In the season premiere of Behind the Grind, the Los Angeles Rams give the world a glimpse of their offseason program and their preparation for the upcoming season. Fans get an inside look at conversations, meetings, and team-bonding moments as the organization embraces a remodel, adapt to moving parts, and seek a renewed energy for the 2023 league season.
What did we learn from the first episode?
1. Snead admits to prioritizing healthy salary cap moving forward.
In February and March, Les Snead coined this off-season as a remodel, not a rebuild. However, in episode one of the miniseries, Snead confessed that Los Angeles needed to take a few steps back to preserve the health and sustainability of the team’s current and future salary cap.
The lockers of Allen Robinson, Bobby Wagner, Leonard Floyd, and Jalen Ramsey are now no more.
What remains to be seen is how Snead will use the salary cap space for 2024.
2. Aubrey Pleasant’s second stint with LA will be seamless.
After four years (2017-2020) with the LA Rams as the cornerbacks coach, Pleasant left for the Detroit Lions to join general manager (former Ram) Brad Holmes. In Detroit, he was tabbed as the defensive backs coach / passing game coordinator. Two years later, Pleasant is reunited with Sean McVay AND Raheem Morris. This will be Pleasant’s first year with Raheem, but the two worked together in Washington in the early 2010s. Pleasant admitted he has had the opportunity to expand his knowledge and craft, making him a better communicator and teacher of the game.
3. Ernest Jones is prime candidate for green dot responsibilities.
In his press conference, Jones preached about all 11 “hats” swarming to the ball to make tackles and plays. Based on the youth and inexperience across the defense other than Aaron Donald and Jordan Fuller, it is safe to assume that Jones will be the Rams voice for the defense. The choice makes sense since Ernest had the opportunity to learn and work alongside of Bobby Wagner, who was tasked with the responsibility in 2022,
4. Mike LaFleur could be the key to unlocking 2020 draft picks.
LaFleur figures to be a significant upgrade over Liam Coen. His objective is to resurrect an offense that helped take the organization to a Super Bowl in 2021, but stalled out in 2022. LaFleur has identified Van Jefferson and Cam Akers as two big components of rejuvenating the offense. LaFleur finds Van Jefferson as a weapon that can be used at all levels of the field, something we haven’t quite seen in his young career. In his second season, he was the wideout used to stretch the field vertically. But now with Robert Woods, Odell Beckham Jr, and Allen Robinson no longer in the picture, Van Jefferson is in line for a lot more targets…if LaFleur can come up with play designs that spread the ball into other players’ hands other than Cooper Kupp.
5. 2022 will be a blessing for this 2023 team.
In the Rams third team meeting, McVay informed the team that the 2022 season will be a blessing because of the adversity they faced together. McVay’s words aren’t just fluff and there is a lot of truth behind them. With young players having to step into meaningful snaps last year, LA has a better feel for who is ready for NFL action - players like Quentin Lake, Russ Yeast, Kyren Williams, Michael Hoecht, and Cobie Durant to name a few.
In addition, the Rams core leaders of Sean McVay, Matthew Stafford, Cooper Kupp, and Aaron Donald have now all experienced losing together. But all four also know how to bring out the best in those around them. With a young roster, there will be plenty of hunger to prove oneself day in and day out and LA’s leadership figures to keep them in check.