It’s “underdogs” week at SB Nation.
The Los Angeles Rams entered 2018 as NFC favorites and went to the Super Bowl. They again were expected to win the division in 2019, but the Rams fell to 9-7 and finished in third, putting them back into an “underdog role” next season. Many expect them to finish third or fourth in the NFC West again as such is the plight of people making predictions when we know so little about how the 2020 season will play out.
However, predictions are based off perceptions and the perception of LA right now is that they’ve overspent on certain players, lost key starters, and may struggle to right the ship in the near future. That’s okay, the same thing happened to them in 1999 and that worked out. Sean McVay took over one of the worst teams in the league and immediately turned them around.
The Rams may be underdogs again and they’ll have some underdogs on the roster trying to prove themselves by helping the team.
Jared Goff, underdog for Pro Bowl, top-10 QB status
He had the opportunity in his hands going into 2019 to solidify himself as a top-10 QB and it didn’t work out. But if Goff and McVay can find their 2018 success again then he’ll have been good in three of the last four seasons.
Rob Havenstein, underdog for Pro Bowl, left tackle of the future
The team was super high on Havenstein, rewarding him with an extension, but then he got hurt and eventually lost his job to Bobby Evans. He’s expected to win that job back but can he win back hope and expectations from fans that he’ll be a mainstay at tackle for the next five or six years?
Cam Akers, underdog Offensive Rookie of the Year
First he needs to beat out Malcolm Brown and Darrell Henderson. Then he needs to make due with what could be a bad run blocking offensive line unit. Then he needs to stay healthy and hope that the Rams aren’t falling behind early and turning to Goff and the passing offense by the second half. But Akers did a lot with little at Florida State. Can he then beat out players like Joe Burrow, CeeDee Lamb, Clyde Edwards-Helaire and others for this honor?
Terrell Lewis, underdog Defensive Rookie of the Year
Were it not for his injuries, Lewis could have been a first round pick and theoretically the talent would still be there now for him to be one of the better edge rushers in this draft. If he can win Dante Fowler’s starting job then perhaps he could get to double-digit sacks. That’s a big IF — that’s why it’s an underdogs post.
Austin Corbett, underdog starting interior lineman
He was a second round pick of the Cleveland Browns not long ago. Which of the underdog offensive linemen competing for a job are you rooting for the most?
Jalen Ramsey, underdog Defensive Player of the Year
We know that Aaron Donald can win the award. Can Ramsey put together a statistically dominant season (including six or more interceptions) and help the Rams defense become one of the better units in the league, a la Stephon Gilmore and Tre’Davious White in 2019?
Lirim Hajrullahu, underdog kicker
It’s either him, Sam Sloman, or Austin MacGinnis. Pick your underdog.
Micah Kiser, underdog important starting linebacker
There’s so many names at linebacker. Kiser, Kenny Young, Troy Reeder, Travin Howard ... Can Kiser come back, win the job, and provide enough value to ease the loss of Cory Littleton?
Brandon Staley and Kevin O’Connell, underdog future head coaches
Between the two, I’d lean Staley. I think the Rams defense has more potential to be dominant next season and with players like Donald and Ramsey, they could end up forcing a lot of turnovers. McVay has put a couple of head coaches into the league already and Staley may end up being a fit for some organization in one or two years.