What a great time to be a Southern California sports fan! Despite the dislocations and tragedies brought on by the coronavirus, for those of us who try to gain some escape from malicious microbes and petty politicians, there’s a lot to cheer about.
The Los Angeles Rams are looking impressive. Off to a 2-0 start, the boys from SoFi Stadium up the 405 Freeway appear to be more like the 2018 team that went to the Super Bowl than the 2019 squad that couldn’t make the playoffs.
Jared Goff is playing like the franchise quarterback the team hoped he would be, combining precision passing with good decisions. So far, he’s completed almost 70 percent of his passes, and gained 542 yards through the air, hitting for three TDs and getting intercepted just once.
With Todd Gurley gone, the Rams have gone to a running back-by-committee model, and that’s paying off, too. Malcolm Brown is first among equals, rushing for 63 yards per game and game and two touchdowns. Perhaps more important is that he is their go-to-guy on first downs gained, doing it 11 times and having no fumbles
Aaron Donald may be the big name on the Rams’ defense, but unheralded linebacker Micah Kiser has 17 solo tackles and five assisted tackles, among the best in the NFL.
The only obvious weak spot in the Rams’ roster is placekicker Sam Sloman. So far, he’s missed a short field goal try and an extra point. His longest FG is but 35 yards. We miss Greg Zuerlein, who was lost to the Dallas Cowboys.
Now, even though the Los Angeles Chargers lost a close one 23-20 in overtime to the Kansas City Chiefs at home, there was plenty to be happy about. Not only did the Bolts come within a hair of knocking off the Super Bowl champs, they perhaps discovered a new starting quarterback in Justin Hebert.
Playing in place of the injured Tyrod Taylor, the Oregon grad threw for 311 yards and one touchdown in Sunday’s loss. He also ran for 18 yards and a score.
Taylor may be back against the Carolina Panthers this weekend, but if not, Hebert definitely looks ready for a successful NFL career.
While praising local teams, we cannot forget the Los Angeles Lakers’ charge toward the NBA Finals. On Sunday, Anthony Davis hit a three-pointer as time ran out to lift LA to a 105-103 win over the Denver Nuggets. That gives the Lakers a 2-0 lead in the Western Conference finals and halfway to the Big Dance.
The Clippers were no slouches, either, losing to Denver 4-3 in the Western Conference semi-finals to conclude a really good season with disappointing finish.
As for baseball, well, who can say the Los Angeles Dodgers are not the best team in Major League Baseball? Alas, who can say that the Los Angeles Angels are not the biggest letdown, if not in the whole MLB, but in the Southern California where winning is becoming habit-forming?
“Wild World of Sport” is posted on Mondays.