LA Rams News: Calamity and chaos of 2019 is behind the team now
The LA Rams finished 9-7 in 2019. While many consider that finish just shy of the NFL playoffs to be hugely disappointing, was it really in the grand scheme of things? I guess if you have the perspective that all NFL teams must face some level of adversity, and only those teams that can overcome that adversity can truly be successful.
But sometimes adversity taps some NFL teams, but completely sucker punches others. And in the light of that metaphor, the LA Rams were cold-cocked in 2019. While starting left tackle Andrew Whitworth played all 16 games, both he and starting right guard/center Austin Blythe had corrective surgery as soon as the season ended.
Let’s place that 2019 season into the proper perspective. The LA Rams offensive was crippled by injuries. Not just to the offensive line, but each of the teams running backs was dinged up last season. And while the team found some level of relief in the passing game, even wide receiver Brandin Cooks failed to answer the bell in several games.
The offensive line was so banged up, the team literally needed to trade and sign players to the active roster in mid-season, one of whom – Austin Corbett – was immediately promoted to the starting five. It all contributed to a disastrous offensive showing for the Rams. While the team continued to move the ball and score, the team played behind the 31st-ranked offensive line and the 28th-ranked running game.
While the defense was not as battered, it had its own set of unique and disturbing disasters to deal with. The season began with the Rams defensive backfield comprised of cornerbacks Marcus Peters and Aqib Talib, and safeties Eric Weddle with John Johnson. But Aqib Talib’s season ended due to injury, as did safety John Johnson.
The Rams traded away both Talib and Peters, promoted cornerback Troy Long and rookie safety Taylor Rapp, and traded for cornerback Jalen Ramsey. Of course, the team did all of this in mid-season as well. Surprisingly, the team’s defensive backfield of Long, Ramsey, Rapp, and Weddle actually played far better than the original starters. The team will most likely be looking at sliding in Johnson for the now-retired Weddle in 2020 and running with that cast as starters.
The team planned to start inside linebacker Micah Kiser alongside veteran Cory Littleton, but Kiser’s season ended before it began due to…you guessed it… injury. So the team tapped Bryce Hager to start at inside linebacker and got all of five games out of him before he too fell to injury. Even the addition of Ramsey derailed at the end of the season when he fell to injury as well. That meant another promotion from the ranks, and Darious Williams answered the bell better than anyone could have expected. All in all, 20 of 53 Rams players suffered injuries in 2019.
2019 was not a normal season. It was not even a year with some bad luck. It was a complete and utter disaster. The injury totals alone should have dropped the team to a sub-.500 finish. But the retooling of the starting lineup in midseason was nothing short of miraculous.
Chaos and calamity in the rearview mirror
I’m not here to sell the LA Rams as a favorite to win this year’s NFL Super Bowl. My intentions are simply to place that 9-7 finish for the LA Rams into perspective. And that is before considering sure-footed kicker Greg Zuerlein suddenly going 5-11 on 40+ yard field goal attempts. Will any of these disasters repeat in 2020?
Let’s start off the 2020 season optimistically, and presume that they will not happen again. What does that mean for the LA Rams? Returning the offensive line and getting everyone healthy could prove to be a big boost to the offense. A healthier offensive line means a better running game. That means less pressure to hurry on QB Jared Goff. Healthy starters on defense mean the Rams will play consistent defense and will find ways to stop opposing offenses. The end of so many bad things occurring on the Rams means good things will begin to happen.
National media narratives haven’t the time nor the interest to examine why the LA Rams fell from 13-3 to 9-7. They simply extrapolate that descent to project the Rams to a six-win season with no explanation other than rote mathematics. This is a good LA Rams team. Stop the calamity, stop the chaos, and it will be obvious to everyone.