The Los Angeles Rams were exposed in the Super Bowl, putting them in a pickle this offseason. Can they return the same team next season and hope to be better? Is there anything broken to be fixed?
The Los Angeles Rams are in a pickle. They just had a stupendous season that brought them all the way to the Super Bowl. And as we just saw, one year’s Super Bowl loser can come back and win the following season if things fall into place.
But the Rams lost in a tricky manner. All year, they had one of the best two offenses in the sport. Led by Sean McVay and a cavalcade of playmakers, Los Angeles could slice and dice any opponent. Until the Super Bowl. On the biggest stage, the Rams got completely shut down offensively.
So is this a sign of a major issue with the club, or just a one-game aberration? What is more indicative, the success during the year or what happened when the opponent completely game-planned against everything the Rams try to accomplish? What do the Rams do this offseason?
Two brothers from New York, Dan Salem and Todd Salem, debate the Los Angeles Rams in today’s NFL Sports Debate.
On the other side of the ball, the Los Angeles defense was rather disappointing during the regular season. Despite Aaron Donald‘s performance, the unit wasn’t anything special and left people wanting more. However, in the championship, the entire group stepped up in a major way. The LA defense ended up getting overshadowed by its counterpart, but it was doing everything right other than getting a body on Julian Edelman. So what is more indicative here, the regular season struggles or the title game heroics?
To make matters worse (or better depending on your opinion), nearly the entirety of the Ram offense is due to return next season, while the defense could see major upheaval through free agency. That’s either good because the yearly offense was good, and the defense was bad. Or that’s bad because the offense failed when it needed to step up the most, and the defense came through. Now you see the pickle we are in.
On offense, assuming Cooper Kupp returns to full health, the only pieces on the block are free agent guard Rodger Saffold and backup running back C.J. Anderson. On defense, a number of big names need to be addressed. Ndamukong Suh, Dante Fowler, Lamarcus Joyner, Sam Shields and others enter free agency.
Can the team afford Suh and Fowler again? What happens with Joyner coming off a disappointing one-year deal? Can the Rams find the cap space to upgrade on such talented players, even if they didn’t live up to expectations during this past season?
I think the correct answer here is to somewhat split the difference. The Rams should run back as much of last year’s team as they possibly can. On both sides of the ball, it was arguably the most talented team in the league. A one-game blip doesn’t reset that offensively, especially with Kupp returning. And a disappointing year defensively doesn’t mean the players are worth jettisoning.
This is probably an optimistic slant. If something doesn’t work, you shouldn’t just run it back. But did the Rams not work? Non-Patriots championship windows are small for even the youngest rosters. This team came close enough where it doesn’t make sense to me to overhaul anything. That still could mean they lose Suh or Joyner or a combination of defensive pieces. But the goal should be to replicate 2017 and 2018, not rewrite things.
While I agree with you in principle, I do believe the Los Angeles Rams need an upgrade or two on defense. The Super Bowl is never a good representation of a team. It’s a single winner-take-all game where you literally throw your playbook away so the opposition doesn’t know what’s coming, or keep doing the same thing and hopefully not fail. The Rams succeeded on defense, in principle, but failed on offense.
New England’s ability to have the best game plan ever and shut them down offensively was an anomaly, because they succeeded on offense throughout the playoffs and regular season. Los Angeles’ ability to shut down the Patriots is also slightly misleading, because New England ran on them fairly well and won.
The Rams had a great offense and by returning nearly everyone, should have a great offense once again. They cannot ignore the offensive line this offseason and must get a backup for Todd Gurley, since C.J. Anderson is a free agent. Gurley’s injury proved that Los Angeles needs depth. Anderson provided it last year, so that’s a hole on offense in my opinion. Running things back with everyone else means you get to improve upon the best offense in the NFL. That is good news.
Los Angeles has to do something defensively this offseason. They seemed to always do just enough last year, but that cannot be acceptable going forward. With the likely departure of big money players, the Rams need some young and cheap replacements.
This is where the Patriots always seem to shine and what has kept them on top of the AFC for so long. Los Angeles’ ability to make lesser known players better will be critical. Aaron Donald should be able to do this for his defensive teammates. I would re-sign Fowler and replace Suh with someone less expensive. He is good, but his price is too high.
When you dominate its okay to keep your team in tact. The Saints did this last season (more on that from us later) and the Rams must do the same. Los Angeles basically added to its successful team from 2017 and got better in 2018. Don’t fix what isn’t broken. Make it better with cool new features.