The Los Angeles Rams won’t be playing in the Super Bowl on Sunday. However, as is the case for the Rams and the 29 other teams not playing this week, they’ll be working towards getting back to the big game this offseason. The Rams have the benefit in that they have been there before and most recently won in 2021. They know what it takes to get to the pinnacle. With that said, there is also a lot of pressure to capitalize on the time that they have left with Matthew Stafford, Cooper Kupp, and Aaron Donald. Here are five things that the Rams must accomplish this offseason to make the Super Bowl next season.
1. Continue Building the Offensive Line
The Rams are going to have to continue building on the offensive line. It’s easy to look at the offensive line from last year and think that they’ll be ok going into this season with that group. With that said, that would be making a mistake and not lacking the understanding of the future of this group. Kevin Dotson could be a player that ends up out of the Rams’ price range. Coleman Shelton may be a free agent and there’s a chance Joe Noteboom and Brian Allen are cap casualties. Those are three players that started games for the Rams last season and at least two-fifths of the starting offensive line.
That doesn’t mention potential upgrades that are needed. Alaric Jackson was fine at the end of last year, but he wasn’t an upper-echelon left tackle by any means. A lot of players on the Rams started slow last year and found their form in the second half of the season. That doesn’t mean those players also don’t need to be replaced — Michael Hoecht and Christian Rozeboom to name a few. That’s no different with Jackson. He’s very good depth, but replacing him as a starter may not be a bad idea. Either way, the Rams simply need to keep building up the offensive line and investing resources into it. Keeping Matthew Stafford upright and healthy has to be priority number one.
2. Find an Elite Edge Rusher
The Rams need to find a disruptive presence on the edge. They absolutely cannot go into next season with Byron Young and Michael Hoecht as their top two edge rushers. Los Angeles has to find someone on defense that can sort of take the torch from Aaron Donald and be that guy that makes plays when they’re needed most, whether that’s on third down or in a game-ending situation.
There will be options for the Rams this offseason whether that’s Brian Burns, another player in free agency, Laiatu Latu or another player in the draft. The preferred option would be to spend on the position in free agency. With that said, the goal simply needs to be to find a young disruptor on the edge who can help take this defense into its next phase.
3. Get Playmakers in the Secondary
Last season, the Rams defense had 10 interceptions. Only two teams in the bottom-10 won a playoff game and those teams were the Green Bay Packers and Kansas City Chiefs. Los Angeles has to find a way to steal possessions on defense to give the offense more opportunities. Unfortunately, 10 interceptions just isn’t going to cut it.
It’s not really a surprise that the Rams were lacking in this area given that they traded away Jalen Ramsey before the season. Some of that is luck-based, but the Rams need players in the secondary who can make plays on the ball in big moments. That was Jalen Ramsey over the last three years and that was lacking last season. Whether it’s in the draft or free agency, the Rams need that player that’s going to make it difficult on opposing quarterbacks and wide receivers. They need a player who is going to take advantage of the mistakes on the backend of the defense.
4. Invest Money Wisely
Les Snead and co. are likely going to have a lot of money to spend this offseason. With that power, comes great responsibility. The Rams must get these decisions right which is something that they didn’t do back in 2022. It seems weird that the Rams had less resources last season, but somehow got more out of their free agent class than they did the year before while spending money. Those mistakes can’t happen again. Just because you can outspend teams on a player, doesn’t mean you should. If the Rams miss out on one of their targets, it’s important to remain on task and not make ill-advised financial decisions i.e. Allen Robinson.
It’s important for the Rams to go into free agency with a plan and ensure that the players that they want to bring in on large contracts are going to fit the scheme and the culture. Not every free agent signing is going to hit, but pro scouting is just as important as college scouting, if not more so with the money involved. If the Rams are going to hand out a big contract, they need to make sure to get it right. That’s something that Snead and Tony Pastoors have struggled with in their tenure when it comes to free agent and contract extensions.
5. Don’t Be Afraid to Make the Tough Decisions
There will come points this offseason where tough decisions are going to have to be made. One that immediately comes to mind is the decision on whether or not to re-sign Kevin Dotson. It might be tough to not bring back Dotson depending on his contract, but the Rams can’t pigeon themselves into a corner either. It might be tough to sacrifice depth on the offensive line by cutting Joe Noteboom, but it also might be the right decision. The tough decision is sometimes the right decision, but that doesn’t make it any easier.
Snead has shown during his tenure that he can make the tough decision. Most of the time he has a good decision-making process. There may be others here such as what the Rams should do with Cooper Kupp, should they trade up or back in the draft, is there a trade out there for a player that can be made? There are going to be tough decisions to make throughout the offseason and the Rams are going to have to show that they are ok making some of those tough choices.