With the devastating news of Cam Akers’ season ending Achilles tear, are the Los Angeles Rams’ “Super Bowl or bust” expectations still realistic? At this current moment, it is a bit harder to answer that question with a resounding “Yes!” than it would have been this time Monday.
However, there are still many reasons to be hopeful for a deep playoff push this season.
1 - While the run game may take a slight dip this fall, the Rams offense is still talented enough to overcome this injury
Head Coach Sean McVay most certainly has enough at his disposal to scheme together a top-10 offense this season. LA will still be a run first team, but there will have to be more reliability on the passing game.
The deal to acquire former Detroit Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford now looms even larger than before. While I appreciate Jared Goff’s contributions, I am much more confident in the outlook of the Rams season with Stafford leading the way and that should lessen LA’s need for a top-flight running back like what they had hoped for even a couple days ago.
The Rams may have lost Akers in July, but thank goodness they traded for Stafford in January.
Los Angeles’ new QB1 is used to playing with much less from a running back perspective than Darrell Henderson, who we would now assume to carry the bulk of carries at running back this year. I am willing to bet that Stafford will still get enough out of the backfield to provide him with the best running game he has had in his career. Don’t believe me?
The Lions only ever produced one 1,000-yard back during Stafford’s 12 seasons with the team: Reggie Bush had 1,006 yards in 2013. Surely, Henderson can at least compete with those numbers.
2 - Let’s not forget the Rams still field one of the most championship-ready defenses in the NFL
Even if they were to drop from the top unit to top-five contention, combined with the expectation of an improved special teams unit, that should still be enough to produce a highly competitive and balanced team, at the very least.
The Rams finished with the number one defense in the NFL in 2020 by Weighted DVOA, per FootballOutsiders:
Aaron Donald, Jalen Ramsey, Leonard Floyd, Darious Williams, and Jordan Fuller headline what should be another great season from LA’s defense.
Without Akers for much of the 2020 season, the Rams still finished 10-6 and made the playoffs. Add to that, LA beat the eventual Super Bowl champion Tampa Bay Buccaneers with the former Florida State runner only generating 15 yards on five carries. That is the sign of a balanced team.
The mountain may be a much tougher climb this season without the second year stud toting the rock, but the Rams remain in prime position to reach that summit and contend for the Lombardi trophy.
Have you changed your expectations for the Rams’ 2021 season at all based on this injury?
This poll is closed
Yes, a lot
Yes, a little
No, running backs don’t matter
No, but running backs do matter