Bears try to si­lence Rams’ of­fense again

Antelope Valley Press (Sunday) - - Sports - By GREG BEACHAM

LOS AN­GE­LES — Even Sean McVay re­al­izes there’s a strong ar­gu­ment to be made that the Chicago Bears ended the Los An­ge­les Rams’ two sea­sons of of­fen­sive bril­liance with their 15-6 vic­tory at Sol­dier Field last sea­son.

McVay, Jared Goff and the Rams (5-4) get a chance to re­ply when the Bears (4-5) visit the Coli­seum on Sun­day night in a game that could wreck the loser’s re­al­is­tic play­off hopes.

That loss on a chilly, bit­ing night last De­cem­ber still stings for McVay and Goff, who threw a ca­reer-high four in­ter­cep­tions while the Rams were held with­out a touch­down for the first time in McVay’s ten­ure.

“They were a great de­fense, pe­riod,” McVay said. “They still are a great de­fense, but they did do some dif­fer­ent things schemat­i­cally that — I don’t run away from the fact that I didn’t han­dle that night well at all.”

Los An­ge­les was 11-1 and cruis­ing through a sea­son that would bend with a Su­per Bowl trip, but Vic Fan­gio’s de­fense re­duced McVay’s of­fense to a wan shadow of its usual self. Todd Gur­ley pro­duced only 28 yards rush­ing, Goff went 20 of 44 for 180 yards, and the Rams man­aged only 214 yards — less than half of their sea­son av­er­age.

Fan­gio largely did it with a de­cep­tively sim­ple 6-1 align­ment: Six de­fend­ers right at the line of scrim­mage, with one line­backer just be­hind them look­ing to snuff out the run game. When Gur­ley couldn’t move the ball on the ground against that setup, the Rams’ play-ac­tion strate­gies were largely use­less — and then Goff made mis­takes.

“All of these teams, at some point, you hit some patches where you have to fig­ure some things out and re-ad­just and all that,” Bears coach Matt Nagy said of the Rams’ strug­gles in Chicago last sea­son. “We’re go­ing through that right now of­fen­sively.”

Other teams copied the Bears’ strat­egy, and New Eng­land played its ver­sion to per­fec­tion while hold­ing the Rams to three points in the Su­per Bowl. But with Gur­ley still largely in­ef­fec­tive this sea­son, op­po­nents haven’t even needed the strat­egy to beat the Rams lately.

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