The season of appreciation and giving thanks is upon us.
While the Los Angeles Rams do not play on Thanksgiving Day, football still fills a significant role in the holiday — so while football is on the brain, let us give thanks to some of the key contributors that have led the Rams to a 7-3 record through the first 10 games of the 2021 season.
From the Turf Show Times family to yours — happy Thanksgiving!
1 - Les Snead, General Manager
Sean McVay rightfully receives ample praise for his work as an offensive genius, but Les Snead has identified inefficiencies in the value of draft picks relative to proven commodities — and the Rams’ team building approach that exploits this inefficiency is one of the most innovative in the NFL. While some consider Snead’s approach as one that mortgages the future for success now, LA has a core of stars that the team should be able to count on for the foreseeable future.
Snead’s aggressive maneuvers have brought the following key contributors to the team in recent seasons: Matthew Stafford, QB; Sony Michel, RB; Odell Beckham, Jr., WR; Austin Corbett, RG; Von Miller, OLB; and Jalen Ramsey, CB.
2 - Cooper Kupp’s historic start to the season
Through 10 games, Cooper Kupp has already recorded 85 receptions for 1,141 yards and 10 touchdowns, averaging an amazing 114.1 yards per game. With the benefit of the 17th game this season, Kupp is on pace to finish just shy of Calvin Johnson’s 2012 single-season receiving yardage record of 1,946.
The veteran’s 85 receptions are also the most through 10 games in Rams franchise history - besting 75 catches by Torry Holt and 71 catches by Isaac Bruce. Anytime a receiver is mentioned in the same conversation as Holt and Bruce it is likely good news.
3 - The signing of OBJ
I was fairly pessimistic at the time of the Odell Beckham, Jr. signing, as Los Angeles had just cut a veteran receiver, DeSean Jackson, they seemingly couldn’t fit into the offense in terms of volume of opportunities. However, bringing OBJ into the fold quickly went from a luxury to a necessity after Robert Woods was injured in practice and expected to be out for the remainder of the season.
Odell gets his first catch with the Rams pic.twitter.com/sw4UbrTkum— Def Pen Sports (@DefPenSports) November 16, 2021
It was unfair to expect fireworks in OBJ’s first game with the team, but the receiver has spent the bye week continuing to learn the ropes.
Which bring us to ...
4 - The timing of the team’s bye week
After starting the season 7-1, LA has dropped two straight under the primetime lights. It’s fair to question whether the team can right the ship over the final seven contests; however, we should also appreciate the exciting moments the team has produced on their way to 7-3.
There are a number of adjustments that need to be addressed during the bye week, such as the acclimation of Von Miller and Beckham, Jr., identifying complementary pieces in the secondary and the best plan for the utilization of Jalen Ramsey moving forward, and how to return the offense to the explosive attack it was earlier in the season before the turnover bug set in.
This week will be important to hit the reset button and prepare the team for a potential Super Bowl push.
5 - Matthew Stafford - when he’s at his best
In the Rams’ seven victories Matthew Stafford has thrown for 20 touchdowns and only 3 interceptions. In the team’s three losses Stafford has thrown more interceptions (5) than touchdowns (4).
We don't play today... but enjoy some of our best passing TDs so far. pic.twitter.com/DzHo78C0ra— Los Angeles Rams (@RamsNFL) November 21, 2021
It is clear that the Rams will go as Stafford goes, so Los Angeles will need the signal caller at his best over the second half of the season and into the playoffs. When things are clicking —LA is one of the best teams in the NFL.
6 - Jalen Ramsey and his physical presence
The most consistent star player for LA this season may very well be Jalen Ramsey — and it’s clear that the corner has raised his level of play after a stellar 2020 season. Ramsey is the most physical corner in the NFL and the Rams’ usage of him in the “star” position allows him to play closer to the line of scrimmage of affect the game as much as possible. Ramsey has two game-sealing interceptions this season in the team’s victories over the Indianapolis Colts and the Detroit Lions.
Jalen Ramsey shutting down the reverse pic.twitter.com/6OEHjkwBHa— SyedSchemes (@syedschemes) November 8, 2021
7 - Aaron Donald — he’s still great
Aaron Donald has been the best defensive player in the NFL for most of his career, and he’s still playing the game and affecting offenses at a high level. Through 10 games the star defensive tackle has 6 sacks, which is still impressive given his position on the interior and the fact he draws multiple blockers at an incredibly high frequency.