Los Angeles Rams Preview: X Factor, Most Important Player, and More

by Blaine Grisak
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The Los Angeles Rams begin the season on Sunday night against the Chicago Bears. The Rams enter the season with high Super Bowl aspirations. Here is a short season preview with the Rams most important player, x-factor and more!

Most Important Player: QB Matthew Stafford

The most important player for the Los Angeles Rams is quite clearly Matthew Stafford. There is a reason why the team traded away Jared Goff and premier draft picks for Stafford. The Rams will only go as far as Matthew Stafford will take them.

The Rams believe that Stafford can get them over the hump and get them a Super Bowl title. He’s the perfect quarterback for Sean McVay’s scheme. As long as Stafford is healthy, the Rams will be in pretty good shape throughout the 2021 season. The former Lions quarterback has a lot to prove and the Rams have a lot to prove with Stafford. The state of the season depends on Stafford’s play.

X Factor: S Jordan Fuller

Last season, Jordan Fuller burst onto the scene as a rookie. In Week 1 it was Fuller who made the final stop on fourth down against the Dallas Cowboys. Later in the season, Fuller had two interceptions against fellow 199th overall pick, Tom Brady. This season, Fuller once again has big shoes to fill and is outplaying his expectations.

Fuller will replacing John Johnson III on the backed of the defense. The second year safety from Ohio State will be wearing the green dot. Additionally, he’s been named a team captain. The Rams secondary is very inexperienced and the leadership and overall play of Jordan Fuller will determine a lot of their success.

Player I’m Most Excited to Watch: WR DeSean Jackson

Last season the Los Angeles Rams offense lacked a spark. While Sean McVay was able to design plays that led to “explosive plays”, the Rams lacked that explosive player. After trading away Brandin Cooks, the offense lacked a player who could stretch the field and take the top off of defenses.

Well, this year the Rams signed DeSean Jackson in free agency. A lot will depend on Jackson’s health, but he’s exactly what the Rams offense lacked in 2020. He may be older and no longer in his prime, but he still has that same “over the top” speed. The Rams are going to give Jackson plenty of looks and if he’s able to stay healthy, he could be in for a big season.

Key 3 Game Stretch: Weeks 9-12

These three games take place over a four game stretch, but it might be the most important stretch of the season. The Rams begin this stretch in Week 9 at home against the Tennessee Titans. They then travel to San Francisco to play a division rival in the 49ers. Following a bye in Week 11, they finish up this stretch at Green Bay.

It’s going to be crucial that the Rams take two of these three games. The 49ers could be fighting for a spot at the top of the division and the Packers could be in the battle for the top-seed in the NFC. That doesn’t mention that the Titans are likely a top three or four team in the AFC. The Rams absolutely cannot go 0-3 during this stretch.

Biggest Strength: Leadership

While the offense and likely the passing game are up there as the Los Angeles Rams’ biggest strength, their overall leadership is what sets this team apart. On offense, guys like Andrew Whitworth, Cooper Kupp, and Robert Woods make a big difference. Those three were crucial in getting Matthew Stafford up to speed. Stafford brings an element of leadership and experience as well as DeSean Jackson.

On the defensive side of the ball, Aaron Donald and Jalen Ramsey are the obvious leaders of the group. However, the team will be relying on players like Sebastian Joseph-Day, A’Shawn Robinson, and Jordan Fuller to step up as well. Good teams have good leadership and the Rams have exactly that.

Biggest Weakness: New Faces/Depth

There is no denying that the Rams have a lot of new faces in the locker room and on the coaching staff. No team seemed to lose more coaches last season than the Los Angeles Rams. The only ones that did were likely staffs that got fired. The Rams have new coordinators on offense, defense, and special teams which could cause some early bumps.

Additionally, because the Rams have been strapped for cap space, they also don’t have a lot of depth. The offensive line didn’t play great during the preseason. In the secondary, the Rams also don’t have a lot of depth at cornerback and will be relying a lot on an unproven player in David Long. Opposite of Leonard Floyd, the same could be said at edge rusher. Just some things to monitor.

Bold Prediction: Stafford Wins MVP

What makes the 2021 season for the Los Angeles Rams so fascinating is that we have no idea what the Rams offense will look like. Matthew Stafford could have a career year or he could do just what the Rams need him to do. If the Rams end up as the top seed in the NFC and Stafford throws for 4500 yards and 30 touchdowns, he’ll have a very good chance to win MVP.

Season Prediction: 14-3 And Super Bowl Title

This season reminds me a lot of 2018. The 2018 schedule seemed difficult and the Rams stormed through it to a 13-3 record. The Rams played  difficult Vikings, Seahawks, and Chargers teams early on in the season and defeated all of them. The Vikings were coming off of a trip to the NFC Championship game and the Chargers finished the year 12-4. Seattle also had division title aspirations.

The point is, the Vikings game was a turning point for that team. After winning that game and the Seattle game, it seemed as if nothing was going to stop the Rams. For the most part, that was the case. It’s going to take one big win early in the season, like against Tampa Bay in Week 3, and the Rams will go on a tear.

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