The Los Angeles Rams are coming off of a disappointing season and difficult offseason, the remedy of which would involve several players having career years when the games begin again. Today, I’ll focus three such players on offense who may need to perform at a superb level not only to help the Rams, but potentially also to keep their jobs.
Darrell Henderson, RB
With Todd Gurley, LA proved to have a system capable of being the most dangerous rushing team in the league. Then Gurley started losing power, the New England Patriots shut them down in the Super Bowl, and it hasn’t been the same since. As a third round pick following the Super Bowl, expectations were relatively high for Henderson as a rookie. He was dominant at Memphis, averaging 8.9 yards per carry over each of his final two seasons and going over 2,200 total yards as a senior. But he couldn’t find that kind of momentum with the Rams and he only finished with 39 carries for 147 yards and zero touchdowns as a rookie.
With Gurley off the team, the door was wide open for Henderson to become a starting back, but then Sean McVay and Les Snead drafted a running back with their first pick. But as another example within the NFC West, the Seattle Seahawks drafted Rashaad Penny in the first round in 2018 and he has spent two seasons as the backup to a former seventh rounder. Henderson hasn’t lost the job, he’s simply entered a competition. If he wins it, Henderson could become one of the most improved players in the NFC.
If he loses it, Henderson may not have been the fit they were hoping for last year.
Jared Goff, QB
It’s hard to imagine how the Rams would try to separate themselves from Goff if he took a successive step back next season. They will incur massive cap charges in each of the next both years with no money saved by trading or releasing him, so there’s little choice but to make it work; perhaps this is yet another reason the team went with offensive weapons in the second round who may be able to contribute immediately.
Though the offensive line remains a legitimate concern, Goff will still have Andrew Whitworth at left tackle, plus Robert Woods, Cooper Kupp, and Tyler Higbee as his mean receiving threats. He will have Henderson and Cam Akers as his two main running backs. He will have Gerald Everett and Brycen Hopkins as second and third options at tight end, assuming Everett isn’t traded. And he will have Van Jefferson and Josh Reynolds. Several other players on the offensive line have also had better years, such as Austin Blythe and Rob Havenstein.
There’s no other way around it: this is the season for Goff to really establish what kind of quarterback he’s going to be defined as in the national conversation. It happens to every quarterback at some point and while Goff has sort of bounced around from a painful rookie season to the Super Bowl to what happened in 2019, next season may really determine if he gets a good reputation or a bad one.
Bobby Evans, G/T
I may have chosen Joseph Noteboom but with his ACL, MCL injury, now is not the year to evaluate his future. Instead let’s point to Evans, who may have shown the most promise and by winning a starting job out of camp, could really establish himself as a mainstay on the line. Of course, just about anyone in camp could do that right about now because so little about the line is established, but perhaps Evans has the best opportunity to do so.