The Los Angeles Rams are 3-3. It’s not the start the team expected heading into the season, but as defending-Super Bowl champions they have a lot to play for. The second half stretch allows a chance to show they are still contenders amongst the NFC conference.
Which individuals will help them turn things around, and which are a concern moving forward?
Jalen Ramsey, CB
The first few games out of the gate were rough for Ramsey. He was beat deep multiple times against the Bills and had an up-and-down performance against the Falcons - but the star corner turned it around and is playing at an extremely high level.
Cooper Kupp, WR
Kupp already has 56 receptions for 607 yards and 4 TD’s through the air. He also has another 41 yards and a TD on the ground.
Last year’s Super Bowl MVP is on pace for over a 150 receptions and 1,700 yards - but hopefully Allen Robinson or Van Jefferson prove to be capable secondary threats and carve out some of his volume in the second half.
Bobby Wagner, MLB
He’s everything that was advertised when LA signed him away from their division rival Seahawks. Wagner has also had a positive influence on Ernest Jones, who’s playing well in his second year.
Ben Skowronek, WR/FB
From a seventh round draft selection last year to one of the more important pieces on the 2022 offense.
Skowronek’s versatility and willingness as a blocker has opened up opportunities for an otherwise stagnant offense. Where would this offense be if the team never deployed its package with Skowronek at FB?
Alaric Jackson, OL
The second year UDFA is playing as well as any individual on the offensive line, and he this is his opportunity to grab the starting LT job and never look back.
Derion Kendrick, CB
As early as Week 3 the Rams were without Troy Hill, David Long, Cobie Durant, and Jordan Fuller. Being that short-handed in the secondary could have been catastrophic, but rookie Derion Kendrick stepped up in a big way.
According to PFF tracking, Kendrick has been targeted a team-leading 31 times (almost a full game worth of attempts for a QB), allowing 19 completions for 254 yards and a touchdown. 57 of these yards came on a catch and run by Deebo Samuel that easily could have been an interception or pass deflection by the rookie.
Tutu Atwell, WR
Yes, the stat sheet will only show that Atwell has one reception for 54 yards and a carry for 9 yards. The second-year speedster has had very limited opportunities on offense, but he’s looked promising when he’s been on the field. The Rams must involve Atwell more often in the second half of the season.
Cam Akers, RB
Akers has been a favorite of Sean McVay since LA drafted the back in the second round, but the two have obviously had a falling out.
Akers’ days with the team are likely numbered, and it’s tough to watch the dilemma unfold. The Rams needed someone to step up out of their running back room, but Akers squandered his potential.
Cam Akers missed this hole pic.twitter.com/ZxlArCHiXj— PointsBet Sportsbook (@PointsBetUSA) October 9, 2022
Rob Havenstein, RT
Havenstein is the only healthy player out of the original starting five linemen for Los Angeles - but his play hasn’t lived up to his normal standard so far in 2022. Sure, he’s been asked to block Nick Bosa, Micah Parsons, and Brian Burns, though with Andrew Whitworth gone Havenstein is now supposed to lead by example.
Justin Hollins & Terrell Lewis, OLB
Hollins and Lewis have not flashed much ability to rush the passer, and it could force LA to look for outside help in this regard. Lewis started the season off playing much better than Hollins, but his play has fallen off in recent weeks.
Joe Noteboom, LT
The Rams re-signed Noteboom to a sizeable contract this offseason, and they effectively have to keep him around through 2023. Could Alaric Jackson seize the opportunity at left tackle, forcing Noteboom to kick inside next year when he returns from a season-ending Achilles injury?
Jordan Fuller, DB
Fuller went from defensive captain and “green dot” guy in 2021 to the team’s third safety and special teams contributor this year. It’s a significant fall from grace for the once-promising safety, especially considering Taylor Rapp hasn’t exactly looked like a Pro Bowler.
Matthew Stafford, QB
The offensive line has obviously been a problem, and the receiving corps has left a lot to be desired at times. The Rams’ signal caller has been faced with a high degree of difficulty this season.
But high level quarterbacks are supposed to elevate the performance of those around him, and Matthew Stafford has been as much of a liability as a force for good so far this season.
Stafford’s 8 interceptions lead the league through six games, and he’s also lost 3 fumbles so far. LA had a chance against their division rival 49ers, but Stafford missed a number of throws in the red zone - those missed opportunities could prove costly as the playoff picture comes into focus.