Rams, Chargers open with style

FANS AT SO-FI loved the Rams’ 2021 debut on Sunday (LA Rams/Brevin Townsell).

It was a good weekend for area pro football fans and a mixed week for some others.

Matthew Stafford lived up to expectations as he passed for 321 yards and three touchdowns as the Rams defeated the Chicago Bears 34-14 at SoFi Stadium.

He also had a nice, succinct interview style. “It was awesome,” he said. “It was a complete team win.”

A lot of truth to that, although much credit also belongs to receivers Cooper Kupp and Van Jefferson, and the defense that limited the visitors to modest gains.

Fans in the stadium – over 70,000 of them – and those watching on TV were treated to a more wide-open style of play from the Rams, which started with a 67-yard strike to Jefferson on the Rams’ second play of the game.

Coach Sean McVay was pleased as well with Stafford’s performance and poise. “It’s hard to say there was one thing,” said McVay. “I loved everything that he did tonight.”

He’ll get another opportunity to impress the heck out of everybody on Sunday when the Rams travel to Indianapolis to face the Colts.

THE Los Angeles Chargers won their opener.

For the Chargers, quarterback play was also pretty pleasing. Justin Herbert passed for 347 yards and one score as the Bolts came from behind to defeat the Washington Football Team 20-16 in the nation’s capitol.

It was new Coach Brandon Staley’s debut as head Charger. He commented on the significance of starting his career 3,000 miles from California.

“If you want to do anything in the league worth anything, you’ve got to be able to win away from home,” he said. “I think the West Coast to East Coast thing is an illusion. It’s what you make of it. We came here to play.”

The Chargers (1-0) will be back in California on Sunday (Sept. 19) hosting the Dallas Cowboys (0-1) at SoFi Stadium at 1:25 p.m.

USC fires Helton as head football coach

UPDATE: The University of Southern California announced Monday afternoon it was firing Clay Helton as head football coach. Assistant head coach Donte Williams will serve as interim head coach.

But did the USC football team come to play on Saturday when it got hammered by Stanford 42-28 in a game that was not as close as the score suggests?

The next biggest question is should Clay Helton continue as head coach? After the cardinal-and-gold were beaten black-and-blue by the Cardinal in front of an early-departing crowd at the Coliseum, the cry went up: Helton is on the hot seat.

It may seem a little unusual to hear the baying of the hounds this early in the season, but sports writers, broadcasters and fans are already  – metaphorically – cleaning out Helton’s desk. Los Angeles Times columnist Bill Plaschke stuck a fork in Helton in an article on Sunday.

“USC needs to remove Clay Helton right here, no more waiting, no more waffling, no more rationalizing, no more rhapsodizing. Enough is enough, just do it.”

Helton is taking it calmly, at least outwardly.

“It’s going to be one of those weeks when we have to stay extremely close together,” he told the Times. Well-said, but if USC goes 1-2, the fans and more will be extremely close to painting over his parking spot.

The Trojans (1-1) will try again this coming Saturday on the road, visiting Washington State (1-1) at 12:30 p.m.

Dodgers still in the race, but ….

It’s said that “you can’t win them all,” but if the Dodgers are going to catch the Giants in the National League race, that perfection may have to be their goal.

Over the last 10 games, the San Francisco team won nine of 10 games and lengthened its lead over the Dodgers from one game to 2.5. That’s not insurmountable, but with only about three weeks left to play, there’s not much room for error.

On Sunday, Max Scherzer recorded his 3,000th career strikeout in the Blue Crew’s 8-0 win over the Padres. Fans kept one eye on the record book and the other on the scoreboard as SF defeated the Cubs, 6-5.

Dodgers schedule: A home series Monday through Wednesday hosting the Diamondbacks. Thursday is an off-day, and then a three-game series in Cincinnati Friday to Sunday.

The Angels, on the other hand, are just playing out the string. The Halos lost 3-1 to the Astros and fell three games under .500 and 10 games back of a wild card spot. Oh, well, Mike Trout will be back next year …

Angels schedule: The Halos are idle today (Monday) and open a three-game series (Tuesday to Thursday) against the White Sox in Chicago. They return home on Friday to begin a three-game series (Friday to Sunday hosting the Athletics.

Final Out:  Former USC star Keyshawn Johnson tweeted this about USC’s loss to Stanford and, presumably, Clay Helton. “I’m so p—ed, I can no longer FIGHT ON for him … Period. Embarrassing.”

“Sports Monday” is written by Pete Zarustica.





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