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Rams’ offense stalls out, puts defending NFC champs in tough spot – Los Angeles Rams Blog



PITTSBURGH — Aaron Donald‘s homecoming was spoiled, as the Los Angeles Rams‘ hopes of returning to the playoffs, never mind the Super Bowl, faded quickly into the chilly Pittsburgh night.

The offense faltered, the defense produced two turnovers and scored a touchdown but couldn’t overcome the stubborn Pittsburgh Steelers in a 17-12 loss.

The Rams, who at 5-4 remain in third place in the NFC West, have struggled to find their way in 2019 following a discombobulating loss to the New England Patriots in Super Bowl LIII.

On Sunday, they had extra time coming off a bye week to prepare for the uneven Steelers, who have rallied behind backup quarterback Mason Rudolph. However, preparation didn’t appear to be the issue, as the same inconsistencies the team has suffered throughout the season, mostly on offense, appeared once again.

Entering Sunday, the Rams were 10-0 against teams in the AFC in the regular season since Sean McVay took over as coach in 2017. This loss ended that streak.

Describe the game in two words: Who needs two words when one will do? UGLY. The Rams turned the ball over four times, had 10 penalties for 95 yards and were unable to establish any offensive momentum.

QB Breakdown: Behind an offensive line that struggled to keep the pressure away, Jared Goff struggled to hold onto the ball and connect with receivers. Goff completed 22 of 41 passes for 243 yards, with two interceptions. The Rams were 1 of 14 on third-down conversions. In the second quarter, Goff was sacked and fumbled, as safety Minkah Fitzpatrick recovered and returned the takeaway 43 yards for a touchdown to give the Steelers a 14-7 lead. On the opening series of the second half, after converting on third down for the first in nine tries, Goff threw a pass that was intercepted by Joe Haden.

A game after receiver Cooper Kupp caught seven passes for a career-high 220 yards and a touchdown, the Rams’ go-to slot receiver did not catch a pass despite Goff targeting him four times. The offensive line, which lost center Brian Allen in the first quarter to a knee injury and later right tackle Rob Havenstein, provided their quarterback no favors, as Goff was sacked four times and under duress throughout the game. With the game on the line, Goff was picked off by Fitzpatrick on a deflected pass with 20 seconds left, sealing the Rams’ fate.

Promising trend: The defense forcing takeaways and scoring points. The Rams produced two turnovers and nine points. Outside linebacker Dante Fowler Jr. set the tone on the opening series, when Steelers center Maurkice Pouncey airmailed a bad shotgun snap that Fowler recovered and returned 25 yards for a touchdown to give the Rams a quick 7-0 lead 14 seconds into the game.

Fowler, who is playing on a one-year deal worth up to $12 million, is having a career-best season that includes 6.5 sacks. Later in the first half, cornerback Nickell Robey-Coleman stripped receiver James Washington after a 34-yard catch. Linebacker Cory Littleton recovered the fumble. In the fourth quarter, with the Steelers deep in their own territory, Donald sacked Rudolph for a safety, pulling the Rams to within 14-12. Donald, playing in Pittsburgh for the first time in his six seasons as a pro, finished with a half-sack and three quarterback hits.

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EA delays first look at Madden NFL 2021 to help ‘drive change’ amid protests



EA Sports is postponing a first look at Madden NFL 2021 planned for Monday in light of the protests in Minneapolis and around the country over the death of George Floyd.

“We stand with our African American / Black community of friends, players, colleagues and partners,” EA Sports said in a statement on social media Sunday. “Our immediate attention is on actions we can take to drive change against the unjust treatment and systemic bias that is plaguing the nation and our world.”

Floyd, a black man, died last week in Minneapolis after Derek Chauvin, a white police officer, kneeled on his neck for more than eight minutes.

EA announced last month that Madden NFL 2021 will be released on next-generation video game consoles but gave no more information about the game. Monday’s event was slated to give fans a first look at the latest installment of the iconic franchise.

“We’ll find another time to talk football with you. Because this is bigger than a game, bigger than sports, and needs all of us to stand together and commit to change.”

Baltimore Ravens quarterback Lamar Jackson said in April that he would be on the cover this year, but EA Sports has not made an announcement.

EA also recently agreed to a deal with the NFL to remain the league’s exclusive publisher of football simulation games through 2026.

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Will Ravens’ Ronnie Stanley become the NFL’s highest-paid non-QB? – Baltimore Ravens Blog



Last year at this time, the question surrounding Baltimore Ravens left tackle Ronnie Stanley was whether he would make his first Pro Bowl.

Now it’s legitimate to ask whether Stanley is going to get paid like no other non-quarterback in the NFL.

Stanley’s ascension to the top of his position comes as he enters the final year of his rookie contract and an enviable situation. The left tackle market suddenly became inflated while lacking a core of young and established blockers.

In addressing his contract situation this past week, Stanley said, “I definitely want to get paid my value and what I’m worth.”

Given that he’s a first-team All-Pro, Stanley is expected to surpass Houston’s Laremy Tunsil, who escalated the value for left tackles in April by signing a three-year contract that averages $22 million per season.

Coming off one of the best seasons by a left tackle in recent memory, Stanley could move past Chicago pass-rusher Khalil Mack ($23.5 million per season) and Los Angeles Rams defensive tackle Aaron Donald ($22.5 million) to become the richest non-QB in the league.

In protecting the blind side of NFL MVP Lamar Jackson, Stanley allowed six pressures, the fewest by an offensive tackle in 14 years. He was named Pro Football Focus’ Pass Blocker of the Year.

In opening holes for the NFL’s all-time single-season rushing attack, Stanley helped Baltimore average 7.2 yards per rush on the left side. In the past 15 years, only the 2018 Carolina Panthers gained more yards per carry on the left side (7.4).

Detractors will say no left tackle is worth that money (over half of the NFL’s starting quarterbacks are making less than $22 million per season) and that Stanley’s numbers are more reflective of how teams are reluctant to full-out blitz Jackson. Others feel the Ravens can’t spend on Stanley when three Pro Bowl players (cornerback Marlon Humphrey, tight end Mark Andrews and offensive tackle Orlando Brown Jr.) are scheduled to become free agents after the 2021 season and Jackson will likely be seeking a record-setting deal around that time.

Baltimore can keep Stanley at what amounts to be a bargain price for the next two years. Stanley is making $12.86 million in his fifth-year option this season, and he could receive the franchise tag at around $15 million in 2021.

Ultimately, the Ravens will have to make the tough decision: Give Stanley the biggest average-per-year deal in franchise history or search for his replacement.

Baltimore understands the challenge of finding a long-term answer at left tackle. After Hall of Fame offensive lineman Jonathan Ogden retired in 2007, the Ravens went through seven starting left tackles in eight years: Jared Gaither, Adam Terry, Michael Oher, Bryant McKinnie, Eugene Monroe, James Hurst and Kelechi Osemele.

It wasn’t until the Ravens used the No. 6 overall pick in the 2016 draft on Stanley did they stop the turnstile. He was solid in his first three seasons before his breakout year in 2019, which moved him to the top of a position that lacks a lot of star power.

The days of Ogden, Walter Jones and Joe Thomas are gone. The current top protectors of the blind side are Stanley and Green Bay’s David Bakhtiari.

Dallas’ Tyron Smith and New Orleans’ Terron Armstead can’t stay on the field. San Francisco’s Trent Williams hasn’t played a game since 2018. Indianapolis’ Anthony Castonzo turns 32 before the season.

Tunsil became the highest-paid left tackle because of leverage. The Texans traded two first-round picks and a second-rounder to the Miami Dolphins for Tunsil, and they couldn’t afford to let him walk.

So Tunsil received $4 million more per season than any other offensive tackle in NFL history. How much more will it jump with Stanley?

Last season, Tunsil allowed three sacks and committed a league-high 17 penalties, including 14 false starts. Stanley didn’t give up a sack and was flagged just four times.

To keep Stanley, it certainly looks like the Ravens will have to give him a contract that exceeds the $22 million-per-year deal signed by quarterback Joe Flacco in 2016.

If anyone needed a reminder about how much teams covet offensive tackles, five were taken in the first round in this year’s draft. The Browns, Jets and Dolphins all selected tackles in hopes of protecting young franchise quarterbacks.

The Ravens know the price it’ll take to keep Stanley shielding pass-rushers from Jackson. It’s just unknown whether they’re willing to pay it.

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The NFL’s highest-paid non QB? Might not be who you think



The dearth of quality left tackles comes at an opportune time for Ravens standout Ronnie Stanley, who could break the non-QB bank.

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