Rams set sights on Super Bowl with Miller trade

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SPORTS DIGEST

By Don Wanlass

Contributing Writer

More than 50 years ago, the Rams had a head coach named George Allen, who valued experienced players much more than rookies. 

He was forever trading draft picks for veteran players who were nearing the end of their careers. The veterans rallied around Allen and he won 49 games (and two division titles) with the Rams in five years coaching them.

Allen didn’t get along with the owner, though, and was let go after finishing second in the division with a 9-4-1 record in 1970.

He went on to a successful career with the Washington football team. The Rams current coach, Sean McVay, and general manager Les Snead, appear to be cut from the same cloth.

In a move that shows the Rams intend to host this year’s Super Bowl at SoFi Stadium, the Rams acquired linebacker Von Miller from the Denver Broncos Nov. 1 in exchange for two draft picks in 2022.

This came a week after the Rams unloaded linebacker Kenny Young — to the Broncos.

Young player inside. Miller is an outside linebacker, one of the best edge pass rushers in the NFL. He gives the Rams three of the top defensive players in the league, joining cornerback Jalen Ramsey and defensive tackle Aaron Donald in a trip that will give nightmares to offensive coordinators everywhere.

Eight games into the season, the Rams are the fifth best offensive team in the league in both average yards and points a game. Defensively, it’s another story.

The Rams are 18th in total yards allowed per game and 21st in total points allowed.

At this week’s trade deadline, the Rams decided to bolster that defense by acquiring Miller. Miller was the most valuable player in Super Bowl 50 in 2016. He has played in eight Pro Bowls and has recorded 110 ½ sacks in 10-plus seasons.

He should improve the Rams pass rush, which should automatically help the secondary, which, with the exception of Ramsey, is relatively inexperienced.

He also gives the Rams three dynamic players on defense to go along with the offensive firepower quarterback Matthew Stafford and wide receivers Cooper Kupp and Robert Woods provide.

McVay obviously was happy to add Miller to the roster, calling him “obviously an incredibly unique football player.”

“He’s a complete football player that can really affect and influence an offense in a negative way on all three downs,” McVay said. “You can utilize him in a variety of different ways.”

The Rams are 7-1 and tied with the Arizona Cardinals for first in the NFC Western Division. They face the Tennessee Titans Nov. 7 in this week’s Sunday Night Football matchup on NBC.

It’s not known how much Miller will be able to play this week, but he should be fully integrated to the team’s defensive system by the time the Rams travel to play the Green Bay Packers Nov. 28. It should make for a great stretch Rams in their effort to get back to the Super Bowl.

They can worry about not having many draft picks left next April after the season.

TIES MATTER: With two games left in the season, the Los Angeles Football Club needed to win both games to assure themselves a berth in the Major League Soccer playoffs that begin Nov. 20. 

But LAFC failed to win the first game Nov. 2 against the Vancouver Whitecaps, playing to a 1-1 ties despite outshooting the Whitecaps, 25-5. LAFC can still qualify for the playoffs, but they will need help.

The team currently is tied for eighth in the West Conference (the top seven teams in each conference qualify for the playoffs) with Real Salt Lake with 45 points. Real Salt Lake holds the tiebreaker with one more win (13) than LAFC.

LAFC travels to Denver to play Colorado, the third-place team in the division Nov. 7. 

They may be playing with one eye on the field and the other on the scoreboard since three other games will effect their playoffs hopes.

The Galaxy, currently seventh in the conference, hosts Minnesota United at Dignity Health Sports Park at 3 p.m. Nov. 7. Other games to watch are Seattle at Vancouver and Real Salt Lake at Sporting Kansas City.

If LAFC defeats Colorado, it will need Seattle to defeat Vancouver and Sporting Kansas City to defeat Real Salt Lake and hope Minnesota United beats the Galaxy. 

LAFC has never failed to make the playoffs in its first three years. It would be a step backwards if they fail to qualify this year, even though injuries have had an impact on the season.

The Galaxy only has to win against Minnesota United to advance to the playoffs. 

If they lose, they will need Colorado to beat LAFC and Sporting Kansas City to defeat Real Salt Lake to advance to the playoffs.

LEARNING CURVE: There’s a learning curve to everything, particularly when you are playing quarterback in the National Football League. Chargers second-year quarterback has learned that the hard way in the last three weeks as the Chargers have dropped two games in a row — and looked bad doing it — to the Baltimore Ravens and the New England Patriots.

The Ravens exposed the Chargers in all facets of the game Oct. 17, scoring a 34-6 win sending the Chargers into their bye week.

After an extra week to lick their wounds, the Chargers were expected to come out and defeat the Patriots at SoFi Stadium Oct. 31. Instead, the Patriots’s young quarter Mac Jones led a late drive to the winning field goal and the Patriots defeated the Chargers 27-24.

Jones and Justin Herbert had almost identical stats. Both completed 18 of 35 passes. Jones gained 218 yards through the air and Herbert gained 223. Herbert through for two touchdowns — Jones had zero — but he also threw two interceptions. Former Chargers Adrian Phillips intercepted Herbert both times and he took the last one back 25 yards for a touchdown to give the Patriots a 24-17 lead with 10 minutes to go in the game.

Herbert rallied the Chargers to the tying score, but the Chargers defense couldn’t stop the rookie quarterback, who methodically drove his team into field goal territory for the win.

After jumping off to a 4-1 start, the Chargers now find themselves looking up at the Las Vegas Raiders in the AFC West with a game against the Philadelphia Eagles coming up Nov. 7. 

The Chargers made news this week by announcing they plan to build a headquarters complex for the team in El Segundo.

On the field, they need Herbert to regain his form. With the Kansas City Chiefs currently in a worse slump than the Chargers, it’s way too early for the Chargers to panic.

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