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Michael Duarte | NBC LA Reporter

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September 9, 2022 6:11 am

Michael Duarte | NBC LA Reporter

Amy Lawrence Show / Amy Lawrence

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September 9, 2022 6:11 am

NBC LA Reporter Michael Duarte joins the show from SoFi Stadium to recap Bills/Rams NFL season opener.

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From Los Angeles, our friend Michael Duarte, who covers all things sports in LA for NBC LA. Michael, I gotta ask, how do the Rams make this the actual Rams house? Because that is the hashtag on Twitter and yet it certainly does seem like all the big games that the Rams play in their own stadium, their brand new SoFi stadium that there are just as many loud fans for the opposing teams. Your little vacation is visiting your mom.

I'm glad to have you back on air. And I would say that the Rams, whose house Rams house mantra rallying cry, if you want to call it, that they do here at SoFi stadium is probably one of the worst in sports, right? First of all, you share the stadium.

So it's not just your house. The Chargers call this home as well. And especially on the NFL season opener on Thursday Night Football. It was a Bills takeover. And they took over the house and robbed you of the stadium.

And left you stranded with the cupboard's bear, so to speak. So I thought it was at least 50-50 Bills fans to Rams fans. And I started telling everybody in the press box, my cohorts on the local television affiliates here, wait until that final touchdown where they went up 31 to 10 and scored. And we can now watch all the Rams fans here in L.A. head for the exits. And now we'll really get a chance to see how many Bills fans there were because honestly the Rams blew and the Bills blew with a very similar blue. So we couldn't really tell who was who just looking at the stadium. But once the blowout was on and we saw the Rams fans head for the exits, you really got to see the Bills mafia in full support and just how well they traveled, which I was very impressed by myself. How do the Rams react to that, to having such a loud presence for opponents in their own stadium? Great question. It's one question I actually asked Matthew Stafford myself after the game. How do they prepare for it?

They actually do. They believed knowing that the Bills are one of those teams that travel very well, a la the San Francisco 49ers who also travel very well to SoFi Stadium. And I'm sure there's a few other fan bases out there that we could mention that travel well when it comes to L.A..

The thing that you mentioned and you said it in the tease. Right. And I would take Von Miller a step further. This isn't the greatest stadium in the NFL. It's the greatest stadium arguably in the world, especially when you're talking about the technology involved, the money that went into it.

Five, six billion dollars. And just the weather when you factor in the weather of Southern California, the proximity to the beach, the proximity to LAX, the fact that you have a beautiful sunset here in the summer in Los Angeles with planes flying overhead. We've had a heat wave here, Amy. So, you know, the Rams offense was just as inconsistent as the weather, but it wasn't that hot today.

It was like the one day the temperature dropped about 10, 15 degrees. And so to answer your question, they're prepared for fans to travel well. They were prepared for the Bills mafia to travel well and be breaking some of those plastic tables in the parking lot during the tailgate. So what they did was all week in practice, they practiced the silent count. It's similar to what they did in the Super Bowl. It's similar to what they do when they travel on the road in hostile environments like they are traveling to New Orleans later this year. I'm sure they'll use that silent count in New Orleans. And they did it against the San Francisco 49ers in the NFC Championship as well. So they were prepared for it and they had to switch to that silent count early in this game as the Bills fans got louder and especially late in the game once the Bills started to really take over and the route was on. Michael Duarte of NBC LA is with us post season opener for the NFL at the home of the Super Bowl champion Rams. It's after hours on CBS Sports Radio. Have you had a chance to hold one of those Super Bowl rings?

I have had a chance. We had Jacobs Jewelers who came in and did the ring. They came into our station and let us all see it and put it on. Now I will say we didn't get a players ring. We got an executives ring to kind of show around. So I heard the players are even bigger than the ring that we got to see. And a couple people today in the press box, people I haven't seen in the last seven months since the Super Bowl, showed me their rings.

People who worked for the Rams. A little bit smaller but still impressive nonetheless. I'm surprised they're wearing them because that's something I would put in a safe deposit box or something or lock in a safe. That is a very expensive ring. It is very big.

It weighs your hand down. But it's beautiful. And another cool thing today was seeing the Rams championship banner unveiled. And the Rams even went the extra mile and having another banner made up for the 1999 championship when they were the then St. Louis Rams. Those banners will now live adjacent to each other side by side in the south side of the stadium forever supposedly. And I just wonder what the Chargers are going to do here this Sunday if those banners will stay up while they're playing the Raiders in their home opener. That is funny but it's what happens, right? You have to share stadiums while you can't take down everything when you flip it. So that's interesting. The Rams obviously are a team that's got a bunch of moving parts and even as they kick off the season, they're missing a couple of guys because of injuries.

They hope to get back. It was fascinating though to see Andrew Whitworth there with the Vince Lombardi trophy and an Odell Beckham Jr. standing right next to him in pregame. Did you know he was there or was going to be there? I had no clue he was going to be there but I was actually on the field when he walked out and I didn't get him fast enough but I got my phone ready and followed him a little bit.

So there's some video on my Instagram. I think on Twitter it's on my TikTok as well of Odell Beckham Jr. hugging Matthew Stafford. That was the first time they saw each other before the game.

And so I have that. And the other interesting thing here, Amy, is I would guess that Odell Beckham Jr., once he's fully healthy and ready to return this season, probably after the bye week, I'm looking at maybe week 8 or 9, similar to when he was cut by the Browns and signed with the Rams as a free agent last year, that these are the two teams at the top of his list. We know Von Miller, his best buddy who recruited him to the Rams, is now on the Bills trying to recruit him to the Bills and he tweeted out after the game just how impressive the Bills mafia looked with their fans and just how the Bills looked on the field.

He must have been impressed with what he saw from Josh Allen and the passes he was throwing to those receivers like Staphon Diggs and Gabe Davis. And then you look at the Rams who have a locker at their practice facility in Thousand Oaks for Odell Beckham Jr. It is still there. His nameplate is on it.

They have jerseys and stuff in there. They are waiting for his return. And I'm sure guys were recruiting him tonight.

And there he was with the Lombardi Trophy doing the banner unveiling. So these are the two teams I think at some point, one of the two he'll be deciding between and I think he'll end up on one of these two. Probably the Rams if you look at tonight as far as who needs a receiver. But speaking of Andrew Whitworth, they definitely could have used him tonight, Amy, because this game in my opinion was decided in the trenches. Matthew Stafford sacked seven times the most he's ever been sacked as a member of the Rams and I think the most since his early 2018 season with the Detroit Lions. That is not a number that the Rams want to see their quarterback, especially with his ailing elbow, on the turf all that much.

So they definitely could have used Andrew Whitworth and Odell Beckham Jr. in my opinion on the field tonight. We know OBJ loves to be loved. He loves to be courted. He loves to be the center of attention. So no doubt he's going to milk this for all it's worth.

All it's worth. I saw there's actually a nightclub at SoFi Stadium on the south side of the stadium in the corner of the end zone. It's called Bootsy Bellows. It's an actual club that's here in Hollywood as well. And they cut to the cameras and you're probably not going to be surprised to see Odell Beckham Jr. partying in that club during the game with a lot of people around him. So that didn't surprise me yet. Michael Duarte from Los Angeles following the NFL season opener. It's after hours on CBS Sports Radio.

I saw the tweet that you retweeted from Cooper Cup. Reflect. Rectify.

Respond. This is not a situation the Rams have been in under Sean McVay. First time they've ever lost the season opener.

What do they have to say about what they do now or where they go from here? Great question Amy and I expected there to be more excuses than a John Gruden apology at the end of this game. They weren't. It was all Sean McVay taking on full responsibility. A word I saw many players say in the postgame comments. I'm talking about Jalen Ramsey who very frankly said we got our butts beat. And not in those same words I just use but but from Cooper Cup to Bobby Wagner to Matthew Stafford to Sean McVay everybody said it was humbling. This was a humbling experience. And when you're the champs when you're coming off of a historic season and winning it on your field and all the dreams come true to be beaten like this.

In your home stadium on the night that your banner was unveiled and the last time you probably would celebrate that that championship run from last year to be beaten this badly. It definitely was a wake up call. I also tweeted out because I was standing right next to it the locker room and the press conference room were literally sharing a wall there right next to each other. I heard Sean McVay go in there and lay into his team really. He vowed I can't repeat what he said because I don't have that many expletives in my vocabulary but there was a lot of them. But what I can tell you I heard and I heard him say is he promised them this will never happen again. He promised them this kind of loss like this will never happen again. The way that they didn't prepare he didn't feel like Sean McVay didn't feel like he had his team prepared. He didn't feel like he was he felt like he was out coached by Sean McDermott.

So all of these things he took ownership for. And like I said everybody really felt like this was a truly humbling experience for them. And like we mentioned I think they got to fix this on the offensive and defensive line. I think they were not prepared for the pressure the bills were able to put on them with a four man front. Led by Von Miller of course who may have some inside information because he went against that O line a lot in practice last year and may have been able to pass that on to his teammates now with the bills. The biggest takeaway I saw and I saw a stat on online Amy was Josh Allen got the ball got rid of the ball in 2.37 seconds on average and that's including the times you know he carried and was outside the pocket and made plays with his feet. Whereas Matthew Stafford held on the ball too long and a lot of those sacks he took of those seven we mentioned I think could have been avoidable had he gotten rid of the ball quicker.

And so that's one big thing that I'm looking at the trenches right here on both offensive and defensive line where the Rams need to improve moving forward. Out of curiosity was the press room full when Sean McVay was going on his initial tirade? Oh yeah absolutely and I would say most of us tried to go against the wall and literally put our ear against the wall to hear it and I was actually told please go take your seat. Eavesdropping on Sean McVay's post game speech if you want to call it. It was more of a tirade of a chewing out but also like of him taking responsibility for it.

And we heard all the cliches in the book once he went to the podium after that. He has to be better. He needs to have his team more prepared.

And he takes full ownership for the loss and he wears it. And we're talking about a guy who entering this game Amy was a perfect 5 and 0 in season openers in his tenure as the Rams head coach. And this was his first ever season opening loss.

And there's one thing that was interesting about that stat right. So entering this game that's five straight years they won the opener and we know Sean McVay famously doesn't play any of his starting players in the preseason. But I can tell you that a lot of guys looked incredibly rusty out there tonight including the offensive line of the Rams not prepared to block that that builds front for including Jalen Ramsey who you know is coming off of off season shoulder surgery. He really didn't get a lot of reps. He's probably still working himself back into game shape. Obviously he didn't even play at all in the preseason but he really didn't even play in training camp or in practice or anything.

So he's really not up to it. And I saw a stat where he got in times that he was targeted by Josh Allen he was targeted seven times. Six of those were completions for one hundred and twenty four yards and two touchdowns.

I know two of them were big plays but Jalen Ramsey got exposed tonight. I love Michael Duarte for many reasons but one of them has got to be the fact that he will stand on a wall with his ear next to it to hear what's happening. This is how you get the real inside information. That's true. Fantastic.

I love it. Okay before I let you go I genuinely do not know the answer to this. I know if there is an answer you will have it. What's bigger right now? Is it the Dodgers and their enormously to top the NL West and all of their World Series aspirations or is it Rams starting off defense of their title?

That's a great question. Right now I'd have to say it's the heat wave because it has both fans here in Los Angeles avoiding anywhere where they have to be outside in triple digit heat. But since the Dodgers in my opinion are about a week away here from clinching.

Yeah. What's their magic number now. Their magic number six as my gosh.

And they are playing the team that's behind them. So if they were to sweep the Padres this weekend in San Diego which I will be there by the way if you need anything if they were to sweep the Padres they will have clinched the NL West on Sunday and that'll be their ninth division crown in the last 10 years. So I think once that happens Dodger fans will really get excited I think that's going to be at the forefront. They have the best record in baseball. They are on pace to potentially shatter the franchise record and wins and then still the all time MLB record is still within sight right now though. I don't think they'll get it but it's definitely still in a possibility. They lead almost every offensive category in Major League Baseball so fans are really hoping that this is the year they can do it and they can kind of put all the people that talk about the bubble title to bed. Interesting.

I asked Michael not that long ago over a text when he ever takes time off and the answer was well I didn't this year because the All-Star break was in L.A. so no rest for you Mike. I don't know how you do it. You're like the energizer bunny. I'm like a MasterCard. I mean I'm everywhere you want to be. Oh my gosh. How many times have you used that line. Only a couple. I save it for your show.

Yes. First time on national radio so find Michael on Twitter at Michael J Duarte. He is award winning for many reasons like the fact that he'll put his ear to a wall to get inside info covers Dodgers and Rams and everything else for NBC L.A. It's always good to talk to you Mike. Stay cool out there. You too and give your animals a big hug for me.

I will do that. Now see another reason why Mike is our favorite. Good night Mike. Bye bye. Thanks Amy.
Whisper: medium.en / 2023-01-31 11:25:38 / 2023-01-31 11:32:22 / 7

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