The Los Angeles Rams were one of the big winners of the early NFL offseason by upgrading at quarterback in trading Jared Goff for the Detroit Lions’ Matthew Stafford in a deal of former No. 1 overall picks. That made the Rams NFC West favorites on the NFL odds, but the team recently got bad news about another key offensive player.
NFL Analysis Los Angeles Rams
The Goff-for-Stafford news broke before the 2020 NFL season was finished – a week before Super Bowl 55 – but wasn’t made official until mid-March. The Rams gave up a third-round pick in 2021, a first-round pick in 2022 and a first-round pick in 2023 in the first exchange of former No. 1 overall picks in the common draft era (since 1967).
Stafford has never won a playoff game in his career but also played on some bad teams in Detroit. He is No. 16 all time in NFL passing yards (45,109) and passing touchdowns (282), No. 18 in attempts (6,224) and No. 14 in completions (3,898). His career passer rating of 89.9 is No. 21 all time, and his 144 interceptions are tied for No. 66 all time with Joe Flacco and Steve Bartkowski. Stafford is No. 4 all time in passing yards per game (273.4) and second all time in attempts per game (37.7) and fourth in completions per game (23.6).
The Rams signed Goff to a four-year, $134 million extension that included $110 million in guarantees after their Super Bowl LIII appearance but Goff regressed big time since. Over the past two seasons, Goff turned the ball over 38 times, the second-most turnovers in the NFL over that span.
However, the Rams got terrible news recently in good-looking young running back Cam Akers tore his Achilles’ tendon and will miss this season. Akers was expected to be the focal point of the Rams’ running game this season after his breakout rookie campaign, when he averaged 113.1 yards from scrimmage over the final seven games, including the postseason. In 13 regular-season games total, Akers was the Rams’ leading rusher with 625 yards and two touchdowns on 145 carries. He also caught 11 passes for 123 yards and a touchdown.
Darrell Henderson Jr. likely will be the main guy now at tailback. Last season Henderson played in a running back committee with Akers and veteran Malcolm Brown, rushing for 624 yards and five touchdowns on 138 carries and catching 16 passes for 159 yards and a touchdown.
Defensively, the Rams have the best player in the NFL in tackle Aaron Donald, who won a record-tying third Defensive Player of the Year Award in 2020. Donald generated an NFL-high 76 quarterback pressures, including playoffs, per Next Gen Stats. He finished second in sacks with 13.5. He finished fourth in sack-rate (2.9%) among all players with at least 200 pass-rush snaps, including playoffs.
Donald joined Lawrence Taylor and J.J. Watt as the only players to win the award three times in their career. Taylor won it in 1981, 1982 and 1986, while Watt’s selections were in a four-year span like Donald (2012, 2014, 2015).
L.A. also has one of the league’s top defensive backs in Jalen Ramsey. He was a true shutdown cornerback last year, taking away everyone from DK Metcalf to DeAndre Hopkins to Allen Robinson. In doing so, he was a first-team All-Pro and Pro Bowler. ESPN’s Jeremy Fowler polled NFL executives, coaches, scouts and players to find out who’s viewed as the top corner in the league and Ramsey was the winner.
Arguably the biggest loss from the 2020 Rams, who finished 10-6 and won a wild-card game in Seattle before losing a divisional round game in Green Bay, was defensive coordinator Brandon Staley, now the head coach of the Chargers. Staley had been with the Rams only one season but led the Rams defense to be the best in the NFL, ranking first in total defense, first in scoring defense, first in pass defense and third in rush defense.Expert picks
- 10-6 and first in NFC West but won’t reach Super Bowl
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