The Los Angeles Rams look to kick off their third season since returning to the City of Angels, and are priming for a long Playoff run. Unfortunately, with the way it is being built, the Rams are looking only at the 2018 season. They’re chasing Super Bowl 53.
Yesterdays trade for Brandin Cooks from the New England Patriots made this blatantly clear. The Rams want a Lombardi trophy now. They watched the Philadelphia Eagles rise from the ashes with the quarterback they passed on drafting to take Jared Goff instead. Now, it seems as if they have something to prove. A chip on their shoulder.
Let’s look at this busy offseason that the Rams have put together.
Rams are priming for Super Bowl 53 run
The Marcus Peters trade
The Rams started this offseason by acquiring former Kansas City Chiefs cornerback Marcus Peters. Easily a top ten cornerback in the league, Peters seems to have aggravated the wrong people in Kansas City. His on the field antics (yes, I said on the field) have been entirely distracting to the Chiefs playoff runs. On Monday Night football week four, he was the only player to sit through the national anthem and moment of silence for fallen police officers. Week thirteen, he threw an officials penalty flag into the stands after getting called for pass interference.
Despite these character issues, Peters is a shutdown cornerback. Over three seasons, he has intercepted 19 passes and broken up another 55. Not many receivers have been able to figure him out and last season he saw fewer targets then he had in either of his first two seasons.
One of the Rams biggest weaknesses last season was the secondary, which explains why they traded for Peters. He is an instant upgrade, and should be a huge playmaker in the NFC next season, making yet another pro bowl run.
The Aqib Talib trade
Remember how one of the biggest weaknesses the Rams had last season was their secondary? Well, the Rams certainly got the memo. Once former Denver Broncos cornerback Aqib Talib hit the open market, the Rams bought in, and made another trade.
Talib is a veteran presence who is passionate about the game, and seems to have a personal vendetta against Michael Crabtree. The two engaged in fights throughout the 2017 season on the field, one time even being ejected from the game. Even now as he ages past his prime and moves into the later stages of his career, Talib is an upgrade for the Rams.
Signing Ndamukong Suh
The Rams have arguably the best defensive player in the league in defensive tackle Aaron Donald. He’s the new breed of defensive tackle, a run stuffer, pass rusher and athletic enough to drop into a zone coverage. Donald is that guy you created on your Madden 05 as a cheat code.
Add Ndamukong Suh, and the Rams now have one of the most fearsome defensive fronts in pro football. Suh is a game wrecker. Violent, crushing and intense, he is one of the toughest men to block on the field. He plays the run very well, and can rush the passer. Suh and Donald are very much alike, and that’s what makes this intimidating if you are an opposing team.
The Brandin Cooks trade
One year after acquiring Brandin Cooks from the New Orleans Saints, the Patriots decided to ship him out. Now the Rams have added a better version of Tavon Austin to their squad to be a threat out of the slot.
Adding Cooks gives Goff an interesting stable of receivers to throw to. With Cooper Kupp’s rookie season going better then planned, and Robert Woods having a great 2017 season, Cooks being added to the mix is certainly intriguing. It’s a young trio, but a quick and fast one.
What the Rams are missing
The Rams need linebackers. The outside guys are unproven and probably the weakest duo in the league. Bryce Hager and Mark Barron play the inside spots, and again is among the weakest in the league. It appears that they want to use the defensive line and secondary to mask the obvious weakness in the middle of the field.
The next key slot is depth at the offensive line. It is very rare to see an offensive line stay intact through an entire NFL season without injuries. If someone goes down, its a serious liability that the Rams are going to need to fix.
Lamarcus Joyner is an incredibly athletic player, and he has done an excellent job in his career thus far. However, he and John Johnson playing safeties do not excite me. Joyner is undersized, standing at just 5’8″ and 185 lbs. Yes, the cornerbacks might look better,`but the Rams have a ways to go before they can compete with a high octane offense.
What to expect from the Rams
Long term success isn’t what the Rams have in mind right now. Next season, they are going to have to resign Donald, and after that Todd Gurley. The players that they have acquired won’t be in Los Angeles much longer then a year.
The middle of the field is too wide open on defense for the Rams to sustain defensive success. The offense should be one of the best in the league again. It appears that they hope to outscore the opposition all season long. Unless they pick up a few serious steals in the draft, the Rams are going to be close to the Super Bowl, but a competitive NFC makes it hard to secure a spot to the game. It’s not very likely that the Rams play in Super Bowl 53.
You never know, though. Nobody saw the Eagles winning Super Bowl 52 at this point last season.
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