The 2021 season is almost upon us. Through all the hoopla surrounding the Los Angeles Rams’ optics heading into the season, the dust has finally settled. Now, we have some answers to some of the more pressing concerns of fans during the offseason. As unpredictable as NFL seasons are, of course, no one can say with 100% certainty what will transpire during the course of the season. However, in recent days the organization has taken major steps to outline what this iteration of the Rams will look like in their opening September 12th matchup with the Bears.
Los Angeles Rams Questions Heading Into the 2021 Season
The roster is set. What notable names did or did not make the cut?
It goes without saying that a lot of tough decisions were made in the Rams’ front office when it came to roster cuts. Los Angeles Rams fans were even exposed to more “on the bubble” players this preseason than most other teams because of head coach Sean McVay’s policy about resting his main guys during exhibition play. One of the most surprising decisions was to keep three quarterbacks on the roster. Of course, quarterback Matthew Stafford and John Wolford made the cut, but newcomer Bryce Perkins was also added into the fold. With Stafford not in action, Perkins showed positive flashes during his limited stint. He passed for 451 yards on 56 completions with three touchdowns to one interception.
Fans were also anxious to see how the running back situation would play out. In a wise move, the Rams added Sony Michel to the roster after trading a fourth-round pick to the Patriots. In somewhat cryptic intonations, McVay has picked third-year back Darrell Henderson Jr. as his Week 1 starter. He is apparently sticking to his original plan even after Henderson suffered a slight thumb injury in practice. Rounding out the backfield is 2021 seventh-round pick Jake Funk. That leaves three backs on the roster to enter the regular season. Although at first glance the position seems like an area of uncertainty without a back of Akers’ caliber on the roster, Henderson and Michel carrying the majority of the workload should bode well for the new-look Rams in the long term.
What happened to Micah Kiser?
The linebacker corps has been an area of concern for Rams fans over the past couple of seasons. Los Angeles Rams fans may have been surprised to learn that Micah Kiser was recently waived and placed on the practice squad. Drafted in the fifth round of the 2018 NFL Draft, Kiser has been impressive at moments during his short tenure. He was even named NFC Defensive Player of the Week during Week 2 of the 2020 season, and before his injury later in the season, led the team in tackles at 81. But Kiser’s injuries from 2020 are still lingering, and since the defensive head coach Raheem Morris and the rest of the Rams’ brass want to keep his services close to the breast, moving him to the practice squad makes sense for all involved.
Kiser in the practice squad role could potentially mean big things for 2021 third-round pick linebacker Ernest Jones. In the preseason, he flashed signs of true poise and leadership ability, and the Rams’ coaching staff are on record saying that he could be a reliable signal-caller in the near future.
What about the secondary?
The Rams undoubtedly took a hit to their fearsome 2020 secondary this offseason with the losses of both John Johnson III and Troy Hill to the Cleveland Browns. But after fits and starts to his short NFL career, safety Taylor Rapp appears officially ready to take over the reins. Rapp will be the starting safety entering the season, looking to capitalize on all the potential he has shown thus far in somewhat limited spurts. Many fans are high on Rapp and for good reason. After being selected high in the second round in the 2019 NFL Draft, Rapp seemed to come into his own last season before a knee injury in Week 10 derailed his opportunities. Rapp has studied at the tutelage of Johnson since his inauguration in the league and is primed for a momentous season if he can stay healthy. He will start alongside Jordan Fuller and the tandem should surprise a lot of naysayers this season that think the Rams’ 2020 defensive prowess will take a massive dip.
While Jalen Ramsey remains arguably the best cornerback in the league, many fans are excited about the idea of Darious Williams suiting up on the opposite side of him. When Williams’ number was called upon last year, he stepped in admirably against the Cowboys and proved himself ever since to be a tactician, student of the game, and a stalwart at picking off opponent’s passes. David Long Jr. should also greatly contribute greatly to a talented pool of secondary players.
Overall thoughts on the 2021 Los Angeles Rams
Obviously, there is a lot of excitement surrounding this team. In the eyes of most, this is a roster primed for a “Super Bowl or bust” type of season. While we didn’t get a chance to see a lot of the main guys during the preseason, McVay and the rest of the staff personnel have taken major strides to see to it that this team makes a deep playoff run. It’s no secret that the Los Angeles Rams play in arguably the toughest division, but unless a flurry of injuries dampens their prospects, this is a team that should make major headway in the upcoming season.