In 2018, the Rams were able to mostly coast through the season en route to a Super Bowl appearance. 2019 is a very different story. With injuries, mid-season roster turnover, an aging scheme, and glaring holes in Jared Goff’s skillset, the Rams now have a plethora of issues to work through. Here is a summary of the major issues plaguing the team this year as they prepare to enter week seven.
A Summary Of Major Rams Issues
The Los Angeles Rams have been rocked by injuries during the month of October. On defense, linebacker Clay Matthews is out with a broken jaw, starting cornerback Aqib Talib is heading to the injured reserve with a rib injury, and starting safety John Johnson will now be joining him due to a shoulder injury. On offense, running backs Todd Gurley and Malcolm Brown are questionable with quadriceps and ankle injuries, respectively. In addition, Joseph Noteboom is now out for the season with an ACL and MCL tear.
Finally, wide receiver Brandin Cooks and safety Taylor Rapp have been injured within the last couple of weeks. Although now recovered, Cooks and Rapp could still take time to get back into perfect football shape.
Next Man Up
As outlined above, the Rams have had eight players suffer impactful injuries during the month of October. In response to the overwhelmed roster, the Rams have made some moves.
The Rams traded cornerback Marcus Peters to Baltimore for linebacker Kenny Young and a fifth-round pick. The trade comes as a response to the poor performances of Bryce Hager, who was meant to backup Micah Kiser before Kiser’s season-ending injury. After trading one cornerback away, the Rams picked up another. For the price of a first-round pick in 2020 and 2021, Jacksonville’s number-one cornerback Jalen Ramsey will now become Jalen “Rams”-ey as he is now in Los Angeles.
The trade of Peters and acquisition of Ramsey was a preemptive move to avoid a repeat of what happened last year when Peters repeatedly failed to step into Aqib Talib’s role as a number-one cornerback.
Additionally, the Rams picked up offensive lineman Austin Corbett to bolster a position group that is underperforming and arguably on its last legs with the injury to Joseph Noteboom. Corbett was acquired from the Cleveland Browns for an undisclosed 2021 pick. Corbett was a backup in Cleveland although picked in the second round of the 2018 NFL Draft. It seems that the expectation for Corbett is to at least challenge newly promoted guard David Edwards for his new spot in relief of Noteboom and to possibly slide into a spot in the starting lineup next season.
There have been a plethora of injuries and several moves made to plug the holes. Assuming all of the changes have been put in place, what problems still exist on the Rams roster now?
The result of these changes is a damaged secondary that is leaning almost entirely on unproven players with the exception of a 34-year-old Eric Weddle and cornerbacks Nickell Robey-Coleman and Jalen Ramsey. At running back, the Rams are very unstable with Todd Gurley and Malcolm Brown day-to-day with injuries. If they can’t play, the team will be leaning heavily on unproven back Darrell Henderson.
The offensive line is still sketchy with a struggling Brian Allen at center and rookie David Edwards locked into a battle with Austin Corbett for the substitute starting job. At tackle, Andrew Whitworth appears to be showing his age and Rob Havenstein isn’t “haven” the season that the Rams need.
Basically, the Rams now have a team that has a defense with a largely unproven secondary that will be leaning on a double-teamed Aaron Donald, an old Eric Weddle, and a Jalen Ramsey who can be schemed away from and who will also need some time to learn the system. Dante Fowler seems to be the only big-named starter that can be expected to have a chance to single-handedly make up the difference. Meanwhile on offense, the Rams currently have a team that will struggle to run the ball due to an injured running back group and a diminished offensive line that is having trouble run-blocking and giving Jared Goff clean pockets to throw from.
Goff Is Off
Speaking of Jared Goff, 2019 has shown glaring issues in his skillset. On most plays, it seems that Goff is only a one-or-two read quarterback. Meaning, it is rare that he looks for a third or fourth target when going through his progressions.
In the past, thanks to Sean McVay’s scheme, this hasn’t been an issue as the play designs have been able to get the first receiver open almost automatically on the majority of the passing plays, thus not requiring Goff to think about a third or fourth target often. However, as the sheen of McVay’s scheme continues to wear off, it puts more pressure on Goff to think his way through each play, which he is not doing well. This means that he is often forcing the ball to receivers when they are not open, creating the potential for calamity.
Finally, he is unable to adapt to pressure, which means more sacks and potential for mistakes and unwise decisions. Statistically, Goff is in the dumps at seven touchdowns and seven interceptions after six games and it isn’t getting better. The Rams quarterback is coming off arguably his worst game of the season, finishing with only 78 yards and no touchdowns and no interceptions against the San Francisco 49ers. At the end of the day, for these reasons, Goff is on the precipice of being labeled a sub-par quarterback in spite of his recent accomplishments.
Issues, Issues everywhere
Looking at the Rams, problems are everywhere. What was once the new shiny Ferrari of the NFL has become an old, rusty jalopy overnight. With the older players getting hurt and slowing down, the younger players underperforming and also getting hurt, the offensive scheme aging rapidly and a quarterback that is showing cracks in his skillset, the result is a team in a nosedive and on the brink. With the acquisition of Jalen Ramsey, the Rams seem to think the solution is to use extra resources on the defense in order to help it bring down the opposing team’s score so it comes closer to the lower offensive points. Will it work? If not, the Rams might be in a hole for quite some time.