8 surprisingly effective LA Rams who could do better in 2022
Just for kicks
The LA Rams were desperate to stabilize their placekicker position when the team signed second-year kicker Matt Gay to compete for the role in the midst of the 2020 NFL season. While he turned the ship around for the Rams kicking game in 2020, he was named to the first Pro Bowl of his career in 2021. It was a well-earned honor, as he proved to be responsible for the margin of victory in five games through the 2021 NFL season, including their final three post-season games.
The LA Rams did not re-sign kick Greg Zuerlein in 2022 after his accuracy dropped to 72.7 percent and his attempts at 40+ yard field goals plummeted to just 10 out of 18 successful kicks. For comparison’s sake, Gay enjoyed a 94.1 percent accuracy in 2021, and he was successful in 11 of 13 at a distance of 40+ yards. Now the question is, can he get any better?
I believe that answer is yes. He is entering his fourth NFL season and has rapidly improved both his accuracy and his leg strength. In fact, in 2021 he was good for a touchback nearly two-thirds of the time at kickoffs. He has improved each season, and there is still room for getting better.
A nose for trouble
I am not the least bit surprised at the success of defensive lineman Greg Gaines in the LA Rams defensive front. After all, I was covering his collegiate career at the University of Washington and believed him to be a true NFL prospect all those years ago. He was a perfect addition to the LA Rams DAWGWORK defensive line for Coach Eric Henderson.
In just his third season, Gaines got his shot and delivered. Starting 13 of 17 regular-season games, he put up 55 tackles and 4.5 quarterback sacks, making him the fourth-best pass rusher on the LA Rams’ 2021 NFL roster. Who was in front? Aaron Donald, Von Miller, and Leonard Floyd, a group places Gaines in very respectable company.
At 6-foot-1 and 312-pounds, Gaines has a naturally low center of gravity that makes him ideal to play the nose tackle position. But he also has cat-like agility and gazelle-like speed, which have allowed him to pursue and bring down even speedy quarterbacks from behind on more than one occasion. Now entering his contract year, you can expect to see the best of Gaines throughout the 2022 NFL season. That’s great news for the Rams defense and really bad news for NFL quarterbacks.