Ramblin on: 10 LA Rams news offseason observations

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CoachAllred

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Ramblin on: 10 LA Rams news offseason observations

by Bret Stuter


The LA Rams had to find nearly $50 million in NFL salary-cap space before the start of the new season. That triggered a series of restructured contracts, and by doing so the team managed to squeeze under the $182.5 million ceiling. That set the stage for minimal expectations this offseason. The Rams organization was never going to ‘wow’ in the 2021 NFL Free Agency market, especially not after wowing the 2021 NFL headlines with one more blockbuster trade:

Which trade? This time the Rams packaged QB Jared Goff and a trio of picks for Detroit Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford. But in the process, the team triggered another huge poison pill of dead cap space that crippled the Rams’ chances to sign large contracts or numbers of free agents.

Do the Rams try to trigger dead cap space? They’ve been pretty successful at it if that was the goal. If not, well then they are pretty bad at this stuff. Per Spotrac.com, the LA Rams swallowed $39.3 million in dead cap space in 2021. That is coming off the $38.5 million in dead cap space in 2020. Hey, I get it. The Rams love to take chances. But at nearly $80 million in dead cap space over two seasons? It would make sense to make it a corporate goal to do better at that in the future.

1. The LA Rams did not have a lot of money to spend in 2021. In fact, the team was well over the salary cap ($40 million) and was the last team to officially make moves to squeeze under the cap. In fact, neither Spotrac nor OverTheCap.com reflects that the Rams are under the salary cap yet.

2. Did anyone else find it interesting just how many players were tapped to restructure their contracts? By the last count, it was five: Andrew Whitworth, Jalen Ramsey, Robert Woods, Cooper Kupp, and of course Aaron Donald. I also found it interesting that Michael Brockers was traded. We noticed that the Rams were spending more on the defensive line than any other team. Suddenly the Rams were compelled to trade Michael Brockers, a veteran player of unquestioned integrity? Pretty convenient.

3. While so many are keen to point out who the LA Rams lost, did you notice who was re-signed? DB Darious Williams just made economic sense. But the teams brought back OLB Leonard Floyd on a four-year deal. Folks, this defense still has Aaron Donald, Jalen Ramsey, Darious Williams, Jordan Fuller, Sebastian Joseph Day, They may not be ‘tops’ in the NFL, but they will still be a top-ten defense.

4. Is this the year for young players to make noise? The Rams have practically ended their off-season shopping spree. You know, signing WR DeSean Jackson. Now the Rams must hope that younger players step up on the defensive line, linebacker, edge rusher, secondary, offensive line, wide receiver, and tight end. In fact, the only position where the Rams won’t be looking for a youth movement is the quarterback position, where the team has gotten significantly older with Matthew Stafford.

5. While the Rams will be counting on youth to round out the roster, the team has solid veteran leadership in place at both offense and defense. Andrew Whitworth, Robert Woods, and Matthew Stafford on offense, while Aaron Donald and Jalen Ramsey will lead on defense.

6. I’m eager to see what the Rams special teams will do under their new coordinator Joe DeCamillis. I think placekicker Matt Gay is indeed the real deal. I’m concerned that punter Johnny Hekker has seen his best playing days, but perhaps DeCamillis can help rejuvenate the All-Pro punter. Can the Rams upgrade returns and coverage units this year? Please?

7. The fact that the LA Rams loaded up during the 2020 draft class depth at safety, defensive line, and wide receiver could pay dividends this year. With almost no time to learn the playbook a year ago, the Rams redshirted nearly a dozen players. They practiced, they were coached up, they worked out. Now, the question is, will they be ready to play? It would be nice if they were.

8. If you think that the Rams will send out the same ole offense in 2021, I think you will be drastically surprised. The Rams have a new quarterback, a new feature running back, a new tight end group, and a new secret weapon in WR DeSean Jackson. The team will be pass-heavy again but don’t be surprised if the team features RB Cam Akers in both the running and passing game.

9. Speaking of offense, I will be at the edge of my seat to see how the Rams handle the infamous zero coverage blitz in 2021. Right now, my first thought is to go empty backfield and score a quick TD with a go route from DeSean Jackson. That ought to make defenses think twice about throwing the kitchen sink at the Rams quarterback.


10. And one more thought about the LA Rams signing of DeSean Jackson. The Rams wanted to get more explosive on offense. Well, they just signed nitroglycerin. DJax has averaged 17.4 yards per catch over his entire career. Under McVay at Washington, that number jumps to 19.0 yards per catch. Jackson leads the NFL in yards per catch. He also leads all NFL players in 40-plus-yard receptions (63) since 2008, further solidifying his status as one of the most productive receivers in the league. The LA Rams wanted a weapon. They may have overshot the mark. But one great factoid: Because the Philadelphia Eagles released DJax, he will not offset any awarded compensatory picks. A nice bonus.
 

CGI_Ram

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10. And one more thought about the LA Rams signing of DeSean Jackson. The Rams wanted to get more explosive on offense. Well, they just signed nitroglycerin. DJax has averaged 17.4 yards per catch over his entire career. Under McVay at Washington, that number jumps to 19.0 yards per catch. Jackson leads the NFL in yards per catch. He also leads all NFL players in 40-plus-yard receptions (63) since 2008, further solidifying his status as one of the most productive receivers in the league. The LA Rams wanted a weapon. They may have overshot the mark. But one great factoid: Because the Philadelphia Eagles released DJax, he will not offset any awarded compensatory picks. A nice bonus.
This may go down as a free agent we totally slept on. Put me in that category, anyway.

The more I digest this move, the more I think the Rams know EXACTLY what Jackson does for the offense - immediately.

Regardless the stats he ends up with, the defense must account for Jackson out there. Can we say the same about Reynolds last year?


DB Darious Williams just made economic sense. But the teams brought back OLB Leonard Floyd on a four-year deal. Folks, this defense still has Aaron Donald, Jalen Ramsey, Darious Williams, Jordan Fuller, Sebastian Joseph Day, They may not be ‘tops’ in the NFL, but they will still be a top-ten defense.
Ditto for the offense.

Stafford, Woods, Kupp, Akers, Higbee. The core is solid.

Woo hoo! Is it opening day yet?
 

oldnotdead

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Floyd and Williams were the obvious priority re-signings. The core of this team is still intact. The losses in FA were IMO expected and the Rams had already drafted the replacements, i.e. guys like Burgess for Johnson, Lewis for Brockers, and Hopkins for Everett. Guys like Hoecht, J. Williams will be expected to play rotational roles this year. It will be interesting if vets like Sebas and Havenstein aren't traded as their replacements are already on the team in Gaines and Edwards/Noteboom. It would open up about $6-$7M in cap. The obvious trade partner would be the Chargers since Staley knows both players and would fill holes in the Chargers roster. Two starters for a #47 pick is a good deal for both teams. The Chargers have a lot of holes in their roster, and the trade would be an immediate fix for two of them.

Offensively I think the run game will change from a perimeter attack to an inside power game. They simply need a FB as a lead blocker. The Rams scout the Senior Bowl well and a standout FB flashed there. Rhamondre Stevenson would be a good replacement for Brown. He's 6' at 232 lbs, runs a 4.56 40 yd, run and pass blocks well. Stevenson is a good receiver and a strong runner and would fill the role of #3 RB and short-yardage back. He was suspended late in the 2019 season for marijuana but apparently was clean before and since. He looks like a 3rd maybe a 4th round pick.

Other than the outside zone run attack I think McVay's offense will be very similar to his 2018 version. I think the transition to an inside run game factored into the Rams not making an offer to Blythe. If that is the way they want to go, Shelton would be a better option at center, as he's bigger, stronger and plays with an attitude.

In the passing game he has a vet QB with the arm strength and accuracy to make every throw with accuracy. Stafford is very good at reading coverages and is decisive. Most of all he's careful with the ball.
 
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Flint

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Djax will certainly get some attention this year but will we ever find out how they tried to attack zero coverage last year? We assume this was part of the failing relationship between coach and qb.
 

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I don't think Hekker's days are behind him.

I think after his punt in Miami was returned for a TD, that Hekker had to completely change his punting style so that returns would not be an issue again.

Man our coverage teams were terrible last year.
 

El Chapo Jr

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Floyd and Williams were the obvious priority re-signings. The core of this team is still intact. The losses in FA were IMO expected and the Rams had already drafted the replacements, i.e. guys like Burgess for Johnson, Lewis for Brockers, and Hopkins for Everett. Guys like Hoecht, J. Williams will be expected to play rotational roles this year. It will be interesting if vets like Sebas and Havenstein aren't traded as their replacements are already on the team in Gaines and Edwards/Noteboom. It would open up about $6-$7M in cap. The obvious trade partner would be the Chargers since Staley knows both players and would fill holes in the Chargers roster. Two starters for a #47 pick is a good deal for both teams. The Chargers have a lot of holes in their roster, and the trade would be an immediate fix for two of them.

Offensively I think the run game will change from a perimeter attack to an inside power game. They simply need a FB as a lead blocker. The Rams scout the Senior Bowl well and a standout FB flashed there. Rhamondre Stevenson would be a good replacement for Brown. He's 6' at 232 lbs, runs a 4.56 40 yd, run and pass blocks well. Stevenson is a good receiver and a strong runner and would fill the role of #3 RB and short-yardage back. He was suspended late in the 2019 season for marijuana but apparently was clean before and since. He looks like a 3rd maybe a 4th round pick.

Other than the outside zone run attack I think McVay's offense will be very similar to his 2018 version. I think the transition to an inside run game factored into the Rams not making an offer to Blythe. If that is the way they want to go, Shelton would be a better option at center, as he's bigger, stronger and plays with an attitude.

In the passing game he has a vet QB with the arm strength and accuracy to make every throw with accuracy. Stafford is very good at reading coverages and is decisive. Most of all he's careful with the ball.
Nice. I talked about Rhamondre Stevenson awhile back at RB as solid addition if he falls in the draft to be our big back. No one on our current roster has his size. One of my favorite big RBs from the draft.
 

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Yeah, Hekker was making sure not to outkick the coverage this past year.

Also, a lot of his punts were between the 40s so he wasn't gonna put up 60+ yard punts.

But yeah, better coverage will lead to better distance from Hekker as he will be able to trust them to properly cover.
 

Psycho_X

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This may go down as a free agent we totally slept on. Put me in that category, anyway.

The more I digest this move, the more I think the Rams know EXACTLY what Jackson does for the offense - immediately.

Regardless the stats he ends up with, the defense must account for Jackson out there. Can we say the same about Reynolds last year?




Ditto for the offense.

Stafford, Woods, Kupp, Akers, Higbee. The core is solid.

Woo hoo! Is it opening day yet?
Absolutely, Djax is a huge piece for McVay to exploit defenses without prejudice. But he has to be playing. If DJax stays healthy for most of a season and the playoffs this offense will be freaking awesome to watch... possibly the best we've had under McVay. But he's got to stay healthy. Pray to the injury gods.
 

Tano

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Absolutely, Djax is a huge piece for McVay to exploit defenses without prejudice. But he has to be playing. If DJax stays healthy for most of a season and the playoffs this offense will be freaking awesome to watch... possibly the best we've had under McVay. But he's got to stay healthy. Pray to the injury gods.
If they can do better than the 2018 offense, we are winning the superbowl this year with our defense.
 

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This may go down as a free agent we totally slept on. Put me in that category, anyway.

The more I digest this move, the more I think the Rams know EXACTLY what Jackson does for the offense - immediately.

Regardless the stats he ends up with, the defense must account for Jackson out there. Can we say the same about Reynolds last year?




Ditto for the offense.

Stafford, Woods, Kupp, Akers, Higbee. The core is solid.

Woo hoo! Is it opening day yet?
I’ll start by the lack of hope or talk about The Offensive Line.Where did The Rams get younger on Offense AT ALL?? Talk about Reynolds,well Van Jefferson & some Ram players were pissed he didn’t get more playing time.He is just an added figure as well,but he is no real rookie to The NFL.

Akers is brought up ? HENDO will be another guy in zero packages.I bet he lined up more that way than Akers or Brown? Either way The Rams have 2 young RB’s that will play special teams.They also are going to have to be counted on at some point.
—Akers is 15-20 pounds heavier than them.

DL ?? A” Robinson missed 1st 1/2 of season.He should be a starter.He is a veteran more in his prime than Brockers.(Demoff takes care of players),Brockers was a Raven before being the bridge gap. Gaines is going into 3rd year.Those 3 rookie DLmann are depth.You like to see growth.

LB ? You look at the position & look back at 2020.The Rams had injury & growth.We can go down the list. I have d- post that will address that.

Just 2018 draft— ??? vs. 2017 ???
My view is this is the season for returns of draft picks.

Hopkins vs Everett??? Mundt & Blanton have been in the system.
There is a blank in NFL experience & stats. —The Rams will add a TE.
Everett played FB in sets. -Draft FB?

The Rams need a CB
.practice squad Juju ? deayton?
Les Snead (Mcvay) is always going to find DB’s in drafts. 2018 maybe not ?

special teams- new Long snapper is a question Mark even more than Gay.Johnny is Johnny- He still is a top Punter.

New Coaching Staff was not brought up?? Plus having the same OC in O’Connell is a plus. Morris I like in the long run.The Rams will get a Comp pick if not,so finally some insurance if McVays tree keeps growing.
Training camp?? In 2020 practices Mcvay must have lost confidence in play calling going up against The #1 Defense in The NFL.