With The Odell Beckham Jr Signing, The Rams Go All In (Again)
The Rams have once again gone all in. Everyone thought they were all in after adding Jalen Ramsey. They also thought that when they traded for Matthew Stafford. Then the Rams added Von Miller. That has to be all in. It’s probably the most “all-in” a team has ever gone.
But no. Now the Rams have (finally now actually) gone all-in by adding Odell Beckham Jr. Well, maybe not ALL in. Who knows what this Ram’s front office has up its sleeve for the next few months! That said, if anyone is shocked that the Rams went all in again, they haven’t been paying attention to what Les Snead is doing here.
It may seem like a wild swing, but adding Beckham is actually a measured bet that builds on top of a series of bets that have turned out to be winning bets for Snead. He has won bets like adding the youngest head coach in modern NFL history. Like hiring smart coordinators to develop young talent. Like trading first-round draft picks for bonafide established talent.
Betting on Stafford and Ramsey and McVay and all the others have worked out very well. And it has put the Rams in contention for the big jackpot. Now he is doubling down on those bets by adding more talent that will position the Rams to get back to the Super Bowl, and this time win it.
The Downside of Betting on Beckham
Like any bet, adding Beckham isn’t without its risks. There are certainly his detractors out there that will lay out a macro case that he is overrated and only has prominence because he made one bonkers play in primetime, and because of his antics on and off the field. And that he hasn’t done much quality football work since that stint in the limelight.
There is a certain truth to this argument. In his first year with Cleveland in 2019, he had over 1,000 yards receiving but didn’t lead his team in the major receiving stats. In 2020, he missed most of the season due to injury, but he wasn’t lighting up the stat sheet. He averaged 3.8 receptions for 53 yards a game in the six games he played. The fact of the matter is that this argument doesn’t take into consideration some important factors in football. Scheme, coaching, and quarterback.
Without delving too deep, Kevin Stefanski is a fine coach and Baker Mayfield is competent, but Cleveland is a run-first team. The Browns are 28th in pass attempts this season. And as the team has developed into an offense powered by Nick Chubb, Beckham’s role on the team has declined. From 8.3 targets per game to 6.1 in 2020 and 5.6 in 2021. In his time in New York, he never averaged fewer than 10 targets per game.
Of course, a potential downside to signing Beckham is his overly dramatic and toxic exits from his previous two teams. There are two things that will absolutely keep every receiver happy: targets and winning. He was getting targets in New York, but not winning. In Cleveland, it is just the opposite.
The Rams can guarantee Beckham will be on a winning team. But targets? That is another question. DeSean Jackson recently left the team because of this very thing. The Rams have two very established receivers in Robert Woods and Cooper Kupp. Kupp, especially, has been a favorite target for Stafford. It is almost a guarantee that Beckham will average less than 10 targets a game. Kupp is the only Rams receiver to do that this season.
Could Beckham supplant Van Jefferson as the third option and primary down the field option? Absolutely. Could his talent siphon a few targets away from Kupp and Woods? Certainly. Are 7-8 targets per game enough to keep the NFL’s current disgruntled wide receiver happy? That is the bet that Snead is making.
Of course, the Rams were willing to undramatically cut ties with Jackson. So Beckham’s flair for the dramatic might not be the correct tack if he isn’t getting the attention he wants.
The Upside of Betting on Beckham
The whole reason a bet is made is that there is a potential for a good return. What the Rams get in Beckham is a true outside receiver with experience. The last time McVay had that was in Brandin Cooks. In 2018, Cooks played 918 snaps on the outside and led the team in average depth of target. That is probably how McVay is seeing Beckham’s role on the team. Beckham and Cooks are similar in their ability to make plays beyond the sticks and deeper. They both have good straight-line speed, but they also change directions incredibly quickly.
And that is the biggest difference between Beckham and Van Jefferson, who has been in that Cooks role. Beckham’s speed allows him to get more separation. Which creates easier throws and puts defensive backs on their heels. This will also allow McVay to use Woods and Kupp to exploit the room that Beckham will create. Their versatility can be used to the fullest when they have more room for them to roam. That was the plan for Jackson and for Jefferson. But, we never saw it flourish. Stafford has leaned on Kupp heavily. Kupp has played 92 percent of offensive snaps. His previous high was 83 percent.
And that is the floor of what this offense could look like with Beckham’s addition. Beckham will be joining for the first time in his career a team with an elite coach, an elite scheme, and an elite quarterback. Not just an elite quarterback, but specifically one that is meant to throw the ball to deep receivers. He is one of three qualifying quarterbacks (20% of 46 attempts) to complete 50 percent or more of passes longer than 20 air yards. SoFi Stadium has absolutely erupted on Stafford’s big passes this year. Big throws to Beckham may test the structure’s anti-earthquake technology.
Betting on Beckham also gives the Rams some injury insurance. Cooper Kupp has missed 10 regular-season games and four playoff games due to injury over the previous four seasons. If that were to happen, along with the previous losses to the corps, this group is left looking very inexperienced. The Rams had to make a move to add some experience and depth.
When adding all these things together, adding Beckham seems like a good bet and one the Rams couldn’t afford to pass up. What do you think? Vote below!