Welcome back to ‘The Super Bowl Race In The Chase, a close to daily NFL article previewing your favorite teams season! The Los Angeles Rams, going into last season. were the reigning Super Bowl champs with talent on all ends. A year later, they’re a team coming off of a five win season with really nothing going there way. But is there a possibility things could change? Could Los Angeles go back to, even just being a playoff team? Or was this was one of the biggest ‘Super Bowl to Bad’ experiences in sports history? Here is everything you need to know about the Los Angeles Rams going into 2023!
It has to be answered: Is there a chance the running game with Cam Akers can finally work?
Last year was a huge surprise. The Rams went from a Super Bowl team that didn’t get worse whatsoever to a 5-12 team. Matthew Stafford completed 68% of his passes for 10 touchdowns and eight interceptions and had just an 87.4 rating. Overall, he wasn’t anywhere close to the same player he was in 2021. Baker Mayfield started to improve his game in his minimal time there, and his 13 point 4th quarter comeback and Christmas Day blowout over the Broncos was essentially the only enjoyment Rams fan had all season long!
In the running game, Cam Akers ran for just under 800 yards on 4.2 yards per attempt, but hasn’t quite been the same player since his Achilles tear in 2021. Darrell Henderson was not playing anywhere close to the quality of football he was playing at in 2021, so he was waived mid-season and is yet to play football again. And the Rams really had no other runners. In the receiving game, Cooper Kupp had 812 yards and six touchdowns in nine games before going down with a season ending ankle injury. Allen Robinson underperformed in his minimal action with the team, and Tyler Higbee was a decent tight end.
Defensively, Aaron Donald was still amazing, ranking third in PFF rating among all interior defenders, but only played eleven games and had five sacks. In fact, Donald, even if he did play the full 17 game season, was on pace to have his first single digit sack season since 2016. Maybe it’s time to hang up the cleats. Jalen Ramsey was still producing like one of the best cornerbacks in the league, catching four interceptions with the third best PFF rating among all cornerbacks. Behind him was Cobie Durant with three interceptions. In the front seven, Bobby Wagner may have not produced at an All-Pro level, but the future Hall of Famer totaled 140 tackles, 10 tackles for loss, two interceptions and six sacks in his first and so far last season in Los Angeles. He ranked first among all linebackers in PFF rating last season. Leonard Floyd also had nine sacks.
This offseason though showed Los Angeles was no longer thinking about contending. The Rams traded Jalen Ramsey to the Dolphins for essentially chump change. They let go of Leonard Floyd and Bobby Wagner, and decided to part ways with guys like Allen Robinson. They brought in Duke Shelly, a corner rated 3rd in coverage by PFF, but he won’t make a tremendous impact. And unless you consider signing Demarcus Robinson a ground-breaking move, Los Angeles did nothing to improve their offense either!
It’s a mess in Los Angeles. They have an injury prone team and one of if not the worst defense they’ve had since moving back to Los Angeles! They had no first round pick since it went to Detroit in the Stafford trade a few offseason’s back, and they’re notable draft acquisition was bringing in a 25 year old 4th round quarterback! It’s a disaster. The only things you have to think about is that this is still a team with Matt Stafford, Cooper Kupp, Aaron Donald and maybe a healthy and more improved Cam Akers. Maybe this team could compete for a playoff spot. And yes if we simulated this upcoming NFL season ten times, one of those times Los Angeles would click again. But I’m looking at the other nine, and the glaring weaknesses this team has on both sides of the ball.
The thing I would like to mention though is Cam Akers and this Rams rushing game. I was REALLY high on Cam Akers after a promising rookie season. I thought he, and J.K. Dobbins, would be the Jonathan Taylor’s of the 2020 draft class. And it’s unfortunate because his Achilles tear had a lot to do with it, but I don’t think Akers will ever be that player I anticipated. This year is going to hurt him even more. Matt Stafford may throw for 30+ touchdowns and 4500 yards just because they’re going to be passing the ball A LOT this year, due to the amount of points they’re going to allow. I just don’t think Akers is as explosive, and he won’t be the player I was really hoping he could be.
Overall, this Rams team has a few players, a few question marks, and a team that should rank towards the bottom of the NFL. If those players aren’t that good anymore, it could be a brutal year to be a Los Angeles Rams fan!
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