For the first time since the Sean McVay era began back in 2017, the Los Angeles Rams do not have lofty expectations. The Super Bowl aspirations and the all-in mentality seem to be a thing of the past, with fans seemingly conceding that the team may not be very good this season.
Given the state of the roster, it is easy to write these guys off and go along with this narrative that the Rams will be a bottom-tier football team in the 2023-2024 season. The only real veterans on the roster are Matthew Stafford, Cooper Kupp, Aaron Donald, Tyler Higbee, and Rob Havenstein. Past those guys, it is a bunch of 2nd and 3rd year men who are still trying to establish themselves in the NFL, something pretty new for the Rams.
In theory, given the losses of such talents like Jalen Ramsey, Bobby Wagner, Nick Scott, and Matt Gay, the Rams should take a step back in terms of overall success. With that being said, there is another way to view it, a much more optimistic outlook that can give the more hopeful fan, well, more hope.
Even though the Rams roster is young and unproven, these are guys, as said earlier, who are trying to make their mark on the league. The two biggest losses the Rams suffered in the off-season were Jalen Ramsey and Bobby Wagner, two players that, if they retired today, would most likely be Hall of Famers with all of their accomplishments and accolades. A majority of players on this year’s squad do not posses these things, giving them more to play for/work towards on a day-to-day basis with the team.
Youngsters like on defense Ernest Jones, Cobie Durant, and Jordan Fuller will have a shot to prove that the can be leaders alongside the legendary Aaron Donald, something they all have not had to worry about in their time in the league thus far. That can go one of two ways; Either they embrace the roles and allow the duties of becoming leaders make them better players, or they will succumb to the pressures that go along with being a team leader. Whichever way it goes, the experience and answers found will help guide the trajectory of the team.
The casual fan may not know all of the guys who take the field for the Rams this year, but they do know the head coach in Sean McVay. Sean McVay is one of, if not the, best coaches in the entire NFL. He took what was a laughing stock of a franchise into legitimate Super Bowl contenders in a single off-season, so this “re-tool” type of roster is not some sort of uncharted territory for the youngest head coach in the NFL. There is a reason the best of the best get paid the big bucks, and I do consider McVay to be among the best of the best.
The offensive-line is healthy and has much more overall depth than last season, which should give the offense as a whole a massive boost all year long. Most of the experience is on the offense, so I fully expect to see the side of the ball that McVay’s expertise lies to be able to put up the high amounts of points per game that we had become accustomed to seeing year in and year out.
The defense, however, will be much more reliant on guys stepping up and proving that they can be solid players in this league for years to come. Aaron Donald will head the group and, well, he will dominate as Aaron Donald does. Realistically, the defense will probably take a step back next season but, with the way the NFL is played nowadays, you really don’t NEED some dominant defense to win the championship. Hell, the Chiefs won the Super Bowl despite their defense giving up 35 points.
The underrated aspect of what the Chiefs do defensively is their timely stops/takeaways. It seemed time and time again that whenever Kansas City really needed a stop or really needed a turnover, they got it. That is what I expect the Rams defensive unit to strive for this season, timely plays in timely moments. The defense does not have to hold people to less than 20 points a game to win football games, all they need is those splash plays that can really wing the outcomes of football games.
In my eyes, this Rams team is not as far off as some of the media, or even some Rams fans, are making it seem. They have the QB, they have the superstar playmakers on both sides, they have the young hungry players all over who are ready to prove themselves, and, most importantly, they have Sean McVay. Try not to worry too much Rams fans, this team could end up pleasantly surprising.