Last season was a rough one, to say the least, for the Los Angeles Rams, as they posted the worst record for a defending champion in NFL history. There are few silver linings to look to following a season as poor as last year’s campaign for the Rams, but the reality is that it does not get much worse than what this team went through.
Throughout the season, the offensive-line went through what seemed like a different starting five every single game, setting an NFL record with 12 straight games with a different combination of players up front. Such unfortunate circumstances are, quite literally, unprecedented, making it almost impossible for the line to work towards any sort of chemistry and continuity.
When the offensive-line struggles in football, the entire offense struggles, opening the window for injuries/wear and tear at a multitude of key positions. Starting quarterback Matthew Stafford dealt with concussions multiple times throughout the year, which then led to superstar receiver Cooper Kupp getting injured on an errant pass from back-up quarterback John Wolford.
There is a legitimate domino effect when it comes to a historically oft-injured offensive line, which ultimately led to the worst offensive output under head coach Sean McVay. The offense seemed to lack any sort of rhythm all season long, with turnover and a lack of a consistent running game as the plagues. Unfortunate circumstances given the performance of the defense, as Raheem Morris and his unit only gave up 22.1 points per game last season.
Nevertheless, a season sending before the postseason will allow the injured ones to recoup and rehab for an extended period of time and, hopefully, lead to a healthier season. Now, let’s get to the on the field part of the 2023-2024 Rams.
Given the fact that the NFL Draft has yet to commence, there are still some names that may (and will) be added to this tentative depth chart:
QB: Matthew Stafford
RB: Cam Akers, Kyren Williams, Ronnie Rivers
WR: Cooper Kupp, Allen Robinson, Van Jefferson, Tutu Atwell, Ben Skowronek, Lance McCutcheon, Allen Trammell
TE: Tyler Higbee, Brycen Hopkins, Hunter Long
G: Coleman Shelton, Logan Bruss, Treymaine Anchrum Jr.
T: Rob Havenstein, Alaric Jackson, Joe Noteboom, AJ Arcuri, Zach Thomas
C: Brian Allen
At first glance, there are some things that definitely need to be addressed in terms of overall depth, all of which should be taken care of during the NFL Draft in April. For instance, Matthew Stafford is the only quarterback under contract at the moment, so the Rams will most likely draft a QB with one of their 11 selections to keep the back-up spot nice and cheap for the time being.
Furthermore, there is only one center on the roster in Brian Allen, so that will need to be addressed as well through the draft. On top of that, the team could use an additional guard to help with overall depth, even though listed tackle Alaric Jackson has proved he can play 4/5 spots up front.
Everywhere else has talent that can be impactful in this league, with the receiver position being the unit’s strong-point heading into the new campaign. Young wide receivers Tutu Atwell and Ben Skowronek got extremely valuable experience playing in much more prominent roles last season, which should bode well for the young speedster in Atwell and the big bodies Skowronek.
Running back Cam Akers caught fire at the end of the season after a rocky start, rushing for 512 yards and 6 touchdowns in the final six games of the year. That positive momentum should inject confidence into both Cam Akers and play-caller Sean McVay, and in an offense that relies heavily on play-fakes, establishing the running game is vital if the team wants to return to the high scoring ways fans have become accustomed to.
Head coach Sean McVay elected to return for a reason, and even went as far as to say that he is in it for the long haul. Last season was tough on McVay, he was so used to dominating and rarely saw adversity which, in turn, led to some rough times for the youngest coach in the NFL. However, on the flip side, McVay does not want to go through that again, so I fully expect a completely revitalized and incredibly motivated Sean McVay next season.
When it is all said and done, it is all going to come down to the performance and overall health of the offensive-line next season, as the more games they play together, the more chemistry they can build. The more chemistry a unit has usually leads to more success in such a cohesive position group, so it is clear as to why games played together is so critical. If that group can stay healthy and rack up games together, look out for this 2023 version of the Rams offense.