Coming off of the second Super Bowl in franchise history, the 2022-2023 Los Angeles Rams had lofty expectations as the defending champions.
To put this as simply as possible, the Rams have failed to meet those expectations, putting out one of the most disappointing products for a reigning champion in NFL history. The offense has been horrible, as it looks more like an offense reminiscent of the 7-9 record days in the Jeff Fisher era that Rams fans will never forget.
Not only has the offense under-performed mightily, but the injuries to the squad have begun to pile up. Today, Coach McVay announced that Alaric Jackson is done for the season, a player who missed last week’s game but was performing well at the left tackle spot when he was on the field. Guard Chandler Brewer is also going to miss 4-6 weeks, which will lead to the Rams fielding their 11th different offensive line combination in 11 weeks.
Quarterback Matthew Stafford missed Sunday’s game against the Arizona Cardinals due to concussion protocol, which led to, in almost a snowball effect, star receiver Cooper Kupp getting injured on an errant pass from back-up QB John Wolford in the game Stafford missed. Kupp will head to IR due to a high-ankle sprain, which will more than likely end his season unless the team somehow flips a switch and goes on a magical run.
Without Cooper Kupp, a man who has accounted for 34% of the Rams offensive yardage, this offense may look even worse than it has through nine games. On top of that, L.A. just lost two more offensive linemen for an extended period of time, a group that has been the weakness of the team due to the lack of continuity and overall talent throughout the room.
Matthew Stafford has endured a ton of punishment this season, which has forced him to miss a game for the Rams since joining the team last season. With an 11th offensive line combo, the hits would inevitably pile up even more, putting the health and safety of Stafford at risk. It would not surprise me if Stafford was shut down for the season given all of the circumstances and, to be honest, I would not blame the team for doing that.
Sometimes in the NFL, injuries completely derail a season and the year becomes a wash due to the sheer unluckiness surrounding a team. Through Sean McVay’s tenure, the Rams have had solid injury luck compared to other teams, so a year like this was bound to happen at some point in his career. It is rare that a coach goes through his career without at least one season where the team is bitten by the injury-bug, and this bite has been a sizable one.
Down the stretch, the Rams can really only afford to lose one more game to have a shot at the postseason, which is highly unlikely given they just lost the only player on offense who was producing on a consistent basis. If the Rams lose this week to New Orleans, it is time to pull the plug on the season and focus on the development of some of the young players on the team.
L.A. should allow Bryce Perkins to start and try and prove that he can be a serviceable back-up QB, because John Wolford has enough film out there to show that he is not. If Perkins is not servicable, then finding a back-up QB in the off-season should be a focus of Snead and McVay.
Players like Lance McCutcheon and Tutu Atwell should get opportunities to take a majority of the offensive snaps, as well as DBs Decobie Durant, Robert Rochell, and Quentin Lake on the defensive side of the ball. The rest of this season should serve as development and experience for the young, skill-position players that have not gotten the chance to fail/succeed in a regular season football game.
The offensive line is the group that I fully expect to be revamped and reevaluated in the off-season, mainly from a depth perspective. The Rams currently hold 10 draft picks in the 2023 draft, with their 2nd and 3rd round picks being the most critical (1st round pick was traded for Stafford). If the team continues to struggle and finishes with a record of 6-11 or 5-12, those 2nd and 3rd round picks will be high in those rounds, which the team WILL spend on offensive linemen that can come in and compete for a starting spot immediately.
Out of those 10 picks, if I was Snead and McVay, about 5-6 of those should be offensive linemen. Although that sounds like a lot, where else do the Rams truly NEED help? Offensive linemen, offensive linemen, offensive linemen, should be the team’s top three priorities following the season.
Let’s face it Rams fans, this season is an absolute wash, and the rest of the year should be predicated on development and health of the star players on the roster. Hopefully, McVay and co. realize this, and turn their focus to the 2023 off-season.