This is a time of year where we start thinking more about and looking forward to the 2023 season. Training camps are in full swing, the first preseason game has been played in the Hall of Fame Game, and we’re ready for Week 1 just to get here already. The Los Angeles Rams are coming off of a disappointing 2022 season and fans are itching to taste success once again.
As most people know, the hot take media has taken over much of the media landscape over the last decade. While hot takes are starting to get a little old, these shows still tend to do well. Hot takes aren’t necessarily 100% true and analysts don’t always fully believe them, but most of the time, there is some truth behind them which is why they grab attention of viewers.
I’ve put together 10 lukewarm or maybe hot takes for the Los Angeles Rams 2023 season to see if there is something there. These are takes or ideas that maybe I don’t fully believe just yet, but they could develop into something later on in the season. Let’s get it all out now. I want to see your “hot takes” in the comments below!
1. Stetson Bennett starts more games in 2023 than Matthew Stafford
Could Stetson Bennett start more games at quarterback for the Rams than Matthew Stafford in 2023? Stafford is entering the season as healthy as he’s ever been. Still, there are some major concerns here.
The Rams quarterback is 35 years old and coming off a season in which he had a back injury and suffered multiple concussions. Meanwhile, the Rams didn’t make that many changes to the offensive line. I’m not predicting a Stafford injury, but he could still take a lot of hits.
Marc Bulger started just 8 games during his last season in 2009 as the Rams struggled to protect him and were a team also in a transition period. If Stafford gets banged up, the Rams may want to see what they have in Bennett before potentially drafting a quarterback in 2024. Stafford may start all 17 games and there’s nothing to see here. However, there are some valid concerns about his future heading into this season.
2. Kobie Turner will be considered the best Rams rookie in 2023
The Rams selected Steve Avila with the 36th overall pick and there will certainly be a lot of attention surrounding him heading into the season. With that said, the offensive line could be a position group that struggles. Avila is going to have his rookie moments, especially if he plays on the left side where the Rams don’t have a veteran like Rob Havenstein.
Turner is a player that the Rams were really excited about coming out of the draft and has garnered praise from Aaron Donald and the coaching staff. Playing next to Donald in his rookie season certainly won’t hurt either. By the end of the year, we may see Turner as one of Snead’s better hits in the draft and as the Rams rookie that had the best season.
3. Rams won’t tank, but will put themselves in position to draft a QB
It seems odd that say that the Rams aren’t tanking might be considered a hot take. However, I don’t see the Rams as being the worst team in the league. That’s especially the case when the Houston Texans still have a lot of questions and Sam Howell is set to start at quarterback for the Washington Commanders.
Still, it’s very important that the Rams put themselves in position to draft a quarterback. That doesn’t mean that they need to draft number one overall. Patrick Mahomes, Justin Herbert, and Josh Allen were all drafted outside the top-5. The Rams don’t need to be selecting number one overall. Colin Cowherd reported that Los Angeles likes the incoming quarterback class.
If the Rams are sitting at 5-8 or 6-7 heading into the final four games, what’s more beneficial, pushing to make the postseason as a seventh seed, or putting yourself in position to draft a top-end rookie quarterback? Would the Rams shut down starters late in the year that are banged up like they did last season to ensure their draft position?
4. Raheem Morris’ Defense will finish inside the top-20
There is some speculation that the Rams defense could be one of the worst defensive units in recent memory. With Aaron Donald on the roster, that just seems unlikely. It’s very possible this young, inexperienced starts slow, but finds their groove as the season goes on and enters the later stages.
It’s often forgotten that in 2021, the Kansas City Chiefs had one of the worst defenses in the NFL in the first nine weeks of the season. In fact, they ranked 29th in defense EPA and 28th in DVOA in Weeks 1-9. However, from weeks 10-18, the ranked as the sixth best unit in defense EPA, finishing just inside the top-25. That’s a significant jump and the Rams could see something similar in 2023.
The young Rams secondary led by Cobie Durant and Jordan Fuller is going to have its bumps. Ernest Jones will be the starting linebacker in Week 1 for the first time in his career and the Rams have almost no experience at edge rusher. Players like Byron Young will get better as the year goes on and help the Rams finish in the top-20.
5. Puka Nacua will be most productive Rams rookie WR since Cooper Kupp
Throughout the Sean McVay era, the Rams haven’t necessarily relied on or played their rookie wide receivers. The exception to this is Cooper Kupp. Van Jefferson as a second-round pick only had 220 yards during his rookie season.
That could change this year with Puka Nacua. Nacua has handled everything that the Rams have thrown at him thus far in OTAs and training camp. WIth Kupp out with a hamstring injury over the next few weeks, Nacua will get even more reps with the first team offense that a player in his position wouldn’t normally receive.
There are still concerns with his injury history and maybe this is me just buying into the offseason hype. However, everything said about Nacua up to this point has been positive whether that’s from McVay, Matt LaFleur, Stafford, or other players. It’s very possible that he sees a decent amount of playing time in his rookie season.