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Rams suffered epic collapse in this offensive stat in 2022

How to avoid third downs but not having the worst second down offense in the NFL

Los Angeles Rams Offseason Workout Photo by Jayne Kamin-Oncea/Getty Images

The Los Angeles Rams hired Mike LaFleur to replace Liam Coen as the offensive coordinator this year, and though Sean McVay will still be mostly responsible for the offense, one of LaFleur’s most important jobs will be getting the Rams to do better on third downs than they did in 2022.

But perhaps more importantly, LaFleur will want to help the Rams avoid third down more often than they did in 2022.

As noted by Warren Sharp on Twitter this week, the L.A. Rams ranked fifth in avoiding third downs in 2021 en route to winning the Super Bowl. With Matthew Stafford at quarterback, Cooper Kupp winning Offensive Player of the Year, and a rotation of talent at receiver that included Robert Woods before Odell Beckham, Jr., the Rams ranked seventh in points and ninth in yards.

But with only a half-season of Stafford, a half-season of Kupp, no Woods and no OBJ and no Andrew Whitworth last year, the Rams fell to 27th in points scored. They were also 25th in avoiding third downs, constantly putting L.A.’s offense in a position that they don’t want to be in next season.

When you see the team that ranked first, the Chiefs, you see that they have been to three of the last four Super Bowls, winning twice. The Eagles ranked seventh.

But also, two teams that got much better in avoiding third downs last year, the Giants went from 31st to sixth and the Jaguars went from 25th to fourth, hired new offensive-minded head coaches in 2022: Brian Daboll and Doug Pederson, respectively.

Daniel Jones was probably no different at quarterback, but he had better coaching. Trevor Lawrence must have improved in year two, but it didn’t hurt to change out Urban Meyer for Pederson.

Now the move is up to LaFleur, with Coen having gone back to the college ranks with Kentucky.

The Rams had 205 third downs in 2021, and they went 92-of-143 (64%) passing, 9.7 yards per attempt and 74 first downs achieved. In 2022, the Rams had 212 third downs, but went 82-of-134 passing (61%) and only averaged 6.7 yards per attempt with 53 first downs.

L.A.’s rushing stats were actually better on third down in 2022 than they were in 2021, but it’s through the air that Super Bowl teams are born.

And that’s just how the Rams did when they got to third down. As this stat emphasizes, the L.A. Rams were horrible on first and second down compared to other teams. In 2021, Stafford had a passer rating of 112.5 on first down and 90.4 on second down, throwing 27 touchdowns and 10 interceptions.

But in 2022, Rams quarterbacks combined for a passer rating of 87 on first down and 72.6 on second down, totaling nine touchdowns and 12 interceptions.

The 2022 L.A. Rams were constantly in third-and-long and that’s one BIG reason why the team couldn’t score nearly as often as they did a season earlier. Not only will McVay and LaFleur need to do a better job of coaching, but Stafford and Kupp will need to stay healthy, as well as the offensive line.

Or the third down problems will continue, if not get worse.