The Los Angeles Rams recently unveiled their diamond-covered Super Bowl rings designed by renowned jeweler Jason of Beverly Hills with a total diamond weight of 20 carats for the most in championship ring history. In every ring, there are pieces of the Super Bowl game ball, green remnants of turf from the past two seasons, and a miniature version of SoFi stadium revealed when the removable top is unscrewed.
Now that the bling has arrived, so has the big question surrounding the NFC West franchise: Are they built to repeat as Super Bowl champs? Let’s dive into their top storylines heading into training camp.
5 storylines for Los Angeles Rams training camp
Rams general manager Les Snead wore a T-shirt after the Super Bowl victory that summarized how the organization operates: “F— them picks.” The Rams practice that strategy with great success. The last time they picked in the first round was in 2017 with Jared Goff, whom they traded last year to upgrade to Matthew Stafford. They don’t have another first-round draft pick scheduled until 2024 after trading Goff and their first-round picks in 2022 and 2023 to acquire Stafford.
The Rams’ top player, of course, is defensive tackle Aaron Donald, who got a huge extension this offseason. And Super Bowl MVP wide receiver Cooper Kupp was selected in the third round in 2017. Like every football team, it’s a mixture of free agents, trades, and picks. Snead does it his way, and who could argue with the results. The Rams are a winner and their roster looks strong again.
Repeating as champs is extremely tough. The New England Patriots (2003-2004) were the last franchise to repeat in consecutive years. Can the Rams buck the trend in 2022?
Making up for loss of Von Miller, other departures
The Rams have been good at restocking their roster, but Von Miller was a key piece of their Super Bowl title run. He joined the Buffalo Bills as a free agent.
They also lost nose tackle Sebastian Joseph-Day and cornerback Darious Williams in free agency, traded wide receiver Robert Woods, and had offensive tackle and team captain Andrew Whitworth retire. Plus, offensive coordinator Kevin O’Connell left to become the Minnesota Vikings’ head coach.
The Rams had 50 sacks last season, ranking fifth in the NFL, plus a dozen in the playoffs.
Donald led the team with 12 1/2 sacks last season. Miller had nine sacks in 13 games before signing a six-year, $120 million deal with the Bills. The Rams will lean heavily on Donald as usual and hope the presence of veteran linebacker Bobby Wagner provides leadership and productivity to bolster the front seven after Miller’s departure.
What’s going on with Sean McVay?
Sean McVay briefly flirted with a career change when Amazon approached him about a television gig. He’s slated to get a new contract that aligns him with Snead for years to come. It will be expensive, but there’s no salary cap for coaches. And owner Stan Kroenke has mega bucks.
The challenge for McVay is to replace good coaches like O’Connell and Wes Phillips, the Vikings’ new offensive coordinator, and create a championship atmosphere again.
Can Matthew Stafford recapture playoff form?
Stafford struggled with ball security during the regular season, throwing 17 interceptions. He took off in the postseason, though, with 1,188 yards, nine touchdowns, and just three picks. In the fourth quarter in the regular season, Stafford was just as clutch. He completed 70.3% of his throws for 1,127 yards, 12 TDs, and one INT for a league-high 120.7 passer rating. That’s why he got a new big deal this offseason.
What will the running game look like in 2022?
Cam Akers tore his Achilles last season but returned for the Super Bowl run. He was back for five games, but he wasn’t 100%. The Rams got through the season with Sony Michel filling in, but he wasn’t as good as Akers can be when he’s healthy. Additionally, Darrell Henderson Jr. is an effective change-of-pace back to Akers.
Will OBJ return
There is mutual interest between wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr. and the Rams in running it back, but OBJ has to get healthy first after tearing his ACL in the Super Bowl. A reunion shouldn’t be ruled out, even though the Rams have Kupp in place after he caught 145 passes for 1,947 yards and 16 touchdowns last season, leading the NFL in all three categories. The Rams also signed Allen Robinson to a big deal to complement Kupp.