The shine on the over-hyped Sean McVay has worn off ever since he led his team to the lowest scoring output in Super Bowl history.
No, the Rams weren’t a tire-fire in 2019. They still won nine games and would’ve made the playoffs as a seventh seed under the NFL’s new postseason format.
But there’s reason to believe the Rams’ decline will only continue.
The biggest concern revolves around their starting quarterback. Jared Goff is sporting a mere 82.2 passer rating through his last 24 games played. For context, Joe Flacco held the NFL’s worst passer rating among qualified quarterbacks last season at 85.1.
Goff’s regression is unsurprisingly connected to the Rams’ offensive line. Pro Football Focus graded them out as the second worst blocking unit from the 2019 season. Los Angeles is banking on their young guys upfront to develop and improve moving forward. Might be wishful thinking.
The Rams’ defense was the strength of last year’s team, finishing ninth in DVOA compared to their 17th-ranked offense. But now Wade Phillips — often heralded as one of the league’s best defensive coordinators — is gone. They also lost one of the game’s top slot cornerbacks in Nickell Robey-Coleman, who was scooped up by the Eagles. The Rams do still have the fearsome Aaron Donald, which is pretty important, and they also have Jalen Ramsey returning after trading for him last season.
The 2020 Rams shouldn’t fall as far to being one of the NFL’s bottom five teams but they’re hardly a lock to make the playoffs. McVay does a good job with some things but he’s not nearly as great as he was once made out to be. Goff’s struggles are a big issue. The defense might be OK but that won’t matter much if the offense can’t get off the ground.
Oh, and the Rams’ fortunate injury luck is bound to run out at some point, right? They were the 10th healthiest team in 2019, the fourth healthiest in 2018, and THE healthiest in 2017. We’ve yet to see how McVay handles the kind of adversity that Doug Pederson has had to deal with.
Speaking of, Pederson is 2-0 against McVay in games where the Eagles head coach had to play his backup quarterback. He’ll hopefully have Carson Wentz for the entire meeting this time around. The expectation here is that the Eagles will demonstrate they have the better head coach-quarterback duo as they fly to victory.
Read on for more Rams insight from our SB Nation colleagues over at Turf Show Times.
Notable free agency additions: LB Leonard Floyd, NT A’Shawn Robinson
Over/under 10 wins? Under
Rookie I’m most excited about: RB Cam Akers is the most likely rookie running back to start and be his team’s primary back. In replacing Todd Gurley, the hope is that Akers can at least be better than the 2019 Gurley, if not develop into the near-MVP level talent producer that Gurley was from 2017-2018.
Best position battle heading into training camp: It may not sound exciting but center has got to be solidified and upgraded for Sean McVay’s offense to hum as well as it did during his first two seasons. With veteran John Sullivan manning the position, the offensive line was one of the best units anywhere in the league. Many great teams have had great centers. LA struggled everywhere along the line last season but knowing that Andrew Whitworth could rebound at left tackle, the next-best spot to get right would be center. They re-signed Austin Blythe to a one-year deal and will be bringing back former Browns second rounder Austin Corbett and those two should be the favorites headed into camp. Brian Allen, a fourth round pick in 2018, was the main guy there last season and it was a disaster. He’ll also be back. Undrafted free agent rookie Cohl Cabral is the unknown player in the mix here and that would be shocking but the Rams don’t have a strong favorite as of yet.
Biggest storyline heading into training camp: The opening of SoFi Stadium. This is obviously not the first time that the NFL has tried putting teams in Los Angeles. It lost the Rams once. It lost the Raiders once. It doesn’t want to lose the Rams again and even wants to hang onto the Chargers. So much so that Hard Knocks is covering both teams as they prepare to debut their multi-billion dollar state of the art stadium in the fall. LA needs more than good football, they need entertainment. And what is Southern California’s most famous and most successful entertainment venue of all-time? Disneyland. That’s why Rams owner Stan Kroenke didn’t just build a stadium, he built a 300-acre shopping and entertainment hub called Hollywood Park, with SoFi as its main attraction. Of course, those plans have been shifted due to the coronavirus pandemic, putting a damper on the opening of SoFi already. But the goal is no different: make the Rams a must-see show that is as a part of Los Angeles as the Lakers or Disneyland. SoFi is the star for Kroenke right now.
Under-the-radar storyline heading into training camp: It’s not under the radar for Rams fans but maybe because there’s been so many rumors around so many NFL players this offseason we’ve lost sight of the fact that Jalen Ramsey is also looking for an extension. Set to be a free agent in 2021, Ramsey made it clear that he won’t fuss or holdout and he’ll play out the fifth year option on his deal. But I’m sure that all sides would be happier if they knew that they had locked down their lockdown cornerback before reaching 2021. The Rams have a number of key free agents next year though and given their cap constraints, seem destined to lose one or two notable players. Ramsey seems certain to not be one of them given that they parted with two first round picks for him. If they don’t extend him, it’ll be harder to sell new fans on the idea that the franchise is making smart moves for the future.
Notable injuries heading into training camp: N/A
Will the Eagles beat the Rams?
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