Few saw a 5-12 season coming off the back of a victory in Super Bowl LVI for the Los Angeles Rams, especially with Aaron Donald, Cooper Kupp, Jalen Ramsey, and Matthew Stafford still on the roster. A disappointing campaign in 2022 accelerated LA’s rebuild, and the team ousted Ramsey, Leonard Floyd, Bobby Wagner, and others in order to stockpile cap space for the 2024 offseason.
This makes the upcoming 2023 season a turning point. The Rams have retained a fair amount of talent on offense—including Kupp, Stafford, Rob Havenstein, and Tyler Higbee—while fully embracing a youth movement on defense. While Donald will still star in the middle of the defensive line, LA is depending on ascending players like Cobie Durant, Bobby Brown, Ernest Jones, and Michael Hoecht to take the next step in their respective careers.
If the offense can allow room for the defense’s growing pains, the Rams might not just be watchable this year but they could even find themselves in the hunt for a playoff berth. However, the team is counting on the offense to hold water, and if they don’t the bottom could quickly drop out.
The Rams have as wide of a range of outcomes as any team in the NFL for this upcoming season. A top-five draft selection is certainly possible, especially Stafford, Kupp, and the offensive line don’t return to health. Even if they offense plays well, a very green defense will be tough to overcome—and the San Francisco 49ers and Seattle Seahawks are potent offenses within the NFC West division.
But the 49ers and Seahawks aren’t without their own flaws, and it’s certainly possible that the stars could align and create an opening for LA to make the postseason.
For San Francisco, Brock Purdy is rehabbing an UCL injury for last year’s NFC Championship game. We’ve yet to see Trey Lance play for an extended period of time, and it’s still strange that the team is embracing Purdy as the starter despite their significant investment of draft capital in Lance. Sam Darnold isn’t a bad fall back option, but if things reach that point the 49ers are probably trending in the wrong direction overall.
Seattle deserves praise for surrounding Geno Smith with the likes of DK Metcalf, Tyler Lockett, Jaxon Smith-Njigba, Kenneth Walker, and Zach Charbonnet—though the question still remains whether Smith was a potential one-year wonder or if he’s capable of leading the team in the short term. The Seahawks barely missed Russell Wilson last year when they were able to secure a wildcard berth without their former franchise signal caller. Seattle also has some questions on defense and has been unable to find an elite level pass rusher for some time.
We will soon have our answers as to who the Los Angeles Rams will be in 2023. Training camp is starting this week, and we will get a feel for which rookies and newcomers are making strong impressions. Will LA be able to piece together a competitive roster en route to the playoffs, or will the bottom fallout and land the franchise a top draft selection in 2024?