NFL Q&A: Acquire Christian McCaffrey? Is Justin Herbert healthy?

Readers had a lot on their minds after the Rams and Chargers’ recent games. Rams beat writer Gary Klein and Chargers beat writer Jeff Miller, asking some questions:

Offensive line depth, or lack thereof, seems so crucial to both LA teams. Is there really a shortage of good linemen, or does it only take half a season for a line to learn to work together?

Jim James, Castaic

Miller: I would say the answer is both. Offensive linemen in football are very similar to pitchers in baseball. Very few teams have five quality starters, leading to everyone scrambling to hide their weaknesses. And yes, chemistry is key in offensive linemen. You can only develop that over time.

Klein: I don’t think there is a lack of good linemen. The problem for the Rams is that they haven’t had a shortage of injuries. Joe Noteboom, David Edwards, Tremayne Anchrum, Coleman Shelton and Logan Bruss are on injured reserve. And Jeff is right: it’s all about chemistry and communication. This will need time.

Is Justin Herbert 100% healthy?

Cliff Barbier, San Pedro

Miller: No. Herbert was asked last week to give a percentage for his health — like 80%, 90% — and he declined. It’s hard to tell how much he’s still struggling with his fractured rib cartilage, but he’s certainly not 100%. Just look at how reluctantly he’s stopped running lately. That’s pretty telling.

The Rams should definitely act for McCaffrey. We need a versatile back that can pressure the defense with both rushing and receiving skills and take some of the pressure off of Stafford. We have an angry rewind in Cam Akers. Couldn’t Cam Akers and a third-round draft pick be tempting for the Panthers?

Aries Ambatipudi, Glendale

Klein: Christian McCaffrey is a star player, a running back who can help any team. Sean McVay would love to have it, of course. But the Panthers have leverage. I would guess that it takes a first or second round pick and a good player to entice them. The Rams don’t have a first-round pick until 2024. And Akers is arguably not a very hot commodity given his current situation.

Carolina Panthers running back Christian McCaffrey (left) is tackled by Rams cornerback Jalen Ramsey.

Carolina Panthers running back Christian McCaffrey (left) is tackled by Rams cornerback Jalen Ramsey at SoFi Stadium.

(Jayne Kamin-Oncea / Associated Press)

What is the problem with charger red zone efficiency? Apparently they had trouble getting TDs (even before Staley and Herbert).

Dale Onyon, Jamestown, Kent.

Miller: The Chargers are 24th in the red zone this season, which isn’t good for a team with Justin Herbert at quarterback. A year ago they finished fifth overall. Last season’s biggest dropoff so far was Mike Williams and Keenan Allen scoring just two touchdowns. Allen is yet to score and has missed the last five games with a hamstring problem. Another issue was the Chargers’ struggles to lead the ball in the first 3 or 4 weeks. The ability to run the ball deep into opponent’s territory is often a major factor in red zone efficiency.

It’s not a question of if, but when the Rams will make a big deal to reverse their offensive woes. Should they make a less “sexy” trade and try to improve the O-line, or pull in a better running back with Cam Akers likely coming out the door?

James Brooks, Santa Clarita

Klein: The Rams won’t reverse their offensive line until some of their injured players return. Center Brian Allen is expected to be back after the open house. Coleman Shelton is also likely to return at some point. Rest assured that Les Snead and his professional staff will be examining their offensive line and retrace options as the trading deadline approaches.

Wouldn’t the Rams be better off going for 2-3 solid offensive linemen instead of an expensive running back like McCaffery? You won a Super Bowl last year without a big-name running back, and you need linemen who can open holes no matter how talented the running back is.

Matthew Bauer, La Verne

Klein: The Rams would be better off signing or trading two or three linemen and a running back. But that is easier said than done. Two or three solid offensive linemen are a commodity and typically not readily available unless they have contracts that teams want to offload. The Rams won a Super Bowl last season with a mostly intact line. All of these linemen had worked together during the offseason and training camp. I agree that a star running back isn’t required to win a Super Bowl, but McCaffrey on a McVay offense would be something to watch.

Do you think the Chargers can and should act for McCaffrey?

Joe G, Redding

Miller: You could, yes. But I don’t think it would be wise to do so, not, for example, with a greater need for edge rushers. I think the Chargers could make a move at the close of trade, but I suspect it would be for defense first.

Coach Staley’s decision not to prick The end of the Chargers-Browns game is still harrowing to me and many other fans. Can we trust Coach Staley to make the right decisions in the game, or will his insane decisions cost the Chargers a playoff berth?

Steve Karges, San Diego

Miller: If you don’t trust or believe in analytics, you will never trust or believe in Staley. Making such decisions is part of his nature. So, I suspect if you’re not on board yet, you never will be. NFL Q&A: Acquire Christian McCaffrey? Is Justin Herbert healthy?

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