The Los Angeles Rams have finished the longest season in NFL history. Coming into the year, every player had expectations. Some players blew them out of the water. Others fell short to the point where their careers are in trouble. That said, it is tough to be a net loser in a year when your team won the Super Bowl. Here’s a final look at this year’s winners and losers from a season-wide perspective.
Los Angeles Rams Winners And Losers: Full Season Recap
Cooper Kupp came into 2021 as a quality wide receiver. However, no one had him pegged to have arguably the best season in NFL history. Including his games in the playoffs, Kupp had more yards than any other wide receiver in NFL history. Meaning, he had more than all-stars like Jerry Rice, Randy Moss, Larry Fitzgerald, and Antonio Brown. Kupp beat them all, finishing with a cherry on top in earning the Super Bowl MVP. Put simply, it was a year that will follow the wide receiver forever. If he wants a media job, he’s done enough to earn one. Over the next 25 years, expect his name to pop up in places with today’s receivers of yore.
Sean McVay was getting a bit of heat in November, but look where he is now. He bet the farm in trading Jared Goff, a quarterback who got him to his first Super Bowl, for a player who had not won a playoff game. Some doubted the move, but others expected a year of growth before getting a shot at the Super Bowl (guilty). McVay did it in Stafford’s first year and not in a way that was a fluke. Heading into 2021, the team was on a trajectory to hang around in the playoff picture, but not as a Super Bowl contender as it was clear that Jared Goff wasn’t good enough to win games on his own. McVay pushed for his own guy. He bet the farm and won it all.
Odell Beckham Jr.
Odell Beckham Jr. came into 2021 with high hopes but quickly found himself on a path to nowhere with a banged-up football team. Beckham could have easily rode with the status quo, but instead decided to risk it all. He pushed to be released by the Browns with no guarantees at finding another job. However, he landed with the Rams on a one-year deal and proved to be a difference-maker in the run to the Super Bowl. ACL injury aside, the wide receiver will be either making good money elsewhere or will land with the team to “run it back” in 2022.
Matthew Stafford’s bar for improvement from a career standpoint was to get above 10 wins and win a playoff game. Instead, the quarterback won 12 games, won the division, and won four playoff games, including the Super Bowl. Heading into the playoffs, Stafford was 0-3 in playoff games. After the playoffs, he’s 4-3. Additionally, after winning the Super Bowl, he now has won as many Super Bowls as his old rival Aaron Rodgers. Of course, like a little brother, he still lost their face-to-face showdown earlier this season. However, the quarterback’s jump in career prestige could be unprecedented for a player in his mid-30s.
Heading into 2022, the soon-to-be 40-year-old lineman was likely looking for a way to end his career on a high. In winning Super Bowl LVI against his long-time employer in the Cincinnati Bengals, what more could the lineman have asked for? Whit still played great all year, but it was clear that his age was catching up to him this season more than previous years, so it could not be more of a fairy-tale ending for Andrew Whitworth.
Troy Reeder took more heat than any other Rams player this season. Many see him as a liability and the most obvious position to replace this offseason. The linebacker earned a 46.7 PFF grade in 2021. This year, the Rams will need to prioritize getting a replacement more than any other position with the arguable exception of offensive tackle. Put simply, even though he has a ring, he could be the only starter that the Rams actively look to replace in the next six months.
Sony Michel came into 2021 as a Patriot and ended as a Super Bowl-winning Los Angeles Ram. However, his future with the team is muddled, as the team treated him as an afterthought, even though he outperformed the other running backs when his time eventually came in December. While the rest of the running back room might be content to run it back, Michel’s future clearly lies elsewhere. Luckily, he was able to put enough good film on tape in his explosive December performances to get solid work with another team.
Robert Woods has been with the Los Angeles Rams for the entirety of the Sean McVay era but didn’t get to play in the culmination of all of the franchise’s work over the last five years in Super Bowl LVI. For Woods, his career was far from adversely affected by 2021. Of course, the ACL tear will loom, but this year will be looked back on as a missed opportunity for Woods. It wasn’t his fault, but the NFL could be a very cruel place, even to successful players.
Tyler Higbee came into 2021 after beating out Gerald Everett with the hopes of soaking up his additional targets and, therefore, breaking out this season. Instead, the tight end essentially trod water in terms of production, falling roughly 200 yards short of his career record of 734 yards in 2018. Looking ahead, Higbee’s spot with the team is guaranteed, but the odds of the team getting another tight end to complement him are as high as they’ve been. Coming into the year, Higbee had a chance to morph into a “Rob Gronkowski,” or “George Kittle.” Instead, he’s proven to be the same ol’ guy.