The Los Angeles Rams have high expectations going into the 2021 NFL season. However, sometimes things get off the rails and don’t necessarily go as planned. While a Super Bowl season would obviously be nice, every team has its flaws. The great teams are able to overcome those flaws and walk away with a Lombardi. Here are 10 reasons why the Rams 2021 season won’t go as planned.
1) The Rams have a thin roster
Over the last six years, the Los Angeles Rams haven’t had a first round pick. While they’ve made do and come out of drafts with good players, it is very against the norm. First round picks aren’t everything, but there is more likelihood to hit on elite talent in that area of the draft.
Because the Rams have been loose with their draft picks, and mismanaged the cap, they have a thin roster. It’s well noted that the Rams haven’t had a lot of cap space over the last few years. This has resulted in not being able to be factors in free agency and add low-level signings that could provide depth.
The Rams are very inexperienced at safety and linebacker. They are also very thin at cornerback and on the edge. Every team deals with injuries. Injuries in the right places could derail the Rams season.
2) Changes on the Defense
The Rams are dealing with a lot of changes on the defensive side of the ball. Not only did the Rams lose their star defensive coordinator in Brandon Staley, but several key starters. The team lost a captain in John Johnson III, a key contributor in Troy Hill, and another key veteran presence in Michael Brockers.
Those are changes that don’t and won’t go unnoticed. Raheem Morris is a good coordinator and will look to implement a lot of the things that made the Rams defense successful last season. However, Staley was the Sean McVay of the Rams defense and the specific scheming can’t be replicated.
The losses of Johnson III and Brockers will also be major. Johnson was the defensive play caller which means that a young player will be wearing the green dot. Troy Hill also provided versatile depth behind Jalen Ramsey and Darious Williams that won’t go unnoticed. Hill wasn’t a top cornerback, but teams can do a lot worse than Troy Hill.
3) The Offensive Line
It doesn’t matter who the quarterback is. As we saw in the Super Bowl, even Patrick Mahomes is susceptible to poor play behind a bad offensive line. That’s not to say that the Rams offensive line is bad. However, Austin Corbett will be making a position change. Andrew Whitworth is another year older and nobody escapes father time.
The Rams were unable to bring back Austin Blythe which means that the team will be playing two players in different positions. A year like 2019 in which the offensive line deals with injuries would be very bad news for the Rams offense. This is a group that needs to build cohesiveness and chemistry throughout training camp. Corbett will also need to have a firm grasp on the center position.
It also can’t be forgotten that the Rams have a new offensive line coach which we’ll get to next.
3) Coaching changes
With Sean McVay in charge, it’s hard to be worried about the direction of the Los Angeles Rams. However, the position coaches and coordinators play a big role in implementing McVay’s plan and the in-depth coaching of players. This last offseason, the Rams coaching staff was gutted.
The Rams lost seven members of their coaching staff this offseason. That included defensive coordinator Brandon Staley, linebackers coach Joe Barry, and cornerback coach Aubrey Pleasant on the defensive side of the ball. On offense, the Rams lost passing game coordinator Shane Waldron, assistant quarterbacks coach Liam Coen, assistant offensive line coach Andy Dickerson, and offensive line coach Aaron Kromer.
While it’s great to see these coaches get new opportunities, it’s also frustrating and means that there are new voices within the organization. That can be a good thing, but as we saw with John Bonamego on special teams last season, it doesn’t always work out.
4) Stafford proves the doubters right
Throughout his career, Matthew Stafford has been seen as an elite quarterback that was held back by a bad organization. Most would agree with that. However, there are some that believe that Stafford padded his stats and if he was elite, the Lions wouldn’t have remained as bad as they were.
Stafford does have a lot to prove in his time with the Rams. Over the next three years, he can legitimately become a Hall of Fame quarterback. The alternative is that he doesn’t win with the Rams and he left Detroit too little too late. All signs point to the marriage between McVay and Stafford being a happy one. However, what if it’s too perfect? Stafford has been turnover prone in Detroit, has played through several injuries, and has always tried to do too much. He’ll need to stay healthy and break the hero mindset to be successful in Los Angeles.
5) The Rams fold to the pressure
There are fewer teams that have more pressure to succeed this season than the Los Angeles Rams. The last time they were this hyped up before a season might have been coming off of the Super Bowl loss to the New England Patriots. Despite having not won the Super Bowl, the Rams have a huge target on their back.
The Rams made the big trade this offseason and teams will be giving them their best week in and week out. Typically, that only happens coming off of a Super Bowl win. With the Rams this season, it feels different. The Rams are a top contender with a top quarterback. They won’t be catching any team by surprise like they would have without making a splashy trade for Stafford.
The Rams are set up very well for success in 2021. The have the star quarterback. They have the star head coach. Aaron Donald and Jalen Ramsey give the Rams elite players on defense that make up for deficiencies elsewhere. However, the NFL season is unpredictable. If things don’t go as planned for the Rams, it will likely be because of the reasons listed above.