What could stop the Los Angeles Rams team?
By: Jeremy Trottier
The Los Angeles Rams are widely being considered a playoff contender at the very least, if not a contender for the Super Bowl. With the addition of Matthew Stafford this offseason among other weapons such as DeSean Jackson and Tutu Atwell, they seem to be in a good place in terms of their offense. With Aaron Donald on the defense and Jalen Ramsey, they have assets on the defensive side of the ball as well. However, they also have some glaring hurdles to overcome in the 2021-2022 season if they want to make a title push. In this article, I will go over the main three of these challenges, and why they change the Rams odds at a title run.
New Defensive Scheming
One of the biggest changes this offseason for the Los Angeles Rams came in the form of coaching. Defensive coordinator Brandon Staley, who spent the 2020 season as the Rams defensive coordinator, will be moving on to be the head coach of the other Los Angeles team in the Chargers. This move left the Rams in somewhat of a scramble to find a new DC, which ended up being Raheem Morris, who spent his last seven seasons with the Atlanta Falcons as a DC, interim head coach, and assistant coach of many positions at times.
This scheme change could be a huge one, as Raheem comes from the Jon Gruden coaching tree, focusing on hard-nosed football on both sides of the ball and pure power. Morris also worked under Mike Shanahan, Jay Gruden, and Dan Quinn during his career, which somewhat factors in the unknown of what defensive scheme he will utilize with his new team.
The only word to come even remotely close to describing the NFC West is Elite. All four teams in this division are truly high-powered on both sides of the ball, and we could see some huge competition from these teams fighting for the top seed. The Seattle Seahawks still have Russell Wilson, which basically lands them a playoff spot regardless of what happens. However, with DK Metcalf only improving for the last two seasons, Tyler Lockett locked into an extension, Gerald Everett to improve the TE room, and D’Wayne Eskridge potentially for the slot.
The Arizona Cardinals have made improvements as well, the most notable being the addition of JJ Watt to the defense, as well as Zaven Collins to bulk up the linebacker core, and Isaiah Simmons getting a true shot at starting at LB as well. Finally, the 49ers, who have returned to a fully healthy form that was in the Super Bowl only a season ago in 2019-2020, and now Brandon Aiyuk, Trey Sermon, and Trey Lance added on top of that previous roster, as well as the return of 2019-2020 DROY Nick Bosa along the defensive line.
Matthew Stafford Conforming to Scheme
Now, this is in no way ragging on Matthew Stafford, as he is an absolutely phenomenal QB, and really has done well with a team that gave him not much to work with lately. With that said, Stafford is going from a relatively base level offense with not a lot of flashy plays and trick plays, to the team with the highest rate of Play Action from 2017-2021.
This wildly different type of offense could be very good for Stafford, there is no doubt about that, and he will have some amazing weapons around him in Cooper Kupp, Robert Woods, DeSean Jackson, Tutu Atwell, and Tyler Higbee. With that said, subtracting Cam Akers from the mix due to a ruptured Achilles tendon, this offense is going to rely very heavily on the passing game and play action/redirections, which could definitely take time for Stafford to get used to.