Rams Gear Up for 2023 Season
|With another off-season in the books, it's time to look ahead to the 2023 season and all the highs and lows it might bring. Coming off a 12-4 season where they earned the number one seed in the NFC playoffs but ultimately got blown out by the Packers in the conference championship game the Rams surely have vengeance on their mind, but with an aging roster do they have the firepower to make another run?
The Rams have been talking about their window closing for a few seasons now, and that reality hit stronger than ever this off-season. Already a full season removed from the Sam Bradford era, the team saw another group of veteran players take either their first or an additional step back entering the season. Stephon Gilmore was a shell of what he used to be and was ultimately released via amnesty. Pro-bowl FS Eric Reid was put on the trade block for relative pennies and found no strong suitors. Xavier Rhodes has taken a step back, as has star WR Stephen Hill. WR Donald Lake, a player who still had two years before regression, was sent to the Vikings in a stunning trade.
The Rams are no doubt at a bit of a crossroads right now. Even the front office couldn't decide which direction this team was going to take as, despite WR Lake being traded, CB Gilmore being released, and GM Tyler Richardson reportedly making clear to the rest of the league that everyone and anyone could be had via trade, the roster is still largely in tact, aging vets and all. In fact, the team just added a pair of players in their thirties to bolster the roster. And although QB Jimmy Clausen is gone, another QB in the twilight of his career was signed to take his place in Christian Ponder.
So is this another year where the Rams look to contend for a second Superbowl championship or is this a rebuilding year? The answer to that question is most likely still up in the air. But one thing is clear - the Rams are keeping all of their options on the table. Xavier Rhodes and Eric Reid will still start for the Rams in the secondary, and Stephen Hill will still start at WR. The 35 year old Christian Ponder enters the season as the starter over his future predecessor Aaron Corrs who is likely not quite ready for primetime. Seven out of eleven starters on defense are at or over the age of 30. But none of this means the Rams are not "rebuilding" and preparing for the future.
The team traded Donald Lake at probably his highest value they possibly could have, as it would have only decreased with every game he played this upcoming season, and in return picked up a pair of first round picks. They used those picks to draft a WR and a CB who will likely become long-time starters for them down the road in Corey Davis and Quincy Wilson. Future starter at DE? Check. Future starter at DT? Check. Meanwhile, while the offensive side of the ball doesn't have quite the aging problems as the defensive side, the Rams are still preparing for a roster overturn there as well. The front office believes they have the long-term answer at QB, and there is still plenty of youth along the offensive line, as well as at HB and WR.
For now, the Rams are entering this season hoping to compete, but realizing it could be an uphill battle. At any point in time they reserve the right to switch to a youth movement and try to unload some of their aging players for whatever value they can recuperate for them. While Christian Ponder is starting the season at QB, don't be surprised if Corrs takes over the reigns at some point. WR Corey Davis could surpass Stephen Hill as a starter, while Quincy Wilson could receive extended playing time in the secondary. It really is going to be a wait and see proposition.
So which direction will this team take? I think it's safe to say that's all very much up in the air right now. If this team wants another shot at GZL post-season glory, they're going to have to go out on the field and prove they're capable. For now, anything's possible.
(by T_Richardson on 10/25/2017)
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