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5 ways the Rams can improve after their bye week

Tutu Atwell should be on the field more often. Matthew Stafford needs to cut down on turnovers.

Carolina Panthers v Los Angeles Rams Photo by Harry How/Getty Images

The Los Angeles Rams did not expect to be 3-3 coming off their victory in Super Bowl LVI.

They probably didn’t anticipate needing to dip into their reserves at every position along the offensive line save for right tackle. Sean McVay did not design his offense to account for his quarterback constantly being under duress.

There are excuses for a disappointing start to the 2022 season - and then there are reasons. Nevertheless, here we are.

If the Rams want to turn things around heading into the second of their season, they can start with these five items:

1 - Acquire a capable starter at RB

Christian McCaffrey of the Carolina Panthers would certainly check this box, but the asking price might be outside what the Rams are able and willing to pay. McCaffrey would transcend the struggles on the offensive line, especially considering his effectiveness as a receiver out in space. LA is in desperate need of a short-yardage receiver than can churn out yards on the ground - and the star RB provides just that.

If McCaffrey proves too expensive of a trade target, Los Angeles could turn their focus to Melvin Gordon (Broncos) or D’Ernest Johnson (Browns).

Carolina Panthers v Los Angeles Rams Photo by Harry How/Getty Images

2 - Give Tutu Atwell more playing time

...not because of his draft status or name - but because he’s earned it

Similar to Allen Robinson, Atwell received raving reviews of his performance in training camp. The second-year receiver unfortunately dropped his first target of the year against the Buffalo Bills, and those rave reviews quickly turned to groans.

But on Atwell’s next target he was way behind the Arizona Cardinals’ defense - only Matthew Stafford overthrew him. Stafford missed him again on an open deep shot in Week 5 versus the Dallas Cowboys, though the second attempted resulted in an exciting 54-yard connection. Last week against the Panthers, Atwell took a jet sweep that didn’t seem to have much room nine yards.

He has difference-making speed, and it’s clear he’s ready to contribute on offense in his second year. It’s time to get Atwell more touches, because when he has the football in his hands good things seem to happen.

3 - Get healthy on offense

Los Angeles is expecting center Brian Allen to return for the Week 8 game against the San Francisco 49ers, and the veteran should be a big improvement over Jeremiah Kolone. There haven’t been many updated on LG David Edwards since he re-entered concussion protocol after the Cowboys game, but it’s reasonable to assume he could return over the next couple of games.

The Rams’ offense has sorely missed receiver Van Jefferson’s ability to stretch the field, and he will provide a big boost in that facet. Rookie running back Kyren Williams, who broke his foot in offseason workouts and then suffered a high ankle sprain late in training camp, could resume practicing in the near future - the team seems to think he can contribute in 2022.

Los Angeles Rams defeat the Cincinnati Bengals 23-20 to win the NFL Super Bowl LVI football game at SoFi Stadium in Inglewood. Photo by Keith Birmingham/MediaNews Group/Pasadena Star-News via Getty Images

4 - Find a pass rush specialist

The Rams will face a gauntlet of QB’s over the second half stretch - the likes of Tom Brady, Patrick Mahomes, Geno Smith (yes, he’s been stellar so far), Derek Carr, Aaron Rodgers, Russell Wilson, and Justin Herbert.

While the rotation of Justin Hollins and Terrell Lewis opposite Leonard Floyd has been solid, LA’s defense would be much better off pairing a high level pass rusher with Aaron Donald.

Can the Rams land a big fish like Brian Burns, who’s only 24 years old and could be a building block for the future?

Does LA need to be more realistic and instead set their sights on Josh Uche (Patriots), Bradley Chubb (Broncos), or Jonathan Greenard (Texans).

San Francisco 49ers v Carolina Panthers Photo by Eakin Howard/Getty Images

5 - Limit the turnovers on offense

The Rams head into the bye week on a 3-week streak you’d never like to see out of your quarterback - turnovers resulting in defensive touchdowns.

Los Angeles’ offense has been limited, and it’s extremely difficult for them to overcome free points for the other team - it’s also putting a lot of pressure on LA’s defense to be perfect.

As he did in 2021, Matthew Stafford is again leading the NFL in interceptions with 8. He’s also lost three fumbles on the year - one against the 49ers and two versus the Cowboys. You just expect a 14-year veteran to take better care of the football.