The Los Angles Rams Have Needs
Cam Akers and Sean McVay can’t see eye to eye and so they have mutually agreed to seek a “fresh start” for Akers. This leaves the Ram’s already ineffective offensive backfield yet another man down. There is optimism that Kyren Williams will return after the bye, but the rookie has been injured since spring practices. Which certainly leaves plenty of unanswered questions.
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The Los Angles Rams offensive line has been stupefyingly injured and because of that, the cupboards are getting bare. While the Rams defense has been good, they rank dead last in quarterback pressure with just 26 pressures per Pro Football Reference. Aaron Donald alone accounts for 27 percent of that pressure (7). Combined the Rams outside linebackers have accrued just one more pressure than Donald. (Leonard Floyd-4, Terrell Lewis-2, Justin Hollins-2)
Here In Lies The Conundrum
The Rams have some significant needs and don’t have a lot of resources to trade away. This means they won’t be able to address ALL their concerns before the November 1st deadline. So they will need to focus their resources and pinpoint the area of highest concern(s). To do this we will need to employ LAFB’s patented Concer-o-Meter. We were able to patent it because ours goes to 11.
Concern-o-Meter: Ours goes to 11
Until Williams returns the Rams have Darrell Henderson, Malcolm Brown, and Ronnie Rivers to work with in the backfield. In a very small one-game sampling, they rushed for 3.1 yards per carry. Not great. It’s hard to say they will make huge strides in the right direction with those horses in the backfield. Both Brown and Henderson bring plenty of value as pass blockers, which is essential for a team struggling to keep Matthew Stafford off the turf.
What exactly McVay wants the run game to BE is hard to ascertain at the moment. But if past evidence is indicative, it’s not his preference to run the ball very much and he proved last year that he can operate a great offense without a top-of-the-line running back.
Obviously, the Rams were interested in acquiring one, in Christian McCaffrey, but we also know just how far they will (or won’t) go to make it happen. As reported by The Athletic’s Jourdan Rodrigue, the Rams may have agreed to a 2023 2nd, a future 3rd, and maybe a player. There are only a few people that could be that ‘maybe’ player. Akers would be the obvious choice since he is the only player the Rams are publicly shopping around.
With that offer, the best shot would be to go to a rebuilding team that has a player on the last year of their deal, or a veteran that isn’t a part of the team’s three-year plan. A competitive team would not part ways with a good asset of any age.
Concern-o-Meter: 7 out of 11
With limited assets to trade, the Rams may be best served to move forward with the band-aides in the backfield and trust that Williams will be worth having traded up for in the draft. They could offer up Akers and a late-round pick to sweeten a deal for an Alexander Mattison-like back. Although adding yet another mediocre running back won’t solve the problem, it may ‘Sony Michel’ it. Which may be good enough to get Williams worked into the fold.
The Rams held Brian Burns to just one pressure in Week 6 and Alaric Jackson was a big reason they were able to do that. Jackson has also been one of the bright spots since moving into the starting lineup. The good news for the Rams is that they will get better once they start to heal. The is a chance that Brian Allen may start after the bye week and Coleman Shelton won’t miss the entire season with his ankle injury.
The Rams have taken strides to shore up the interior by signing Matt Skura and Oday Aboushi and added tackle Ty Nsekhe to add much-needed depth on the outside. The 10-year veteran has played on both the left and the right side and played mainly as a left tackle last season, playing 144 snaps with the Dallas Cowboys last season.
Concern-o-Meter: 5 out of 11
The Rams have faced two teams that rank in the top 14 in offensive DVOA. They are the Bills and the Falcons, who are currently number one and seven respectively. (The 49ers are 15th) While the soft zones and non-existent pass rush worked against the others, it did not against Buffalo and the Rams struggled to cap off Arthur Smith’s offense in their eventual win against Atlanta.
Going forward they will face Kansas City, Seattle (Twice), Green Bay, and the Chargers. All are in the top 14. They will also face an improved offense from San Francisco with McCaffrey, the Cardinals with DeAndre Hopkins, and Tampa Bay, who is assumed to get better because; Tom Brady. That’s eight of their remaining 11 games. Not to mention, bad offensive teams rarely make the playoffs, so the Rams will have to go through more good offenses to last in the playoffs.
The fastest way to stall an offense is to harass the quarterback. This defense can’t do that.
A band-aid can work in the running game, and regaining health will help the offensive line, but the Rams pass rush has been weighed and measured and has been found wanting.
Concern-o-Meter: 10 out of 11
Unfortunately for the Rams, pass rushers are the second or third most important position on a football field today. Good ones don’t come cheap. Even though Carolina is in full-on Black Friday mode, Brian Burns will garner a load that could surpass McCaffrey. He’s 24 and already one of the best pass rushers in the league. It’s hard to imagine his trade not including first-round picks.
A more approachable option that the Rams could afford is Robert Quinn. He is 32 with two years left on his contract. He hasn’t made much of a case for himself this season with only five pressures and one sack. But just last year he had 18.5 sacks, the Bears single-season record. The Bears are certainly looking to the future and have several young defenders that are rushing passers very well.
Akers could be a part of this deal. It doesn’t provide the best place for the running back to make a ‘fresh start,’ but at the very least he will get some touches. The Bears have the fourth-most attempts and second-most rushing yards in the league.
Could The Rams Go Even All-Inner?
Of course, when it comes to trades the Rams cannot be slept on. There is always a chance they could go even more all-inner than they have before. This may involve moving on from not just draft picks. Players would be needed to sweeten an ‘all-in’ type deal. A 2024 first-round pick is only so enticing in a league that lives for today. But a second and a third-round pick was able to get Von Miller.
It would be near sacrilege to speculate on which fan-beloved Ram could be traded away, but the Rams have shown that they will move on from even the most anointed players. The rooms with the most meat to spare are the wide receivers and the secondary.
I would still argue that if they make a splash trade they still go for an edge rusher. Brian Burns re-enters the conversation if there was more compensation for the Panthers. Montez Sweat would be one to consider.
If the Rams were to go the running back route, he would have to be a game-changer. Someone McVay would be willing to shape the offense around. Josh Jacobs has been mentioned in trade speculation. The Raiders year isn’t going as planned as they currently sit at the bottom of the AFC West with one win. Jacobs is still producing. He averages 5.4 yards per rush and is currently PFF’s top-graded running back while they have the Raiders graded as the 26th-best run-blocking team. In his four seasons, Jacobs has had three head coaches and only once made the playoffs. LA would make for a soft landing spot with a bonafide offensive genius. Akers would need to be included as the Raiders don’t have another prominent runner rostered.
Washington’s Antonio Gibson’s name has been bandied about in trade rumors, but a far more intriguing would be J.D. McKissic and this one wouldn’t break the bank. McKissic is 29 and in his 7th season. He’s never been used fully as a running back despite his career of 4.4 yards per carry. He started as wide receiver in fact and is featured prominently in the Washington passing game. McKissic surely isn’t McCaffrey, but he would be very useful to McVay.