NFL writer Rick Gosselin released his 2023 special teams rankings and I’m going to tell you right now that I immediately scrolled to the bottom to find out where the L.A. Rams were: Unsurprisingly, they were 32nd.
The Rams ranked dead last overall, but also in these specific categories:
- Points allowed (14), dead last
- Kickoff returns (16.1 yards), dead last
- Punt coverage (15.5 yards), dead last
- Opponent blocked kicks (3), dead last
There were several categories with a lot of teams tied for last, and I’ll assume the Rams are in there somewhere too.
It’s nothing new for Sean McVay, who has consistently valued offense and defense so much that he’d rather not spend any resources on special teams. McVay has won a lot of games, it’s hard to fault him for his philosophies, but the Rams go into these playoffs with a clear weakness and one that they’ll hope won’t bite them in the ass when it comes to Brett Maher on field goals or the punt coverage unit for Ethan Evans.
Chase Blackburn is in his first season as L.A.’s special teams coordinator, who knows how long that will last. McVay has moved on from several of them, including John Fassel, since taking the job in 2017. McVay has also not been hesitant to part with All-Pro punters, Pro Bowl kickers, and dependable longsnappers.
As they did a few years ago until landing on Matt Gay, the Rams have rotated through multiple kickers in the offseason, preseason, and regular season. Most recently, the team cut Lucas Havrisik to bring back Brett Maher who they had cut to bring in Havrisik.
It’s unexpected that the Rams will have good special teams in the playoffs, or even in the future. The question McVay must avoid is, did special teams cost the Rams a playoff win?