If you’re a Los Angeles Rams fan, chances are that you are already looking ahead to 2023 with this season already being lost.
The 2022 season isn’t the one that we envisioned coming off a Super Bowl victory. But with four weeks to play, the Rams sit at 4-9 and have seen a majority of their key players go down with injuries. Even in a weak NFC, the playoffs are out of reach for this team.
So with that being the case, let’s look ahead to 2023 and discuss what the Rams need to do to get back into contention.
There are many people out there using the Rams’ 2022 lost season to say that the run with their current core is over. As disappointing as this season has been, I’m not ready to go that far.
The reason I feel that way is because of how many injuries this team has been forced to deal with. Matthew Stafford, Cooper Kupp and Allen Robinson have all missed significant time. Aaron Donald has been out. Every member of the secondary has been hurt at one time or another outside of Jalen Ramsey, and the same can be said about the offensive line sans Rob Havenstein.
Injury luck is a very real and important thing in the NFL, especially for a top-heavy team like the Rams. Last season, the Rams were one of the healthiest teams in the league.
That’s life in the NFL
Not only does that allow you to have your most talented players on the field when it matters most, but it also allows you to build some continuity. Stafford and Robinson could’ve used some more reps to develop chemistry, but unfortunately the former was dealing with an elbow issue that didn’t allow him to throw for most of training camp.
Part of what makes offensive lines have success is communication and ability to know what the guy next to you is going to do before it happens. When you’re a team like the Rams that started 12 different offensive line combinations in the first 12 weeks of the season, something that has literally never been done before in NFL history, of course that unit is going to struggle.
The good news for the Rams is that they will have a much longer offseason this year than they did last. It’s hard to say whether or not that contributed to the glut of injuries the team dealt with in 2022, but more time off to reset and get healthy can only be a good thing.
Address offensive line
As far as actual personnel moves the Rams can make to get better, the offensive line is the first thing they need to address. Injuries have played a big factor, as previously discussed, but that group has struggled this season regardless of who has been in there.
Moving forward, the Rams have two starters they can rely on in Havenstein at right tackle and Brian Allen at center. They also have three solid but not spectacular guard options in David Edwards, Coleman Shelton and Logan Bruss. They have all dealt with injuries this season, but perhaps the most interesting of the bunch is Bruss. He was the Rams’ top draft pick in 2022 but tore his ACL in the preseason so has not been able to show what he can do.
If he can develop into a starter then that would leave one fewer question mark on the offensive line. The Rams probably will need to go back to the well and draft an offensive tackle with their top pick in 2023 though as starting left tackle Joe Noteboom tore his Achilles and could be out for a while.
Add a pass rusher and running back
I know it sounds crazy to say, but the Rams don’t have a ton of needs outside of offensive line.
Perhaps the one benefit to how the 2022 season has gone is that it’s allowing young players to get reps they otherwise wouldn’t have. That is allowing them to make mistakes and learn from them, developing for the future. It’s also allowing the coaching staff to evaluate who is deserving of roster and starting spots in 2023.
Among the young players that have emerged as potential pieces for the organization moving forward are wide receivers Tutu Atwell and Ben Skowronek, running back Kyren Williams, defensive linemen Marquise Copeland and Michael Hoecht and linebacker Ernest Jones.
I’d say two of the Rams’ other needs though are a pass rusher and running back.
Outside of Donald and Leonard Floyd, they haven’t been able to generate much pressure on the quarterback this season. There’s not a whole lot of pass rushers in the free agent market, so this may also have to be a priority in the draft along with offensive line.
And L.A. has been trying to figure out the running back position since the departure of Todd Gurley. They’ve drafted Darrell Henderson, Cam Akers and Williams in recent years although none of them have emerged as a true starting back.
The good news here is that the free agent class is stacked with running backs including Saquon Barkley, Josh Jacobs, Tony Pollard, Devin Singletary, Jeff Wilson Jr., Damien Harris, Kareem Hunt, Miles Sanders and David Montgomery.
The Rams typically don’t put a lot of resources into the running back position, but perhaps they can get one of these guys on the cheaper end to lead the running back room in front of Akers and Williams.