2023 is shaping up to be a pivotal year for the Los Angeles Rams and the course for the franchise moving forward.
Expectations were high for Sean McVay and the Rams last season coming off a victory in Super Bowl LVI. While the team lost Von Miller, Andrew Whitworth, and others, they also brought in big names like Bobby Wagner and Allen Robinson. LA was supposed to contend for a second-straight world championship but instead fell on their face en route to a 5-12 record.
A lot went wrong for the Rams in 2022, including an unprecedented frequency of injuries along the offensive line. Cooper Kupp, Aaron Donald, and Matthew Stafford were shut down just after the season’s mid-point—and the Rams’ plan to run it back quickly morphed into limping towards the finish line.
It’s fair to expect positive regression in terms of injuries and expect a more stable performance in the trenches. A full, healthy offseason for Stafford could realistically provide an opportunity to build proper chemistry with receiving targets like Robinson and young speedster Tutu Atwell. LA failed to replace Miller’s pass rushing production last year, and they now seem to have a renewed appreciation for elite talent at edge defender—the single biggest need on the roster heading into the offseason.
A successful 2023 would right the ship for McVay and the Rams, and a winning year would reinforce confidence in the state of the roster that Les Snead has constructed.
But another down year could leave the Rams on the brink of collapse—if they aren’t at that point already. LA has announced that they plan to mutually part ways with Wagner, and star cornerback Jalen Ramsey is one of the hottest names on the NFL trade market. Rumors are also circulating that Los Angeles is contemplating moving on from OLB Leonard Floyd, someone who has recorded no fewer than nine sacks in each of his three seasons with the Rams but has produced spurts.
What does the Rams defense look like with three of its top four players from a year ago no longer on the field? Can LA surround Aaron Donald with enough talent to make the most of the final years of his historic career? Moving on from Ramsey leaves them with just Robert Rochell, Cobie Durant, Derion Kendrick, and Grant Haley at corner. The secondary is also thin at safety with Nick Scott and Taylor Rapp headed towards free agency—Jordan Fuller, Russ Yeast, and Quentin Lake are the notable names that remain. Without Floyd at edge defender the Rams would be down to converted interior lineman Michael Hoecht, second-year OLB Daniel Hardy, former UDFA Keir Thomas, and not much else.
For a roster that was famously as star-studded as any across the NFL, the Rams seem to be shedding the building blocks of it’s championship roster at a rapid pace.
How much longer will Aaron Donald be in horns—one or two more seasons at most? Can the Rams trust Stafford long-term, or was his injury-riddled 2022 season a sign that his productive career is coming to an end? Other familiar faces like Cooper Kupp won’t be around forever either.
With last season aside, all Sean McVay has done since he’s been with the Rams is win. 2023 allows the still-young head coach an opportunity to re-design how he wants to return to his winning ways and how the team may be structured moving forward. LA is trying to thread the needle between remaining competitive and building for the future, but they walk a thin line that could easily leave them on the brink of collapse.
Will we remember this next season as the year the Rams got back on track, or the end of an era before the roster transforms into something completely new and different? Time will tell.