The LA Rams 2023-24 season surprised many as a team that many thought might be "tanking." the team certainly turned it all around, converting a 3-6 start to a 10-7 finish with a playoff berth. While the Wild Card round of the 2024 NFL Playoffs against the Detroit Lions didn't have the result many Rams fans wanted, there is still great optimism around this franchise going into the offseason.
Even though this season was immensely successful, it wasn't perfect by any means. Some areas of weakness were noticeable to the die-hards and even the average fan, but the Rams' front office decided to look away and address it too late in the year or even not address it at all. Let's dive into a few that negatively factored the season the most.
We all know that starting QB Matthew Stafford isn't getting any younger. After suffering numerous injuries during the 2022-23 season, you would think the Rams would think about getting a reliable backup QB just in case Stafford were to miss a game or two. They thought they had a good backup option in former Georgia Bulldog rookie QB Stetson Bennett, but he has been away from the team before week one with personal issues.
Once they found out that Bennett would be away from the team, they should have gone out and got a reliable backup QB but instead, they stuck with an unreliable QB Brett Rypien. While Stafford missed only one game due to injury, that one game was against the Packers at Green Bay, and with Rypien under center, the offense was nonexistent. During their bye week, a week later they brought in veteran Carson Wentz, which turned out to be a great move. They waited a week too late, and this should have been something that was addressed before the season even started.
The Rams special teams unit was statistically one of the worst units in football history. They finished the regular season with a special teams DVOA rating of -9.2% which is unheard of and is the sixth-worst, finished rating of all time. They allowed two punt returns for touchdowns, including the walk-off, against the Baltimore Ravens in week 14. Ironically, that walk-off punt return for a touchdown led to their only loss in the second half of the season.
Their kicking situation was arguably the worst in football. They missed eleven field goals and five extra points, which led the NFL in both. After trialing and releasing two of the best college kickers in training camp, they started the season with veteran K Brett Maher. But by mid-season, he was cut and the Rams wound up signing K Lucas Havrisik. He was just as bad, so the team cut him as the season was drawing to a close. The Rams then re-signed Maher to finish the season. Both kickers didn't deserve the spot, as many points were left off the board.
Except for P Ethan Evans, all aspects of special teams need to be addressed this offseason because this performance can't happen again. That may not mean that ST Coordinator Chase Blackburn will be fired, but it does mean that his job may hinge on the Rams making serious strides on special teams in 2024.