What is the most important key to LA Rams 2023 NFL season?

Mandatory Credit: Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports
Mandatory Credit: Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports /
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LA Rams News Matthew Stafford Sean McVay
Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports /

What were the Rams thinking there?

The key to the Rams’ post-season demolition of any and all opponents was their ability to stay the course, not panic, and stick to the pieces that work. That was the right call in the NFL Playoffs because the Rams’ offense was playing behind a healthy offensive line that had gelled for 17 regular season games and knew instinctively how to handle defensive stunts.

That all changed out of the gates for the Rams’ offense in 2022. The team had lost rookie Logan Bruss before the season ever started, and decided to back up the starting center with the starting right guard. That became a sinkhole of injury for the Rams because the team lost the starting center to injury in Week 1. But on the very first play of the next game, the backup right guard broke his lower leg. That opened the Rams to play a third-string offensive lineman in Week 3. From that point on, the Rams’ offensive line did not play the same five linemen until Week 13.

More. Los Angeles Rams: 15 greatest running backs of all-time. light

Who’s calling these plays, anyhow?

Despite the offensive line injuries, the LA Rams’ play distribution was as follows:

  • Opponent          # Passes         # Runs        Result Bills                         41                     18                 L Falcons                  36                      26                W Cardinals               25                      20                W 49ers                      48                     18                 L Cowboys                44                     15                 L Panthers                33                     29                W

Notice the pattern? In those early games, when the LA Rams were somewhat still intact, the offense playcalling followed a rigid pattern of losses when the Rams pass 40+ times and rushed under 20 times. The Rams won when the team rushed 20+ times and threw the football under 40 times.

But the true ‘yikes,’ component to all of this is the fact that the Rams passed heavily into the toughest pass defenses. Against the Buffalo Bills, starting quarterback Matthew Stafford was sacked a ridiculous seven times and intercepted three times. In their first meeting against the San Francisco 49ers, Stafford was once again sacked a crazy seven times, and he was intercepted once. Against the Dallas Cowboys, Stafford was sacked five times and threw another interception.

Let’s tally that up. 19 sacks and five interceptions as a result of defying logic and throwing 40+ times against three of the most difficult pass defenses at that time. For the season, Stafford was sacked 29 times and intercepted eight times in nine games played.

Perhaps the playcalling was a major contributor to the offensive futility after all? I don’t believe that it’s going out on a limb to suggest that if the Rams had a more even play distribution, perhaps Matthew Stafford’s season may not have been quite as ineffective. So what can be done to fix this?