers could tell you about it — they were 45-0 losers to the Pats at SoFi Stadium four days ago. Belichick doing what he does.

These Rams have a decent record, but they have been erratic, and they do not have a really impressive victory this year.

The Rams-Patriots game tonight might be the most important in McVay’s career, to date. Certainly the most significant since 13-3.

Can he beat a coach who is three decades older and wiser?

Can he keep Belichick’s team from taking away what the Rams do best — which is the Patriots’ modus operandi.

In this case, can the Patriots get to Jared Goff, a guy who does not handle pressure well? Can the Patriots neutralize Goff’s favorite receivers, Cooper Kupp and Richard Woods?

Can this edition of the Patriots, which prefers the running game, especially now that they have Newton at QB, keep the Rams offense off the field?

And can the Rams not be overwhelmed on special teams? New England had a kickoff return for touchdown and a TD from a blocked field goal, in the victory over the Chargers. The Rams’ special teams have been erratic.

This game could be a turning point for both clubs. Can the Rams stand up to the Patriots this time? Is it business as usual for the Patriots after that rocky start?

Beating Belichick and a Belichick team … is a big deal. McVay needs to do so, however, if he wants to be considered an elite coach of an elite team.


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