NFC West offseason outlook: The Los Angeles Rams
The offseason has had many twists and turns not for only the Arizona Cardinals but for the rest of the NFC West.
The storylines have been aplenty no matter where you look in the division, both good and bad.
In an effort to keep up with the additions, subtractions and everything else under the sun surrounding the NFC West, here’s a deep dive into each of the Cardinals’ divisional foes as the offseason presses on.
Let’s take a look at the 2021 Super Bowl champion Los Angeles Rams:
How much of an impact will Andrew Whitworth’s retirement have on the offense?
The reigning Super Bowl champions were hit with a tough blow in the form of starting left tackle Andre Whitworth’s retirement.
After being the offensive line’s anchor for five seasons, Whitworth opts for more time with his family following a 16-year NFL career.
Now, the Rams are hoping his projected replacement in Joe Noteboom, who re-signed with the team on a three-year deal worth $40 million, can step in without missing a beat.
That’s a mighty tall task for Noteboom, however, who has seen 17 starts in his four-year NFL career and has dealt with ACL, MCL and calf injuries. He also missed the Super Bowl with a partial pectoral tear this past season.
In his lone start at left tackle last season, Noteboom recorded a Pro Football Focus grade of 71.2. He did not allow a sack or pressure on the QB and saw 100% of the available snaps (67).
How much of a boost can free-agent signing and wide receiver Allen Robinson Jr. bring to the offense?
The sudden loss of wide receiver Robert Woods looked to be one of those that would really hurt the team moving forward, especially given the wideout’s 556-yard and four-touchdown effort before going down with a torn ACL.
The Rams’ passing attack not only was able to handle Woods’ midseason injury, it gained another solid pair of hands in Odell Beckham Jr., who signed on with Los Angeles in Week 10. Beckham would go on to reel in seven touchdowns and 593 yards on 48 catches across the regular season and playoffs. Unfortunately for Beckham, he suffered a torn ACL in the Super Bowl.
Now, the Rams enter training camp with neither on the roster with Woods shipped off to the Tennessee Titans via trade and Beckham a free agent who undergoing rehab on his knee.
Enter Allen Robinson Jr., who inked a three-year, $46.5 million deal this offseason.
After toiling away with lackluster pass throwers over the course of his eight-year career between the Jacksonville Jaguars (2014-17) and Chicago Bears (2018-21), the wide receiver is finally in a competent offense led by a known commodity in quarterback Matthew Stafford.
Outside of his lost season in 2017 due to a torn ACL, last year was Robinson’s worst as a pro with a sputtering Bears team. Over 12 games played, the wideout recorded 38 receptions (66 targets) for 410 yards and just one touchdown.
Despite the recent optics, Robinson has proven to be a legit passing-catching threat in the past, with three seasons of at least 1,100 yards. He’s posted at least six touchdowns in four years, including a career-high 14 in 2015.
He’ll now serve as the team’s No. 2 option behind 2021 Offensive Player of the Year Cooper Kupp. Van Jefferson also figures to continue his NFL progression after an 802-yard and six-touchdown effort last season.
It’ll be a new role for Robinson, who is no longer a team’s defacto No. 1 receiving threat. How he handles it will certainly be on the radar of many.
Biggest addition: Linebacker Bobby Wagner
The Rams got a massive boost in the middle this offseason with the free-agent signing of linebacker Bobby Wagner.
After spending the entirety of his 10-year career with the Seattle Seahawks, Wagner remains in the division.
And despite the notion that Wagner may have slowed down in 2021, Wagner was still as productive as they come, recording 170 tackles (third among NFL defenders), an interception, a forced fumble, five passes defensed and three QB hits over 16 games played. For his efforts, he was named to his eight-straight Pro Bowl.
He now figures to slide next to ILB Ernest Jones in the middle of the defense.
Biggest subtraction: Linebacker Von Miller
One linebacker enters, another heads elsewhere.
Los Angeles suffered a tough blow with the departure of Von Miller to the Buffalo Bills this offseason.
He may have only played half a regular season with the Rams, but his impact was surely felt as he racked up five sacks, 12 tackles for loss and eight QB hits. He followed up that performance with four sacks, six tackles for loss and six QB hits in the postseason.
Los Angeles now figures to roll out Justin Hollins opposite edger rusher Leonard Floyd.
In eight games played last season (two starts), Hollins recorded two sacks, a tackle for loss, one forced fumble and a QB hit. He missed a good chunk of the year due to a pectoral injury.
Other name that could battle with Hollins for playing time is Terrell Lewis.
The second-year pro recorded three sacks, four tackles for loss and two QB hits over eight games played (four starts) with Hollins sidelined.
NFC West prediction: First
Given the firepower the Rams have on both sides of the football, L.A. is the team to beat in the NFC West.
They may have lost a few key pieces, but have replaced them with an influx of free-agent talent for head coach Sean McVay to work with.
The offense is dangerous, the defense is advantageous and the amount of mistakes made is slim. That makes for a tough out regardless of who you are.