Takeaway II: Rams special teams are not very special yet
One area where criticism is founded is special teams. That’s right, the very unit that has had their third Special Teams Coordinator in three years. The very unit that was reinforced and targeted in the draft with new young players who specialized in coverage, returns, and overall special teams play.
So far the Rams’ special teams are just not that special.
Would you be surprised to learn that the Rams punting is 31st in the NFL, out of 32 teams? That’s the current ranking by Lineups.com, and is alarming, if not surprising. That’s because the LA Rams are stuck with veteran punter Johnny Hekker, and veteran Johnny Hekker is stuck with a gross punting average under 40 yards per punt. He is currently averaging 39.8 yards per boot. What of the other guy, Corey Bojorquez, who was traded to the Green Bay Packers? He is averaging 45.1 yards per punt, and he is currently 22nd in the NFL. The best? The Jacksonville Jaguars average 52.4 yards per punt.
And then there’s that fiasco of giving up a touchdown when trying to punt out of their endzone?
But that was not the only eye-roller. Prior to that, the LA Rams punted on a fourth down and eight yards to go from their own 41-yard line. Hekker’s punt traveled just 33 yards, giving the Colts incredible field position from their own 26-yard line.
But the Rams have struggled on kickoff coverages as well. So far, the LA Rams have allowed five kickoff returns to generate 147 yards. That’s an average of nearly 30 yards per return.
On a positive note, the LA Rams appear to be set with placekicker Matt Gay, who has been phenomenal since signing on with the Rams in the midst of the 2020 NFL season. The LA Rams have not lost a game on two occasions just yet. But football is a game of inches. At some point, a 10+ yards deficit in the punting game and the inability to cover kickoffs will create problems that this team will find very difficult to overcome.