2023 Los Angeles Rams Offseason Preview
Coming off the high of a Super Bowl win, the Rams brought most of their key players from the championship roster back for the repeat bid in 2022. Though it had been decades since the NFL produced a back-to-back champion, each of the past three Super Bowl winners had actually won more regular season games in the runback. Breaking form, it quickly became clear the Rams’ sacrifices to hoist the Lombardi had taken a toll. They entered their Week 6 bye with a .500 record and would go on to lose six games in a row. Along the way, Matthew Stafford, Cooper Kupp, Aaron Donald, and numerous other players would go down with long-term injuries. LA’s offensive line deteriorated and their lack of depth at receiver was exposed. The tumultuous season ended with the Rams as the first team in 10 years to post a losing record a season after winning a ring.
Key Offensive Stats
- Points per game: 18.1 (27th)
- EPA per play: -0.08 (29th)
- Dropback EPA per play: -0.1 (30th)
- Passing yards per game: 182.8 (27th)
- Rush EPA per play: -0.06 (15th)
- Rush yards per game: 97.7 (27th)
Looking at just the games Stafford and Kupp were healthy for, things were still grim. Through nine weeks, LA’s offense ranked 28th in dropback EPA and 29th in rush EPA per play. Stafford ended the year with 10 touchdowns and just two fewer interceptions. Kupp, on the other hand, was his usual, elite self, averaging nine catches for 102 yards before his final game. The Rams would start three different quarterbacks after Stafford went down. Sean McVay chose to hide Baker Mayfield and the others behind a run-heavy script, giving Cam Akers 16 carries per game over the second half of the season. Akers finally returned to form over a year removed from his torn Achilles’ and scored six times while averaging 4.8 yards per carry.
Key Defensive Stats
- Points per game: 22.6 (21st)
- EPA per play: 0.02 (21st)
- Dropback EPA per play: 0.07 (24th)
- Passing yards per game: 226 (21st)
- Rush EPA per play: -0.1 (9th)
- Rush yards per game: 115.1 (13th)
Los Angeles’s defense was a strength in 2022 but showed signs of neglect from years of light investments through the draft. They were worse in EPA per dropback and rush attempt than in 2021. The loss of Von Miller in free agency and Aaron Donald‘s season-ending injury were both massive blows to the pass-rush. They ranked 28th in pressure rate and 24th in yards per attempt allowed. On the bright side, LA had a trio of top-three players at their respective positions according to Pro Football Focus: Donald, Jalen Ramsey, and free agent acquisition Bobby Wagner. All three are under contract for at least two more years.
36th and 69th
Notable Free Agents
Restructuring Kupp’s contract puts the Rams under the salary cap. They have that option with a few other players as well. Leonard Floyd could also be cut and designated as a post-June 1st release, saving $15.5 million in cap space.
The Rams spent four Day Three picks on defensive backs last year but didn’t get much from any of the cohort. Now they are set to lose both of their starting safeties in free agency. Their best bet could be to replace Taylor Rapp with Quentin Lake while taking another flier in the draft to backfill Nick Scott‘s duties.
Kupp should have no issues picking up where he left off, but the Rams’ lack of a second threat at receiver was glaringly apparent. They don’t need to swing for the fences at wide receiver, but a veteran who can actually contribute or a Day Two draft pick is in order.
After a year of the team staying remarkably healthy, injury luck reversed course on LA in 2022. They started a new offensive line combination in nearly every game. They have two guards set to hit free agency and none of their guards ranked inside the top 30 per PFF.
McVay repented for a dismal season by firing multiple position coaches on both sides of the ball and a special teams staffer at the end of the year. Offensive coordinator Liam Coen took the same job at the University of Kentucky. The Panthers also poached assistant head coach and tight ends coach Thomas Brown. The Rams replaced Coen with former Jets offensive coordinator Mike LaFleur. This isn’t the first mass exodus of coaches in Los Angeles, but it is the first self-imposed revamp by McVay. Still, he has plenty of practice working with new staff and should keep things running smoothly in 2023. Retaining defensive coordinator Raheem Morris was also a big win for the organization, as he was looked at for two head coaching gigs around the league.
Since I published this article, the Rams have traded Ramsey for a third-round pick and cut Wagner. There have also been rumors that they would like to trade Stafford. It was beginning to look like their championship window had closed heading into the offseason. They are now seemingly confirming this through their actions. With little cap space and no first-round pick this year, a reset is for the best. They are losing talent this offseason and don’t have a pipeline of recent draft picks to backfill those roles. Stafford, Donald, and Kupp could all be on the trade block if LA is truly committing to a rebuild.