For the Los Angeles Rams, the offseason started just as all 32 teams wish they could start it each year: as the defending NFL champions.
About 21 years after the team’s previous championship, with two unsuccessful trips to the Super Bowl in between, the Rams spent five offseasons of the Sean McVay era putting together a roster that would be able to get the job done the next time they reached the postseason. Following a disappointing loss to the Green Bay Packers to end their bid for the Super Bowl in 2020, Los Angeles general manager Les Snead and McVay had seen enough.
The team traded two first-round picks for the rights to Matthew Stafford and the ability to part with Jared Goff, and really there isn’t much more to be said about the Rams’ 2021 offseason to explain why they won the Super Bowl.
More was actually done for the team after the season started than anything that happened between trading for Stafford and trading for Sony Michel; the midseason acquisitions of Odell Beckham, Jr. and Von Miller got L.A. over the top and helped Stafford, McVay win their first championship together.
Now without OBJ and Miller, can Stafford and McVay win their second? Apparently there are not as many believers as you’d expect, as the Rams only have the fifth-best odds to win the Super Bowl, according to DraftKings Sportsbook. The Buffalo Bills are the current favorites to take Super Bowl 57.
We know how the Rams respond to disappointing finishes. How did they respond to winning the Super Bowl?
Notable Losses - WR OBJ (for now), Edge Von Miller, NT Sebastian Joseph-Day, RG Austin Corbett, WR Robert Woods, CB Darious Williams, P Johnny Hekker, RB Sony Michel
Before you can restock the shelves, you have to eat a little bit. And Les Snead got hungry and had little choice but to cut weight.
The Rams traded Woods to the Titans, not necessarily showing belief that he would be as viable of a threat as his replacement. The team has similarly not shown faith in OBJ’s return from a torn ACL either, though that could still change.
The Rams reportedly made an offer to Miller but he chose to sign with the Bills instead. That’s a hole that has yet to be filled.
What is more clear is who will be playing the roles of the other departed players: Coleman Shelton at right guard, Cam Akers at running back, Greg Gaines at nose tackle, Troy Hill at cornerback, and Riley Dixon at punter.
Those should all be adequate replacements, but making sure that Stafford has enough weapons and that Leonard Floyd has a pass-rushing partner should be priorities that still exist for Snead and McVay.
Notable additions - WR Allen Robinson, CB Troy Hill, ILB Bobby Wagner, P Riley Dixon
It’s hard to feel especially burdened by the losses because Allen Robinson and Bobby Wagner are better free agent additions than most teams will see in 2022.
It’s unclear to what degree Wagner will impact the Rams defense schematically as he’s by far the best inside linebacker that McVay has ever had. We may learn something about both McVay and Wagner over the course of the season.
Robinson, by all accounts in training camp, is an upgrade at receiver from OBJ and potentially over Woods too. A healthy season by Allen Robinson could result in career numbers for him and better efficiency for Stafford, as well as maybe continued opportunities for Cooper Kupp to be the NFL’s most productive threat.
2022 NFL Draft - G Logan Bruss, CB Decobie Durant, RB Kyren Williams, S Quentin Lake, CB Derion Kendrick, LB Daniel Hardy, DB Russ Yeast, OT A.J. Arcuri
As usual, the Rams will not rely much on their rookie class. No player drafted this year figures to have a starting role on the team, while at best Bruss could be one of the top reserves at guard, Williams could get a few touches over the course of the season, and maybe Hardy will win some reps opposite of Floyd.
Derion Kendrick read that route perfectly and nearly had himself a house call. Just couldn't hold on and make the pick.— Cameron DaSilva (@camdasilva) August 14, 2022
Really good play though
One or more of Snead’s four picks at defensive back could also end up contributing, but they won’t be on the field early in the season.
Coaching Changes - OC Liam Coen replaces OC Kevin O’Connell, Chris Shula replaces Ejiro Evero as DB/Secondary coach
There were a number of coaching changes, none bigger than needing to replace O’Connell after he left to be the head coach of the Vikings. O’Connell also took offensive assistant Chris O’Hara and tight ends/passing game coordinator Wes Phillips with him.
Thomas Brown switched from RBs to TEs with Ra’Shaad Samples taking over RB coaching duties.
Coen, a Rams assistant under McVay for three years, returned to L.A. after one season as the Kentucky offensive coordinator to have the same role with the Rams.
Evero is now the defensive coordinator with the Broncos, and he took assistants Marcus Dixon and Dwayne Stukes with him, too. McVay promoted Lance Schulters for a greater role coaching the defense.
The Rams also brought back Greg Olson, a longtime NFL offensive coordinator, as a senior offensive assistant.
We should not expect any dramatic changes to the Rams’ coaching style or schemes, but certainly more new faces, and given the number of McVay coaches getting promoted around the league, we could see the churn continue in 2023.
Now that we know how it started for the Rams following their second Super Bowl championship the next question is ... how is it going? We will cover that next time. But the odds are looking good.