Opponent Review 2022: Los Angeles Rams
As the training camp approaches for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, and with it the unofficial start of the season, we take a closer look at the opponents on the team’s 2022 program. Next up is the defending Super Bowl champion Los Angeles Rams, which the Bucs are hosting in week nine on November 6 at Raymond James Stadium. The match between the tent is scheduled for a kickoff at 16:25 ET on CBS. Let the rematch of the meeting in the division round 2021 begin.
In the quest to win the Super Bowl LVI, the Los Angeles Rams had to go through several challenging opponents to achieve the coveted goal, including the defending champions and No. 2 seed Tampa Bay Buccaneers in a division round. Tom Brady led the Bucs on a wild comeback in the second half, leading the team to 21 unanswered points to level the game at 27 with 40 seconds left on the clock. However, a Matthew Stafford and Cooper Kupp connection from a Bucs’ all-out blitz set up the club’s battle-winning field goal.
In the Ram’s storybook season, the club took control of NFC West and ended the regular season with a record of 12-5, which gave momentum on the way into the post-season. The journey began with the trade of Jared Goff, a player who had taken Sean McVay to his first Super Bowl, for a player who had not won a playoff game with the Detroit Lions: Matthew Stafford. McVay pushed for his own guy and bet on Stafford. It was a risk that paid off – and a little more. In Stafford’s first year under center, the Rams rose to the biggest stage. Stafford completed 67.2 percent of his passes on 4,886 yards and a career-high (draw) 41 touchdowns to 17 interceptions. He led the team to four playoff victories, including the Super Bowl, after arriving in LA with a record of 0-3 in the playoffs.
On the offensive, Cooper Kupp rose to stardom in 2021, achieving one of the best seasons on grass for a receiver. Coup received the award Offensive Player of the Year, was named Super Bowl MVP, and posted the receiving triple crown. He recorded 16 touchdowns combined with an astonishing 1,947 receiving yards, making the Rams ready for the elusive championship. With rare speed, change of direction, yards-after-catching ability and deception on routes, Kupp commanded doubles and even triple teams – a testament to his sensational play. With efficiency on options out of the backfield, pivot routes, drag routes, fly sweeps or slopes across the middle of the field, he triggered the Rams’ offensive attacks.
Elite receiver Robert Woods played nine appearances before receiving a season-ending ACL in 2021, but Kupp went up and became the catalyst. In addition, Odell Beckham Jr. did. his presence felt with five touchdowns and 305 receiving yards after a mid-season acquisition. He asked to be released by the Browns and landed with the Rams on a one-year deal. Beckham became a differentiator in the pursuit of the title and was the first to put points on the board for LA in the Super Bowl.
Running back Cam Akers was put on the sidelines due to injury in 2021, and both Darrell Henderson and Sony Michel made significant contributions on the ground to strengthen the offense. The duo got a big workload in Akers’ absence and collected 13 touchdowns in total. With explosive achievements in December, Michel raised the stock with a career boom.
On the defensive side of the ball, the Rams finished the regular season 2021 in sixth place against the run, fifth in kick percentage and seventh in cut-off frequency. Former defensive coach Brandon Staley, at this time Chargers’ head coach, was replaced by Raheem Morris, who inherited the top-ranked defensive unit in 2020. He effectively called up favorable one-on-one pass-rush situations to compromise blockers. Due to the threatening front led by Aaron Donald, Von Miller and other edge-rushing phenomenon Leonard Floyd, opposing teams had to drop the ball faster to try to curb the Rams’ passing rush, which limited their ability to close on the quarterback. In addition, rookie Ernest Jones contributed to their efforts by recording 61 tackles and two interceptions in seven match starts.
Perennial All-Pro Jalen Ramsey led the secondary, with the task of containing the opposition’s best receiver. In front, the addition of Miller made it more challenging for defense to double Donald or to neutralize Miller and Floyd, and prevented them from disturbing the backfield if more men were assigned to Donald. In 2021, Donald Rams led with 12.5 sacks and 25 quarterback hits. In eight games with the Rams, Miller collected five sacks, eight quarterback hits and 12 tackles for losses. Donald’s name is pronounced with reverence by peers. With unmatched speed outside the box, No. 99 has the ability to interrupt the ball, but his header is blocked by the keeper. The fact that the teams account for and prioritize battle plans around him, and that he still plays on a consistent basis – including a production with two sacks in the Super Bowl – embodies his claim to the throne. He paid a lot of attention to the confetti celebration at SoFi Stadium.
The Rams’ win-now approach and itinerary begins with the signing of All-Pro linebacker Bobby Wagner and Pro Bowl receiver Allen Robinson II, and the return of cornerback Troy Hill. Most notable is that Donald is returning after a huge raise despite pension speculation. Entering into an agreement with the future Hall-of-Famer Wagner includes the team’s all-in-mentality. As a former member of the Legion of Boom, Wagner became the NFL’s third leading tackle in 2021 (170). New offensive rookie guard and Rams’ first pick in the 2022 NFL Draft, Logan Bruss, will have the chance to make an immediate impact on protecting Stafford. Additional assistance was provided to strengthen the secondary including Decobie Durant, Quentin Lake, Derion Kendrick and Russ Yeast.
The Rams tried to keep as much of the Super Bowl LVI-winning squad intact as possible, but several important departures included linebacker Von Miller, offensive tackle Andrew Whitworth (retired), guard Austin Corbett, nose tackle Sebastian Joseph-Day, cornerback Darious Williams and receiver Robert Woods (traded to the Titans).
After winning a Super Bowl, the coaching staff tends to change as prominent names are robbed by other teams for their achievements. For the Rams, they bring back a familiar face to the offensive coaching staff. The club hired Liam Coen as its new offensive coordinator, replacing Kevin O’Connell. Coen served as Kentucky’s offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach in 2021, leading the team to fifth in assault at the SEC power plant. Prior to joining Kentucky, Coen spent three years on the Rams’ coaching staff as assistant coach for wide receivers in 2018 and 2019, before serving as assistant quarterback coach in 2020. In 2019, under Coen’s leadership, both Kupp and Woods darkened the 1000-yard reception mark . In his first year with LA, the Rams’ attack ended up as No. 3 in scoring in the NFL. Coen will return in 2022 while the Rams strive for complete dominance.
Cam Aker’s form after injury?
Akers returned from a pre-season torn Achilles injury in week 18 to lead the team in touch. However, he did not hit top form and posted only 2.4 yards per carry during the off-season. Questions permeate regarding Aker’s potential in 2022. There is no set path or schedule for an injury comeback. At its best, Akers runs with balance and has the deadly speed to be a home run threat. He can boost the passing game with his instinct on screens and interludes. Once healthy, he could become another versatile weapon in Sean McVay’s arsenal.
How to replace Andrew Whitworth?
Joe Noteboom is expected to fill the void left by Andrew Whitworth on the left tackle, but 2021 Walter Payton Man of the Year will be challenging to replace both on-field and off-field management. He became an important cornerstone in the Rams’ offensive line, and last year’s title winner must create continuity in the trenches while looking for another championship banner.