2023 will determine whether it's coaching or talent that gives LA Rams their edge

Los Angeles Rams Offseason Workout Sean McVay, Cooper Kupp
Los Angeles Rams Offseason Workout Sean McVay, Cooper Kupp / Jayne Kamin-Oncea/GettyImages

There has not been a shortage of elite NFL talent on the LA Rams roster since the organization hired Sean McVay as the team's head coach. The obvious player who leads that elite tier is All-Pro defensive lineman Aaron Donald. But he has been joined at times by All-Pro defensive back Jalen Ramsey and All-Pro inside linebacker Bobby Wagner. This year, it's down to just Aaron Donald once more.

On the offensive side of the football, the LA Rams have boasted All-Pro running back Todd Gurley, and more recently All-Pro wide receiver Cooper Kupp. This year, the offense is down to Cooper Kupp once more.

That poses a challenge or an opportunity for the LA Rams to face significant uncertainty as preparations continue for their 2023 NFL season. After all, the primary strategy of the Rams to date has been to load the roster with elite players, and then round out the remainder of the roster with enough veteran and youthful talent to ensure success. That won't happen this year.

McVay is an NFL Top-10 head coach

The LA Rams may not be lighting up the optimism from NFL analysts. The latest ESPN preseason rankings for the LA Rams have them projected as the 31st team in the 32-team NFL (subscription required). That's not very optimistic. And with the LA Rams loading up on 40+ rookies for this season, I'm not that surprised.

But I promised more than a challenge, right? Well, there is more than just a young roster to contend with when trying to assess the success of the LA Rams this season. There is also the indomitable will of head coach Sean McVay.

A recent article from Pro Football Focus writer Trevor Sikkema ranked the NFL's Top-10 NFL head coaches. Despite the 5-12 record from the 2022 NFL Season, or perhaps because of it, Sikkema ranked LA Rams head coach Sean McVay sixth-best. Surprisingly, McVay is ranked behind Andy Reid (Kansas City Chiefs), Bill Belichick (New England Patriots), Mike Tomlin (Pittsburgh Steelers), Kyle Shanahan (San Francisco 49ers), and John Harbaugh (Baltimore Ravens).

Had the Rams turned in a successful 2022 NFL season, McVay would have been a strong contender for a Top-3 ranking. But regardless of where other's view his talent compared to other NFL head coaches, one thing seems clear. A Sean McVay-coached team will surprise the NFL if underestimated.

McVay's Rams have nothing to lose in 2023

While there are no sure things in any NFL season, there are some wildcards that, at this point in time, appear to be aligning in the Rams favor. For starters, the Rams offense is healthy, and the Rams roster appears to be deeper at tight end, running back, quarterback, and for the most part, offensive line, than in quite some time.

But beyond the depth and quality of a number of positions on the Rams offensive front, the Rams coaching staff 'feels,' far more competitive this season. It's impossible to gauge how effective these coaches will be, but we all know that McVay was slow and deliberate in assessing his new hires. And having investigated the backgrounds of RB coach Ron Gould, and OL coach Ryan Wendell, I think that the Rams may be onto something.

Many fans have described the LA Rams as 'tanking,' this season. Tanking implies the deliberate choices to lose games. That's not happening and will never happen for the LA Rams. So, what is it then?

Rams are dangerous and unpredictable this year

Well, the LA Rams know that they have a healthy arsenal of draft picks in the 2024 NFL Draft, currently projected at 10 picks, and that will go a long way for the team if this season falls short of expectations. The LA Rams are truly in a rare win-win scenario this year, and that feeds into this team's strengths.

The LA Rams are high-stakes gamblers by nature. In 2022, the team paid a price for emphasizing winning now, and their 5-12 forced the entire organization to regroup and rethink that strategy. This season, the team has a chance to rebound, and they likely will. But if not, the LA Rams will certainly have a huge arsenal of valuable draft picks in the 2024 NFL Draft to help reinforce the roster for another effort in 2024.

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2023 will determine whether it's coaching or talent that gives LA Rams their edge to succeed. That's why, even when keeping one foot on the ground, don't rule out this LA Rams team from ending up with a solid season. After all, when the LA Rams initially hired McVay in 2017, the team roared out to an 11-5 season.