LA Rams Season Preview
With Super Bowl LVI set to take place this upcoming February at SoFi Stadium in Inglewood, California, the LA Rams have made it clear that winning the Super Bowl in their home stadium is their one and only priority. It all started when LA traded away former NFC Champion QB Jared Goff along with multiple picks to the Detroit Lions for quarterback Matthew Stafford. From there, the team continued to double down on their winning aspirations.
From the large extension given to Leonard Floyd, to the restructuring of some of the teams’ stars in order to create more cap space to add a few veteran guys like Desean Jackson and Sony Michel, the Rams are the definition of “all-in” for 2021. Even though they will play the year without two of their projected top-three running backs in Cam Akers and Xavier Jones, who are both done for the year with injuries, the optimism around the team has stayed the same. Here I will give you a little preview of what to expect this season, from the best and worst position groups to the surprise players and even a season prediction.
Best Position Group
Many people see the Rams receiving corps as not only their strength but possibly as the best in the league outside of Tampa Bay. But, today I went another route and picked the quarterbacks. While a few teams decided to keep three quarterbacks on their roster, most of those are made up of veteran career backups. With the Rams that is not the case at all. Under veteran QB Matthew Stafford the Rams have Jon Wolford, who is younger than Stafford and already has some playoff experience. Behind Wolford, they have Bryce Perkins.
Perkins is such a dynamic talent on the field and in the QB room that he was able to pick up the Rams’ offense over the past year without ever getting even one single scout team rep. His action in the pre-season only cemented the belief that he has the offense mastered enough to where if he was forced into action that he would be able to win the Rams football games. Not bad from a third-string QB that was an afterthought two months ago.
Worst Position Group
This one is pretty easy, and that is going to be the kicker. Matt Gay has proven inconsistent in live games and is a major concern for the Rams right now. The one saving grace for Gay is that he did not start off particularly great in 2020 either, and he was released. It wasn’t until later in the season that Gay resurfaced with the Rams and became an accurate and reliable kicker. He was never going to be on Justin Tucker‘s status, but he was definitely doing enough last year to warrant at least being the front runner for the job this summer.
Fans should have no issue with that, as Gay certainly earned his camp reps as the number one kicker. But, as training camp went on and Gay continued to struggle with consistency, the Rams raised no flags in bringing in competition for him. That will not be the case if he is inconsistent during the first month of the NFL season, because if he is still not performing, someone will be brought in to take his job before mid-season.
Surprise Star Player
If you haven’t heard of Rams rookie tight end Jacob Harris by now, take notice. The former college WR is making the transition to TE and it is happening faster than anyone could have imagined. Harris is a former basketball player who has Jimmy Graham-like range in the red zone. When you look at the Rams receiving corps, a red zone target is exactly what they are missing. All of their receivers do most of their damage between the twenties and the Rams have had to use runs, play-action, or great play designs in order to punch it in once they were inside the red zone.
Harris brings a whole extra element to this team. It is almost impossible for a shorter secondary player to box him out on jump-balls and the bigger players have no chance to chase him off the line because of his quick hips and savvy route running. Sean McVay hates to tip his hand about anything strategic but even he couldn’t help but gush about the rookie all summer long. Look for Harris to be involved, as mentioned earlier, in the red zone to begin the season.
Then, as the weather gets colder and teams lose skill players and thus need to run the ball more, that will set the Rams up for plenty of 12 personnel where they can have Harris on the field together with either Tyler Higbee or Johnny Mundt. Once Harris is being used between the 20’s, that will expand his route tree and give the Rams even more tools to work with. His only impediment to even more playing time at the moment is the emergence of Mundt as a viable pass-catching option. Still, even if Mundt reaches Gerald Everett levels, that is nowhere near the potential of Harris, so stay tuned and keep your popcorn ready.
Record and Playoffs Prediction
With the addition of the 17th game to the NFL schedule, teams will have to be aware that this will cause more injuries and players will require more rest in order to get through the season as healthy as they can be. With that in mind and considering that the Rams play in the best division in football, my win total needs to be tempered. In 2020, behind one of the best defenses that the Rams have ever had and with Goff out there not holding up his end of the bargain, the team managed to go 10-6 and win a road playoff game in Seattle.
I believe that the addition of Stafford will bring the team at least two more wins and the 17th game brings a chance at another. With that being said, my final prediction for the Rams is that they will finish 13-4 and in first place in the NFC West and will beat the Chargers in Super Bowl LVI.
San Fransisco will threaten for a wild-card off the heels of installing Trey Lance as the starter mid-season and will be set up nicely for 2022. The Seahawks and Cardinals I believe will both take steps back. Kliff Kingsbury cannot afford another bad season and the Seahawks are running out of time with Pete Carroll getting up there in age. Not to mention the constant friction between QB Russell Wilson, Carroll, and the organization. All Rams fans are sure happy to be relieved of any coach/QB drama as we all know how that unfolded last year.
Thanks for reading my LA Rams season prediction article, I hope to see you all out there this Sunday at 520 pm PST when the Rams open up their 2021 season against the Chicago Bears. For more NFL content follow me on Twitter @JbellSportsTalk and @OTH_Football.
main image credit