After making it to the Super Bowl, the odds were stacked against the Los Angeles Rams doing much better this season. A number of their key players were lost to free agency while others are aging and likely to see a drop off in production. Moreover, the NFC West should be a much more competitive division in 2019 as the Cardinals and 49ers both improved significantly over this offseason.
Teams Who Will Regress 2019: Los Angeles Rams
The Rams sported a top 10 offensive line in 2018, but they lost guard Rodger Saffold to free agency and chose not to pick up center John Sullivan’s option. They will rely on unproven linemen Joseph Noteboom and Brian Allen to replace them. Left tackle Andrew Whitworth is only two years from being an All-Pro lineman, but he turns 38 this December and may also struggle to retain his efficiency. Jared Goff is not an elite quarterback and will likely struggle without an elite offensive line to protect him.
The status of Todd Gurley’s knee leaves room for doubt as well. Rookie running back Darrell Henderson should thrive in Sean McVay’s scheme, but no one can be expected to replicate Todd Gurley’s production as a rookie. Cooper Kupp, the main chain mover within this offense, is coming back from an ACL tear this season. He may also not be up to par. Certainly, this offense will still be one of the better ones in the league, but it’s doubtful they will be in contention for the league’s best.
The Rams lost a few key contributors on their defense. One of their biggest losses this offseason was nose tackle Ndamukong Suh. Edge rusher Dante Fowler has been unspectacular so far, and the aging Clay Matthews will be playing on the opposite side. This will put a lot of pressure on linemen Aaron Donald and Michael Brockers to get to the quarterback from the inside. Linebacker Mark Barron was supposed to be replaced by Micah Kiser, but the latter injured his pectoral muscle this preseason and will be unable to play indefinitely.
In the secondary, the Rams swapped out Lamarcus Joyner for former All-Pro Eric Weddle. Their two starting cornerback positions are occupied by Aqib Talib and Marcus Peters. Rookie Taylor Rapp looks like he might be a starter at strong safety. This secondary has the potential to be amazing. However, Eric Weddle is 34, and Aqib Talib is 33 and coming off an injury-riddled season. Marcus Peters’ performance was abysmal for as long as Aqib Talib was out. The Rams do not have a lot of depth in the secondary. If there are any injuries, the secondary could struggle.
The Rams look to regress in 2019 after their Super Bowl run last season. While they were able to make up for some of their losses, such as by acquiring Eric Weddle to replace Lamarcus Joyner, they were unable to find apt replacements for other departures. The nose tackle position and linebacker corps remain questionable. On the other side of the ball, the offensive line lost key pieces on the interior in Rodger Saffold and John Sullivan. Todd Gurley’s knee is perhaps the most concerning factor for the Rams. He is a superstar when healthy, but the dropoff in production was huge after his injury.
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