The Los Angeles Rams are going all in next year. Les Snead and co. have moved all the chips to the middle of the table. The question that remains is will it pay off. The Rams were in the Super Bowl just two years ago when they lost to the New England Patriots, 13-3.
The Rams have traded for Matthew Stafford and have two of the best defensive players in the game playing in their primes. The time to win is now. Here’s what the Rams can do to become Super Bowl 56 champions.
1. Play more consistent football
Despite making the playoffs, the Rams were the only playoff team in the AFC or NFC not to put together a three-game winning streak. After beating the Cowboys and Eagles, the Rams lost to the Bills. After back-to-back wins against New York and Washington, they lost to the 49ers. The Rams beat the Seahawks and Buccaneers after the bye week, but then lost to the 49ers again. After beating the Cardinals and Patriots, the Rams lost to the 0-13 Jets. Finally, with wins against the Cardinals and Seahawks, they fell to the Packers in the Divisional Round of the playoffs.
That’s five chances to win three straight games this season and the Rams failed to do so every single time. That starts within being able to play consistent football and that starts at the quarterback position. The Rams traded for Matthew Stafford which should help solve this issue to an extent and help the Rams make a run at the Super Bowl.
2. Get Better Play at the Quarterback Position
According to most metrics, Jared Goff was a bottom-half of the league quarterback. That’s not good enough in most years to win a Super Bowl. Yes, there are the anomalies like Trent Dilfer, Brad Johnson, and Peyton Manning in his final season, but even then you need elite play in other areas and it’s not something you can rely on.
The addition of Stafford should help this exponentially. Under McVay, Stafford has an opportunity to produce among the top-5 quarterbacks in the NFL. Add that production with what the Rams did on defense this season and you have a championship football team.
The Rams finished 10-6 and were fighting for a playoff spot to end the season. With better quarterback play against the Dolphins, 49ers, and Jets, the Rams are arguably 13-3 and fighting for the top-seed and home-field advantage in the playoffs. Stafford will have a lot of pressure to produce in LA, but this will also be the best coach and supporting cast that he’s had.
3. Super Bowl Speed at Wide Receiver
In Sean McVay’s first season in 2017, the Rams traded for a deep threat in Sammy Watkins. In his second season, they traded for a deep threat in Brandin Cooks. 2020 was the first season that McVay didn’t have a deep threat and there were times that it showed. Goff wasn’t hitting the deep ball, but the offense didn’t have the players to make the defense respect it either.
The Rams have one of the better deep-ball passers in the NFL at their fingertips. They need to take advantage and give him some speed on the outside. Marvin Jones is a free agent as well as players like Nelson Agholor and Corey Davis. They can also go to the draft and take someone like Amari Rodgers, Josh Palmer, or Demetric Felton.
4. Get Cam Akers More Involved for a Super Bowl Offense
While Jared Goff seems to get a majority of the credit for the wins in 2017 and 2018, the play of Todd Gurley should not get discounted either. Gurley put up Offensive Player of the Year numbers with 64 and 59 receptions respectively. In 2019, the entire running backs group had nearly half that with 37 combined receptions – 31 came from Gurley. Last season, Malcolm Brown led the way with 23.
There is no doubt that Gurley was a force in the passing game, but Akers can be that as well. Now, there is only one Todd Gurley, but Akers can be a threat out of the back field as a pass-catcher. From weeks 14-19, Akers tallied 10 receptions on 13 targets. In the eight games that he played prior, he accumulated four receptions on four targets.
Akers’ most productive game came in Week 17 against the Cardinals as he had four receptions for 52 yards. He also made a huge play as a receiver in the playoff game in Seattle.
With a healthy Akers, the Rams need to get more production from him in the passing game. Last season, DeAndre Swift had 46 receptions out of the backfield. The Rams need to give that same option to Stafford in Akers.
5. Bring Back John Johnson III
Not often would anyone pound the table for a team to spend big on a safety, especially one that doesn’t have a Pro Bowl or All-Pro selection. However, John Johnson III is that important to the Rams defense. He played a crucial role in implementing the Staley system last offseason and makes things difficult for opposing quarterbacks because of his large wingspan.
Johnson only tallied one interception last season, but his effect on a secondary goes further than the stat sheet. He led the team in tackles last season without Cory Littleton, taking pressure off of linebackers Troy Reeder, Micah Kiser, and Kenny Young. We also can’t forget his game-changing interception in the NFC Championship game against the Saints.
Johnson will probably cost a lot of money, but by trading Goff and restructuring a few contracts, the Rams just might be able to open up enough cap space to bring back their star safety.