It’s that time of year again. Here are three burning questions for the Los Angeles Rams.
Make or break season for Goff?
After leading his team to Super Bowl 53, Los Angeles Rams signal-caller Jared Goff followed up his 4,600-plus-yard season in 2018 with another 4,600-yard season. However, the yards didn’t translate into wins. After going 13-3 a season prior, they went 9-7 in 2019 and watched a pair of their division rivals make the playoffs, with one ending up in the Super Bowl.
4,600 yards in back-to-back years is impressive, but Goff’s touchdown passes declined by 10 (from 32 in 2018 to 22 in 2019) and his interceptions increased (from 12 to 16) with pretty much the same groups of receivers as the season prior.
The former No. 1 overall pick in the 2016 NFL Draft signed a four year, $134 million extension prior to last season. That deal that included an NFL record $110 million guaranteed and will keep Goff in Los Angeles through 2024.
Many critics of Goff have questioned his leadership and ability to push his teammates during adversity. Meanwhile, others attribute the success of the offense more to receivers Cooper Kupp, Robert Woods, and Brandin Cooks, who is now in Houston, as well as former running back Todd Gurley.
If he and the offense struggles and the team fails to make the postseason, a few rumblings may begin among the Rams faithful.
Is the defense still among the top three in the NFL?
When the best defensive lineman in the NFL and one of the best cornerbacks in the NFL play on your team, you have to be pretty confident when they take the field. Aaron Donald and Jalen Ramsey have truly made their presences felt in big ways.
However, the supporting cast has changed. While defensive end Michael Brockers was all but signed by the Ravens before the deal fell through and he returned to the Rams, Dante Fowler, Cory Littleton, and Clay Matthews are gone.
Will their replacements perform like their predecessors? This question and its unknown answer may be the biggest factor for this defense to remain one of the league’s best.
Will they pick up another running back?
The team released three-time Pro Bowl running back Todd Gurley to free up cap space. Although his production diminished due to knee issues, the newest member of the Atlanta Falcons still contributed a combined 1,064 total scrimmage yards and 14 touchdowns in Los Angeles last season.
The rushing duties now fall on the back of Malcolm Brown, who in five seasons in a supporting role has a total of 934 yards and seven touchdowns. It seems likely that the Rams are hoping to add a running back at some point prior to the season after rosters begin to get cut down.
If they are unable to, this team will have a tough time running the football without a proven back.