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Rams need reload, not rebuild

With Matthew Stafford back again, L.A.’s roster is ready for another run

Los Angeles Rams v Seattle Seahawks Photo by Steph Chambers/Getty Images

The Los Angeles Rams went 5-12 the year after winning a Super Bowl and Sean McVay might bail on the very stars he won a title with. With rumors swirling around the NFL about a retirement, we can debate McVay’s commitment to football all we want. That has been a lively discussion on social media since the score went final in Seattle last night.

Being considered lesser than Kyle Shanahan for refusing to face adversity should be enough to make every LA fan sick to their stomachs. If McVay does retire, that would be something else the 49ers fanbase has to brag about in a one-sided rivalry. Now, I’m not going to speculate on Sean McVay’s situation as there’s been enough of that going around.

What I will address is a dreaded word that’s popped up and designed to make a sports fan’s skin crawl: REBUILD. I can’t believe I just used that naughty word, shame on me. But is it really necessary when talking about the Rams?

Let’s look at the ugly side of things first.

The Rams finished 2022 being outscored by 77 points, including 121-71 (-50) in the fourth quarter alone. They suffered the most losses ever by a defending Super Bowl champ and missed the postseason for just the second time in the McVay era. This was also a season in which the Rams saw stars including Matthew Stafford, Cooper Kupp, Allen Robinson, Aaron Donald, etc. miss extensive time due to injuries. For the year, LA ended a miserable campaign with 16 on IR and 24 over the course of the season.

Through all the ugliness of poor play and injuries, there have been a few positives to takeaway from this year. For one, the Rams didn’t roll over and die due to all the adversity they faced. Instead they played as hard as they possibly could and that says something about the coaching staff in place. Say what you want about them but they helped LA stay competitive.

Then there have been a couple of much-maligned players who’ve flashed their potential and made the fans hate them a little bit less. I’ll shine the spotlight on Cam Akers first as he went from trade block to workhorse back in a matter of weeks. In the last three games, Akers totaled 345 yards on the ground and became the first LA running back to hit the 100-yard mark in three-straight games since Todd Gurley in 2015. Over the second half of the season, he’s returned to his rookie form and that should have everyone excited.

Assuming Cam is back to his old self and I believe he is, LA has one less position to worry about this offseason. His renewed confidence and improvements in pass blocking will be something to build upon in ‘23. The Achilles injury that sidelined Akers for most of last season had to have bothered him early on which would explain his poor production. I was ready to see the Florida State product gone but he renewed my faith considerably. So I hope his upcoming Campaign will be a strong encore.

From the moment he was drafted, Tutu Atwell has been universally hated by Los Angeles. While many fans have complained that center Creed Humphrey would’ve been the more logical fit, the Rams didn’t draft him so you whiners can get the hell over it. Atwell went from a healthy scratch to filling in because of all the injuries to the receiving corps.

He’s flashed big play ability, having a 54 and a 62-yard catch in his limited contributions. In his sophomore year, Tutu finished with 332 total yards and a pair of touchdowns off 27 offensive touches, averaging 12.3 yards per touch. As long as McVay sticks around next season and includes him more in the offense, Atwell should be a fun gadget for Stafford to work with. The versatility he’s brought will have the offensive coaching staff licking their chops.

Finally, let’s get defensive. I’m sure everyone will be doing that in the comments but for a unit that has had its fair share of problems at times, there’s still plenty to work with. Bobby Wagner is an ageless wonder at age 32 and has been the most consistent player on this unit. The future HOFer finished his first season in LA with 140 total tackles, six sacks and two interceptions. He better return just to get revenge on the team that unceremoniously gave up on him.

Last but certainly not least, Jalen Ramsey has endured a rough “down” year that let to many deeming the All-Pro “washed”. Ramsey hasn’t been his usual dominant self that we’ve grown accustomed to. Yet you wouldn’t know it by the way he played in a meaningless game. He made himself known from the game’s very first play.

Guess someone was seeking revenge on DK Metcalf after allowing the Seattle star to catch the game-winning touchdown on him in the first matchup. The coverage on the play was perfect and Ramsey didn’t resemble a “washed” player to me. He got his second pick late in the third quarter.

Jalen also saved the Rams from losing in regulation on this play:

There is uncertainty surrounding the return of Aaron Donald but Wagner and Ramsey are solid pieces to keep that unit intact in the event that he does retire. However, the snarky comments from fans across the league will continue as the Rams enter the offseason earlier than expected.

Thank you Chargers fan Ryan, how kind of you to let us know. I’m sure the Rams will be looking forward to hanging that up on a banner next to their two Super Bowl championship ones at SoFi. Please come back to rub it in my face if the Chargers ever win one.

Anyways, there’s so much for McVay or perhaps a new coaching staff to work with. What this team needs is an overhaul to the offensive line and help in the secondary. Build up the depth, get way better injury luck (time to sell your soul again LA) and this team will be a contender again.

After a hellish season, I’m not ready to quit on the Rams and neither should Sean McVay.