Through the first two weeks of the 2016 season, the Los Angeles Rams are the only team in the NFL that has yet to score a single offensive touchdown.
It has become a pressing topic of discussion around the Rams, especially after their offense has only put up three total scoring drives that have all resulted in field goals in the first two games.
“Well it’s concerning, that’s our job, so I’d be ignorant to say otherwise," Rams' offensive coordinator Rob Boras said. "Again, we see it; the guys are going to trust the process that we’re going. Obviously, the more plays that we have, that means converting on third down and, in the first game, eliminating turnovers. The more plays that we have, the more opportunities we’re going to have to score points. This week is a new challenge with Tampa Bay and the guys have accepted it, they recognize that we’ve fallen short. We’re going to see what happens.”
Following a forgettable performance in the season opener against the San Francisco 49ers with just 185 total offensive yards, Los Angeles showed improvement against the Seattle Seahawks. Starter Case Keenum played with more confidence continually testing the Seahawks' elite secondary with throws down the field connecting on a few big plays and may have had several more if not for a couple dropped passes.
“I thought it was a really good step for him. Again, the ability to push the ball down the field, our completion percentage will get higher – there were some that we all saw – probably three or four others that we complete right there and we love our completion percentage," Boras said. "It’s for all of us, not just the quarterback, not just Todd, just for all of us coaches and players, just keep going in that direction and keep working."
The offense has taken some strides in the right direction, but the Rams have fallen short when it comes to getting the ball into the end zone. This is something that Keenum feels his team can easily correct but cutting down on their mistakes in the red zone.
“Negative plays in the red zone, whether its penalties, negative runs, sacks, those are all really big mistakes that you can’t make," Keenum said. "You have to have a really good play to make up for those. We’ve got to get better at that, we got to get better at red zone, explosive plays, and then stringing together those plays. We had some good plays, but we couldn’t string enough together to put a drive in the end zone.”
Los Angeles will have more offensive firepower to get that done this week against the Buccaneers with the expected return of a pair of rookie wideouts in Pharoh Cooper and Nelson Spruce. Cooper has been sidelined with a shoulder injury that he suffered in Week 3 of the preseason after making an acrobatic catch. Spruce has been dealing with a knee injury since the first preseason game but has seen his workout workload steadily increase over the last few weeks.
Although he played in limited action in the preseason, Cooper has already established himself as the third wide receiver on the depth chart behind Kenny Britt and Tavon Austin. Meanwhile, Spruce displayed plenty in the one preseason game that he played recording six receptions for 51 yards and a touchdown. Their return will be a welcoming sight for the Rams' offense that relies heavily on short-to-intermediate passes to move the ball down the field.
“Obviously those are two young guys that were having a bunch of success through training camp and the preseason while they were able to play. It’s just adding two more weapons to the offense," Boras said. "It’s going to take them awhile to get their legs underneath them. But I think those are two guys that both through college and then the limited exposure that we’ve had with them can produce for us. The more weapons you have, now instead of having a four wide receiver rotation, you get maybe some fresher legs and some other guys playing. It’s exciting to see those guys back out there.”
The Buccaneers are coming off a disappointing loss where the Arizona Cardinals torched them for more than 400 offensive yards and six scoring drives, including four resulting in touchdowns. Despite that, Boras isn't overlooking Tampa Bay's defense under new defensive coordinator Mike Smith.
"He’s going to put his players in good position. They’re a talented group on defense," Boras said. "I’ve always thought the world of Coach Smith and what he does. The two regular season games, you see it there with what they’ve done and then those four preseason (games). There is obviously a lot of wrinkles that he still has that he hasn’t shown yet – that’s part of why we just have to believe in what we’re doing – our rules and our process.”