HowBoutThem.com sat down for a conversation with Darren Cooper, lead writer at MyLaSports.com, to discuss the upcoming Dallas Cowboys–Los Angeles Rams game.
There was some trash talk, we figured out why Matthew Stafford has been playing poorly and chili recipes were exchanged.
Here’s how it went:
Checking the vibes surrounding the Rams slow start
Matt Boecker: Hey Darren, what’s the vibe like out in LA? Is there hope the Rams can figure things out?
Darren Cooper: I think there are a lot of questions. Why isn’t the defense playing super? What happened to Jalen Ramsey? He’s been a liability in pass coverage.
What happened to the running game? Cam Akers looks slow. The offensive line has been beat up. Stafford and Cooper Kupp are about the only thing clicking.
However, I had a feeling coming into this year this is exactly where the Rams would be.
I didn’t think they’d beat Buffalo. And I thought San Francisco on Monday night in Santa Clara was a death match. I had the Rams 2-2 at this very point, looking to get right against the Cowboys.
But what I want to know is, are the Cowboys any good?
Matt: The Cowboys are very good, certainly playoff contenders. If you asked me that question after Week 1, I would’ve been singing a different tune.
I don’t even think Cooper Rush could’ve predicted Dallas would be 3-1 going into this Rams game.
But he’s been serviceable. Not spectacular, not QB1 material (don’t even get me started on the people who think there’s a real QB controversy). The defense has kept the Cowboys in all three wins this season.
Darren: He’s not QB1. He has been serviceable, maybe better than serviceable. I don’t buy Dak Prescott playing this week either, you?
Matt: No, the team said at the start of the week they want to see a full week of practice from Dak before he takes the field on Sunday. That hasn’t happened, so we’ll be treated to at least one more game from the new Red Rifle.
What’s the deal with Matthew Stafford?
Matt: Let’s talk about your QB for a minute. Stafford leads the NFL with six interceptions, what’s been up with him?
Darren: A couple of things jump to mind.
The offensive line has been messed up. Replacing Andrew Whitworth was never going to be easy. They drafted Logan Bruss in the third round, and if nothing else, maybe he’s depth or a sixth man. He tore his ACL in the preseason. The center gets hurt, more shuffling around. Then he gets hurt again Monday night. So Stafford has felt a lot of pressure at this point.
But he’s had no one to throw to other than Kupp, and maybe Tyler Higbee. Allen Robinson II has not performed well yet. Ben Skowronek is playing fullback. Kupp had 19 targets on Monday night. 19! He still had 14 catches.
So I think the picks are all because of those reasons.
I’m shocked though that the Cowboys are 3-1. What kind of offensive production are they getting?
Matt: Not very high production from the Cowboys offense. They’re actually one of the lowest-scoring offenses in the league.
But one thing the offense has excelled at is avoiding turnovers. Rush has thrown 102 passes this season and 0 interceptions. While the offense isn’t the most explosive, they don’t make costly mistakes that can lose ball games.
The real reason for Dallas’ success is the defense. They’re a joy to watch. The defensive line gets after the QB, Trevon Diggs is having a phenomenal year and has cut down on the huge yardage he gave up last season. All around, a strong unit.
Who is to blame for the Rams slow start?
Matt: Speaking of defenses, it seems like the offense has gotten all the blame for the Rams woes. Should any of that blame go to the defense?
You gotta look at the big man making the big money and Aaron Donald hasn’t been up to his old tricks yet. Let me explain.
Sure, he’s dominating at times and a crusher at times. But we haven’t seen him make those game-ending, game-changing plays we’re used to.
Bobby Wagner hits protesters pretty hard, but he hasn’t made any big plays either. You know, I always wonder when a team lets someone go, they know why. Maybe the Seahawks knew about Wagner, maybe he was short a step.
The defense was run through by Buffalo, held on to beat Atlanta (yuck) dominated Arizona (but they always do that) and couldn’t make a tackle against San Fran.
But listen: The Rams are stuck in the same situation other Super Bowl teams are. (hey, Dallas, remember Super Bowls?) You don’t change up the roster that much, why would you? You won the Super Bowl.
But your team is a year older, everyone is gunning for you and wants to give you their best shot. Older players get hurt more. The Rams are still fine. But this is a big game for them Sunday.
Will the Rams resign Odell Beckham Jr.?
Matt: Speaking of roster changes…
Darren: Yes, I thought you said back in preseason that you couldn’t believe Jerry hadn’t made more moves…
Matt: Was that before or after you apologized to me after Week 1 because you thought the Cowboys season was over?
Jerry is certainly grinning at the thought of myself and every other Cowboys fan and media member eating crow because of the criticism we gave him for making no offseason moves. But I must say, this crow is delicious.
But I have to ask about Odell Beckham Jr. Are Rams fans praying he signs with them soon? I know he was making the rounds like a 5-star college recruit earlier this year.
Darren: If I’m Odell, geez….doesn’t my price go up with every passing week?
That said, I do think he ends up back with the Rams. People forget, the NFL season is 17 games now. The Cowboys are 3-1. The Rams are 2-2. There are still 13 games left.
The Rams could win 10 more games (in fact, I think they just might, because the schedule gets a little easier now). The Cowboys could lose 10 more games (not saying they will).
Odell could give the offense the downfield attack they need, the guy defenses have to account for to go deep on every play. The Rams are going to want him, but so will other teams.
Does he wanna go back to the Giants? They’re 3-1, too. Does he want to go to Philadelphia and make a three-headed beast out there at their WR spot? Kansas City? He’s like that mid-season rental in baseball that teams think can put you over the top.
But he won a ’chip with the Rams, and I think they will be his first choice. The Rams will have to pay him though.
Matt: I hadn’t thought of the possibility of Odell going to the Eagles. I really hope that doesn’t happen!
Darren: If you’re Odell, you want a ring, right? That has to be his main motivation.
Cowboys vs. Rams score predictions
Darren: Break down for me how the Cowboys win Sunday.
Matt: Here’s how the game will go if the Cowboys get the win:
The Cowboys are breathing down Stafford’s neck the entire game. Micah Parsons gets back in the sack column and the defense forces a turnover or two from Stafford.
For the offense, just stay the course. No need for Rush to extend himself, just make the easy plays and don’t force things. Avoid costly turnovers and make the Rams go the full length of the field when they get the ball on offense. No interceptions or fumbles that give the Rams a short field to work with.
I think Dallas leaves with a win, 17-13.
How do you see the game playing out if LA gets the W?
Darren: I think it’s roughly the same recipe. Donald pushes the pocket back in Rush’s face, not allowing him to get comfortable and he throws his first couple of interceptions. Kupp vs. Diggs is a great matchup, but right now, you just can’t keep Kupp down.
The Rams running game shows a little life, not much. Heck, even 100 yards as a team would reason for joy. And I think the Rams do play better at home, even if the crowd is going to be maybe 50-50 Cowboy fans.
This was the game where I thought the Rams would start to turn it around. They’re kind’ve right where I thought they’d be.
Matt: What do you predict the score will be?
Darren: Maybe 27-21 Rams? What’s the point spread?
Matt: Cowboys are +5.5, which I think is a little too wide of a margin.
Darren: Maybe. I’m still not really buying the Cowboys just yet.
I like the Bengals win, but the Giants and the Washington Whatevers aren’t good teams right now.
Hey, you can only play who you play and 3-1 beats 1-3.
Matt: I think the Giants are a better team than people give them credit for. Saquon Barkley has looked like his old self again.
Mild chili or spicy chili?
Darren: I know I’ll be watching…you? Any plans?
Matt: I’ll be cooking a big pot of chili before the Cowboys kickoff at 3:25. I love when my team plays in the late window. It gives you some extra time to enjoy the noon slate.
Darren: Oh yes, the “witching hour” between 3:30 and 4:30 EST when the noon games are finishing and the late games are starting is the best hour of the day.
Are you a hot chili man? Or mild? I have a great recipe, secret ingredient is cumin seeds.
Matt: I’ll have to write that down. I definitely prefer a more spicy chili. I’m from Chicago so we need the extra heat to get us through to brisk fall days.
Darren: You have a good day! Maybe we will have Super Bowl tickets after all?
Matt: I sure hope so. I have Austin Ekeler in fantasy so I’m hoping he keeps crushing it like he did last Sunday.
Best of luck this week, but not too much luck. Hopefully both teams avoid injuries before Dallas leaves the west coast with a win.