Rams: An Offseason Update
The NFL season is not too far away, which means the Los Angeles Rams are certainly chomping at the bit to get back under the bright lights.
Losing the last game of the season always leaves a sour taste in your mouth. But having that loss come in the Super Bowl brings excruciating heartbreak with it. Sean McVay and the Los Angeles Rams felt that pain to the highest degree when they lost Super Bowl LIII to the New England Patriots, 13-3.
The 2018 Rams exhibited a high-flying offense that finished 2nd in both points–per-game and yards-per-game. That explosive offense largely covered up for deficiencies on defense where they finished in the bottom third of the league in just about every relevant defensive metric.
However, the last time we saw this team play, the roles were reversed, as the offense could only muster up three points while the defense was able to hold a Tom Brady-led offense to a 13-spot in the championship.
Head coach Sean McVay is widely regarded as one of the best coaches in the NFL, and will undoubtedly be eager to prove that his offense’s shortcomings in the Super Bowl were an exception rather than the rule.
Superstars Jared Goff, Todd Gurley, and Aaron Donald will all be back and looking to make some more noise in 2019, but let’s take a look at some personnel changes the Rams made with hopes to get them over that elusive final hurdle.
Draft Selections: Taylor Rapp, S, Darrell Henderson, RB, David Long, CB, Bobby Evans, OT, Greg Gaines, DT, David Edwards, OT, Nick Scott, S, Dakota Allen, LB
The Rams front office was faced with the tough task of improving on a roster that was good enough to make the Super Bowl, but with limited picks available, it was going to be a challenging task. But general manager Les Snead did just this by making a handful of draft day trades to move back in the draft to bolster their collection of picks.
Although this decision netted them an overall improvement in draft assets, it meant they would have to trade away their first-round pick for the 3rd consecutive season. In other words, they did not make their first selection of the draft until the 61st overall pick, which is less than ideal.
Snead elected to use the pick on safety Taylor Rapp out of the University of Washington. The 6-foot, 200-pound defensive back will start the season behind Eric Weddle and John Johnson on the depth chart. With that being said, however, Rapp should make an immediate impact because the defensive schemes and formations the Rams utilize fit Rapp’s skillset.
The Rams then turned around and used one of their three selections in the third round on cornerback David Long out of Michigan. This is another case of a talented rookie finding himself a bit buried on the depth chart at the start of the season.
However, with the combination of age and injury history concerns for starting corners Aqib Talib and Marcus Peters, Long’s number will likely get called at some point in 2019. However, the most intriguing selection for the Rams came in another third-round selection, running-back Darrell Henderson out of Memphis.
Todd Gurley is the obvious starter here- no question about that. But it does show that the Rams are clearly concerned about the durability of their star back. Henderson should see plenty of carries during his rookie season and beyond to help keep Gurley’s legs fresh.
Greg Gaines brings depth to the defensive line by filling the gap left by Ndamukong Suh, while Bobby Evans and David Edwards bring much-needed depth and youth to the offensive line.
Key Additions: Eric Weddle, S, Blake Bortles, QB, Clay Matthews, LB
Re-Signed: Dante Fowler Jr., DE
Key Losses: Mark Barron, LB, John Sullivan, C, Ndamukong Suh, DT, Lamarcus Joyner, S, Rodger Saffold, OT
Snead has shown time and time again that he has no problem trading draft picks and spending money on free agents to “win now.” However, his ability to do that this offseason was hindered by the extensions granted to Aaron Donald and Todd Gurley from last summer, along with the need to pay Jared Goff in the immediate future.
Payroll from all of these moves are adding up and has brought the necessity to let quality talent walk out the door- players like Ndamukong Suh, Lamarcus Joyner, and Rodger Saffold.
With that being said, the Rams still made a bit of a splash by bringing in veteran defenders with Pro-Bowl appearances in Eric Weddle and Clay Matthews. These two are both a bit past their primes, but have plenty left in the tank to improve on LA’s average defensive unit.
Blake Bortles is another strong pickup for the Rams. He doesn’t have the best of reputations, but a lot of that stems from the unenviable position he was in with the Jacksonville Jaguars. With Los Angeles, Bortles has the chance to work under McVay, which may turn him into one of the better backups in the league and ultimately revitalize his career.
The cherry on top is that the Perennial “Blake of the Year” contender and founder of the Blake Bortles Wikipedia Club brings with him real tangible postseason experience. Combined with his positive locker-room presence, he should make for an invaluable asset to Jared Goff in the QB room.
A loss in Super Bowl LIII combined with a few personnel blows makes the potential for a regression in 2019 more than just an afterthought. But the Rams have offensive guru Sean McVay leading the charge, with plenty of talent at his disposal. It is definitely safe to say nobody will look forward to matching up against this formidable squad in 2019.
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Featured Image via Flickr/Smashdown Sports News