This offseason has been an eventful one for the Los Angeles Rams, as has often been the case since Sean McVay became the head coach. The Rams haven’t pulled off any blockbuster trades yet but nevertheless we’ve once again seen notable players added (like Allen Robinson) and lost (Von Miller) during the spring and summer months.
Based on what we’ve seen happen since the Super Bowl win, what could transpire between now and the next postseason?
These are five things I expect to happen in 2022 for the L.A. Rams. Call these “bold predictions” or just call them random thoughts, these represent a broad view of the near future for the Rams. Then I’ll end each segment with a question for the Turf Show Times community.
Odell Beckham WILL be re-signed
I believe that despite so much speculation about what else OBJ could do this year, he’ll be back with the Rams midway through the year to make a similar impact as he did in 2021. Beckham had 305 yards over eight regular season games, but also scored five touchdowns on only 27 receptions.
With Robinson added to the mix, a healthy receiving corps for L.A. in the second half of the year could make Matthew Stafford’s weapons the most dangerous in the NFL.
Question for TST: How important do you see OBJ to the Rams’ repeat chances?
Second-year players will step up and make a big impact
We already know that Ernest Jones played extremely well as a rookie and hopefully he can improve for his second campaign in 2022. But apart from Jones, L.A. got virtually zero production from the rest of last year’s rookie class.
However, I think 2022 will be different as Jacob Harris, Bobby Brown, Robert Rochell and Chris Garrett will carve out important roles for themselves this year and make an impact as those positions (TE2, DT, CB2, Edge) all need players to step up. What about Tutu Atwell? I see him more as a “Bonus” this season if he is able to contribute at a high level on offense or special teams.
Question for TST: Which second-year Rams (besides Jones) will have the biggest season?
The Rams will have a worse record, but will make the playoffs
Have you seen the Rams’ schedule? It’s a gauntlet of stacked teams from the AFC West, the NFC West (obviously), and some other tough teams like the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and Las Vegas Raiders. The L.A. Rams went 12-5 in the regular season last year but won five of their last six and then four playoff games, giving McVay a win in 9 of his most recent 10 games as a head coach.
With the targets on their backs for the 2022 campaign, the Rams will go 11-6. And that’s okay. L.A. won the Super Bowl last season without a bye week in the playoffs and they could still run it back with a worse record than last season.
Question for TST: What’s your Rams 2022 record prediction?
Cam Akers will bounce back and become a top-tier running back
After watching him play so well in his rookie season two years ago, I am confident that Cam Akers will bounce back in 2022 despite missing most of 2021 with an Achilles tear. I know he came back in the 2021 playoffs and that his stats were absolutely terrible, but I believe that was a team issue.
Akers had 67 carries for 172 yards in four postseason games, only averaging 2.57 yards per carry and never rushing for a touchdown despite a heavy workload. However, Akers did have eight catches for 76 yards, a positive sign about being a dual threat as he only caught 11 passes during his entire rookie campaign.
Let’s give Akers a break about his stats at that point in time: The offensive line wasn’t blocking well, these were playoff defenses, and he hadn’t played football all year long since Akers tore his Achilles prior to training camp.
Not only will Akers return to form, he will finally get his opportunity to be a big-time back for a full season and I predict he will join the upper echelon of players at his position, potentially even pushing for one of those coveted All-Pro spots.
Question for TST: How many yards will Cam Akers rush for next season?
Jalen Ramsey misses Pro Bowl for first time since his rookie season
Ramsey has been absolutely one of the most dominant cornerbacks in the NFL since he entered the league as a top-five pick in 2016 with the Jacksonville Jaguars. He was fantastic as a rookie but didn’t earn a Pro Bowl nod that year. Ramsey was perhaps the NFL’s best cornerback in year two, helping the Jaguars have the number one defense and reach the AFC Championship, earning Pro Bowl and first-team All-Pro honors.
Ramsey was traded to the Rams one-and-a-half seasons later and he’s since made first-team All-Pro in each of his two full seasons in L.A. There is little reason to think that Ramsey won’t once again be one of the league’s best options as a number one corner, but is he as dominant as he has been in the past?
I’m afraid that I’m starting to get a little worried about Ramsey. Especially as the NFL’s wide receiver talent continues to shine, including in the NFC West with opponents like DK Metcalf, Deebo Samuel, DeAndre Hopkins, Tyler Lockett, and Marquise Brown.
Ramsey gave up some big plays in the playoffs against Mike Evans and Ja’Marr Chase (I’m not going to count the TD he gave up against Tee Higgins in the Super Bowl since that was a blatant penalty) at critical times. Maybe opposing teams will start to challenge him more and we’ll see that he’s not as good as we thought.
It’s a scary proposition, especially since L.A. doesn’t have the best depth at cornerback, but worth monitoring throughout the year. That means 2022 could be Ramsey’s biggest challenge of his career so far.