3 areas fans will see marked improvement from 2024 Rams roster

NFC Wild Card Playoffs - Los Angeles Rams, Sean McVay
NFC Wild Card Playoffs - Los Angeles Rams, Sean McVay / Kevin Sabitus/GettyImages
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I: Red Zone offense

Before you believe that I am sounding the Klaxons over the Rams red zone offense, I do not declare the sky is falling for no good reason. To be fair, the Rams red zone offense for 2023 was pretty good, scoring on 60.34 percent of their red zone opportunities, good enough to land as the eighth-ranked NFL red zone offense last season. But when the team faced the Detroit Lions in the Wild Card Round of the 2024 NFL Playoffs, the Rams were a pathetic 0 for 3 in the red zone. That was a hard pill to swallow considering that the team lost the game by one point.

Diagnosing the problem

So, what went wrong? Well, of the three chances in the zone, the offensive play selection was as follows:

Red Zone 1 - Q1 - 5:14 1st and 10 from 16-yard line

  1. Run - RB Kyren Williams middle (4 yards) - PENALTY, Detroit Kerby Joseph, Unnecesary Roughness. Ball placed on the 6-yard line
  2. Incomplete pass - Cooper Kupp
  3. Incomplete pass
  4. Incomplete pass - Cooper Kupp
  5. Field goal kicked and good.

Red Zone 2 - Q3 - 4:23 1st and 10 from 11-yard line

  1. Incomplete pass - Ball thrown away
  2. Pass complete - Puka Nacua (-1 yards)
  3. Pass complete - Cooper Kupp (4 yards)
  4. Field goal kicked and good

Red Zone 3 - Q4 - 9:28 1st and 10 from 13-yard line

  1. Run - RB Kyren Williams middle (-1 yards)
  2. Pass complete - Ronnie Rivers (3 yards)
  3. Pass incomplete - Cooper Kupp
  4. Field goal kicked and good

As you can see by the plays called, it didn't take a crystal ball to predict that the go-to guy for the Rams in the end zone will be Cooper Kupp. In 10 offensive plays called in the red zone, only two were runs by RB Kyren Williams, four were passes to anyone not named Cooper Kupp, and four were passes to Cooper Kupp.

Grinding 'em out on the ground

One of the first challenges to the array of plays called in a win-or-go-home playoff scenario above is the utter lack of confidence that the team had in running the football in the red zone. Just two runs, and one that netted a first down on the combination of a run plus penalty. Was that due to the ineffectiveness of the running attack overall? Or was it a case of a team that cannot gain yards on the ground without trying to run the football?

Either way, the results were the same.

Thankfully, the team has taken steps to correct the problem. By beefing up the interior of the offensive line, the Rams have improved the chances of success in red zone scenarios. Then, factor in running back Blake Corum, who is unstoppable when he smells the end zone, and you can see how this offense has upgraded in the red zone.

Aerial assault options

Another curious component of the playoff red zone experience is the lack of passes to the tight end. If you recall a vicious and questionable hit to starting TE Tyler Higbee forced out of the game. The Rams were able to complete two of two passes to rookie tight end Davis Allen for 28 yards, but the offense did not get him involved in the pressure-cooker plays in the red zone.

Well, that has changed in 2024. Not only have the Rams returned WR Demarcus Robinson from 2023, but the team has added TE Colby Parkinson, a tight end who stands 6-foot-7 and weighs 251 pounds. He was signed to a contract that has Tyler-Higbee-successor baked into it. And at 6-foot-7, he is a pretty big target in the red zone. Couple that with a more aggressive rushing attack, the return to health of starting TE Tyler Higbee, and the growing confidence and expertise out of TE Davis Allen, and you have a robust red zone offense in the making.

With a healthy and productive set of tight ends and wide receivers in 2024, the Rams will have plenty of solid options in the red zone for the 2025 NFL Playoffs. Now, the team merely has to get there.

As always, thanks for reading.