Well, we’ve made it. The 2021 NFL season is officially here. The Los Angeles Rams head into the season as Super Bowl favorites. However, every team still has question marks on their roster. The Rams are no exception. Here are the top-5 question marks for the Rams as we head into the 2021 season.
Is the Offensive Line Good Enough?
Most will say that the Los Angeles Rams will only go as far as their offensive line will take them. While that’s true in a sense, it’s not totally accurate. Yes, the Rams need their offensive line to play well, however, there are things that Sean McVay and Matthew Stafford will be able to do from the quarterback and play calling standpoint that will make it easier.
That doesn’t mean that the Rams don’t have question marks on the offensive line and will have something to prove. After rolling with Austin Corbett at center for most of the offseason, the team made a late switch to Brian Allen and pulled Bobby Evans from right guard. The Rams had a top-10 offensive line last season and didn’t do anything to replace Austin Blythe.
As seen in the Super Bowl last year, even Patrick Mahomes needs protection. The Rams can have an average offensive line and be fine. However, where this could get scary is if Brian Allen plays like he did in 2019 and everything around him begins to crumble.
Allen and the four others up front have a lot to prove in the early weeks of the season before a big Week 3 battle against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
Can Darrell Henderson Carry The Load?
The Detroit Lions had 11-100 yard rushing game with Stafford at quarterback in his career. To say the least, Stafford didn’t have a lot of help. Everybody knows that a good running game makes the life of a quarterback a lot easier. That’s true for a rookie quarterback and it’s true for a veteran quarterback.
This is why fans and pundits were excited when Stafford came to the Los Angeles Rams and was going to be paired with promising young running back Cam Akers. Akers finished the year strong and looked to be headed into a big sophomore season. That was until he catastrophically tore his achilles in training camp.
There are a lot of questions surrounding the run game at this time. Can Darrell Henderson carry the load? Is Sony Michel healthy enough to relieve Henderson and fill in if Henderson gets hurt?
Matthew Stafford came to Los Angeles so that he didn’t have to do everything. He’ll have the weapons at wide receiver and he has the offensive play caller. However, the running game could potentially be lacking.
Matthew Stafford a Good QB, or Good QB on a Bad Team?
When it comes to good players on bad teams there is always one question. Is this player a good player or are they just a good player on a bad team? That is one of the biggest questions that Matthew Stafford will have to answer this season. Everyone knows about his arm talent and what he’s capable of. He’s one of few quarterbacks that can make Patrick Mahomes-esque throws.
With that said, when your team is constantly playing from behind, it’s easier to rack up yards and there are more chances and opportunities for fourth quarter comebacks. To argue against that, Stafford’s yards per attempt is actually the lowest in the last 25% of the game.
There might be no quarterback with more to prove this season than Matthew Stafford. He no longer has the excuse that he’s stuck in Detroit and stuck with a bad franchise. Stafford will need to rise to the occasion or yes, his legacy will be that he was simply a good quarterback on a bad team and not just a good quarterback.
Can the Secondary Overcome Inexperience?
The Los Angeles Rams have a lot of potential in the secondary, but that doesn’t mean that there aren’t also a lot of question marks. This is a team that lost John Johnson III and Troy Hill in free agency. While both players are replaceable, especially Hill, the Rams will be throwing in inexperienced players in their shoes.
Jordan Fuller got playing time last year, but he’s simply in year two and now holds a lot of responsibility – not that he can’t handle it. Terrell Burgess is versatile, but was a role player in 2020 and spent some of the season hurt. Taylor Rapp has always just been a role player and David Long played in just 34% of defensive snaps last season.
Additionally, Darious Williams will need to back up his strong 2020 season and he’s not going to sneak under the radar. Teams are going to have a year of film on the former undrafted free agent. Simply put, this is an inexperienced group. There’s little doubt that they have the ability, but it wouldn’t be surprising to see some growing pains along the way.
Can the Coaching Staff Work in Unison?
The Rams coaching staff went through a lot of changes over the offseason. No coaching staff experienced more changes than the Rams did. This is a team that lost all three of its coordinators – only the special teams coordinator was by choice.
With Sean McVay at the helm, the offense is always going to be ok. However, Brandon Staley took a defense that rated ninth in DVOA in 2019 to number one in 2020. Raheem Morris has shown that he can be a good leader, but in his NFL career, he’s never been a defensive coordinator.
That doesn’t mention the changes at position coaches like the offensive line, the secondary, or linebackers. This is the most new faces to the coaching staff since Sean McVay took over in 2017. With that many revolving doors at coaching positions, it’s going to be important for this group to get on the same page. Again, with McVay in charge this shouldn’t be a huge issue, but it is certainly a question mark on this team.