From the moment that LA Rams head coach Sean McVay was torn between coming back or not, I should have known that something more sinister was underfoot. McVay is the commiserate competitor, and if you tie one of his hands behind his back to fight Mike Tyson for a chance to compete in the next Super Bowl, odds are that he takes a shot. He is the type of NFL who simply doesn’t retire,
Something that seemed like a mere formality was left in uncertainty. Would Rams HC Sean McVay retire? He was rumored to be intrigued one year prior by an offer to head to television for the new Amazon Prime NFL telecast crew. And that certainly had its perks, lots of money, far better hours, and a chance to pivot to a career that could carry him to social security. But when he announced he’d be back, you could almost hear the collective sigh of relief from every LA Rams fan. While the Rams still need to reload talent on this roster (only 44 players under contract atm), they still have one of the NFL’s brightest minds and in my eyes an NFL Top-3 head coach.
Another thing: Do the Rams lack talent?
Everyone knew about the risks of trading those first-round picks in the future to acquire stars in the present. That gamble paid off the jackpot for the Rams, earning the Rams organization a victory in Super Bowl LVI. The shock was not that the bill came due, but that the bill came due quickly.
After the Rams won the Super Bowl, the team and the fans expected that the team would be able to bring guys back like veteran OLB Von Miller and WR Odell Beckham Jr. But there was a slight change of plans as Miller signed with the Buffalo Bills and OBJ did not heal fully to try out for any NFL team roster until the last weeks of the 2022 NFL season. By that time, injuries to QB Matthew Stafford, WR Cooper Kupp, and DL Aaron Donald led to one of the worst Super Bowl hangovers we’ve seen.
Now after trading All-Pro defensive back Jalen Ramsey and cutting veteran ILB Bobby Wagner and OLB Leonard Floyd, the LA Rams' defensive depth chart is a bit shocking. In terms of veteran starters, the defense has Aaron Donald, returning inside linebacker Ernest Jones, and nine starting positions that are completely up for grabs and may be won by players who are not even on the Rams roster in the third week of April 2023. With the LA Rams entering the 2023 NFL Draft with 11 draft picks to fill 46 roster spots, and 25 spots if you only focus on the 53-man active roster plus the 16-man practice squad, your guess is as good as mine. It will certainly be very interesting to see how the Rams' front office attacks this draft with the picks that they do have.
Is Rams quarterback Matthew Stafford really healthy and available, or on the trade block?
One off-season report from LA Rams' nemesis Mike Florio came out suggesting that the Rams were willing to trade their Super Bowl-winning quarterback Matthew Stafford in the off-season. That report was right on the heels of a report he came out with that said that Rams HC Sean McVay wanted no part of the LA Rams in 2023.
None of it makes any sense.
The LA Rams struggled in 2022, not because of a not-quite-right throwing arm of QB Matthew Stafford, but simply due to the incredible number and rate of injuries to the Rams' offensive line. Those early injuries snafu'd the offensive timing, cohesion, communication, and chemistry so quickly and thoroughly that the offensive line faltered. The unit could not protect the quarterback and the lack of a running game persisted. The Rams runners finally began to find daylight in December 2022.
Perhaps the biggest snafu in all of those trade Stafford scenario rumors? The LA Rams have no quarterback on the roster to take over if something happens to Stafford.
In the end, I really don't know what to think about the LA Rams' upcoming 2023 NFL season. I do know that there has never been so much uncertainty, even as the Rams press on to reset their roster. I get the fact that the off-season can give rise to some crazy and outlandish narratives. But much like the injuries suffered by Rams players throughout the 2022 NFL season, the pace and severity of these rumors are not something I've witnessed before.
The Rams roster needs some work. Much like the summer road construction, the Rams are not simply paving over old problems. Rather, the Rams are taking the road surface all the way down and starting over. And much like that summer resurfacing, I just have to be more patient and plan to progress more slowly for the time being. Hopefully, when the work is done, the LA Rams will be zipping along once more.