There has been a great deal of concern about the LA Rams team and their chances of success in the 2021 NFL season. But the team is showing signs of improving, right on schedule. After all, peaking in the first month of an NFL season is cute. But successful teams peak as the season draws to a close. The Rams appear to be following that second path right now.
Over the course of an NFL season, the three components of the football team: Offense, defense, and special teams; may have varying levels of performance. Everyone begins on the same page when the season opens. Coaching is at its peak. Teams that had weeks to prepare put it all on the football field. One team wins, the other team is denied, and must go back to the drawing board.
Over the course of the season, some elements act on the team, working to drag the performance down. Injuries occur. Some players are forced to sit out games, and the unfortunate players are done for the season. That means a new player is introduced to the mix. With each new player comes the need for new familiarity, for even stronger communication, and for new or different skills combined on the football field.
Players who remain on the football field get banged up, bruised, sore, and their peak performance erodes over 17 games. Other teams track and analyze tendencies, vulnerabilities, and strategies. It’s tough to use the same ole script to win over and over in the NFL. That’s why good teams lose, and bad teams will stumble into a win occasionally. It’s more than randomness. It’s intensity and preparedness.
Conversely, there are the elements of familiarity, of playing alongside one another, and the ever-improving ability to communicate and understand the traits of one another. Veterans coach up younger players. Over time, it begins to take root. The LA Rams are getting better because they are ‘getting it.’ When it starts to click for one player, it quickly clicks for them all.
Reason I: Averaging out 17 games
Annual statistics for NFL teams are based upon the averages. While that rule is overlooked early in the season, it eventually gains traction. In short, the 17 game season pits an NFL team against 14 other NFL teams, and three of those teams will play twice in a season. Considering the fact that there are 32 teams in the NFL, that means teams will not face 17 teams. They, of course, can never oppose themselves.
In the first four games of the young NFL season, the Rams faced two of the Top-5 offenses in the league. That weighs heavily upon how well the Rams defense is perceived to be playing and dramatically influences the team’s statistical performance. But then again, those offenses are shredding practically every team they face. So the quality of one team’s performance must be compared to the quality of their opponents to truly get a feel of how well or poorly that team plays.
The LA Rams face the Detroit Lions in Week 7. The Lions are not statistically strong on either offense or defense. Barring any unforeseen circumstances, the Rams defense should improve its standing among other defenses after Week 7. And the Houston Texans offense is sputtering as well. By the end of the season, the average of playing opponents across the spectrum is expected to wash out and position the team at the appropriate rank.