Who’s to blame for Rams offensive struggles in 2022?
The Los Angeles Rams offense has been struggling this season. That might even be putting it nicely. The Rams offense in some areas has struggled at a historic rate.
Last Sunday against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, the Rams offense was shutout for the sixth time in eight games in the fourth quarter. Their fourth quarter EPA this season of -0.355 ranks 764th out of 765 teams since 1999. Only the 2006 Oakland Raiders were worse.
In the first half, the Rams averaged 0.3 yards on first down. Once again, you would have to go back to 2006 in a game between the Patriots and Packers to find a worse offense.
Going all the way back to 2012, there have only been 18 games in the NFL where a team had nine or fewer first downs, nine or more punts and 210 or fewer yards. The Rams’ performance on Sunday is one of them.
The Rams currently have the worst three-and-out rate in the NFL through nine games. Their nine first downs last week were the second-fewest in a single game this year.
Like I said, the product on offense hasn’t been good.
The Rams have an offensive EPA per play of -0.113. The last time the Rams were worse was 2016 when they had an offensive EPA of -0.202.
With Sean McVay at head coach, the Rams are statistically running an offense very comparable to one that was run by Fisher. A McVay offense shouldn’t look like this. An offense with Matthew Stafford, Cooper Kupp, and Allen Robinson shouldn’t be this disjointed.
While some blame can be put on the offensive line, under Fisher, the Rams offensive line ranked higher than 22 in pass-blocking according to Pro Focus just once in 2013.
So much is wrong with the Rams offense through nine games in 2022. At times it looks disjointed and broken. The question then is, who is accountable for the current product on the field? Is this on the front office for poor planning or is this on the coaching staff?
The Rams have spent each of their last three second round picks on offensive skill positions.
Cam Akers currently ranks dead last with 2.8 yards per carry. He trails the next closest running back by half a yard. Akers also ranks 38th out of 48 qualifying running backs in rush yards over expected. Darrell Henderson was also a third-round pick and has been nothing more than a third-down, change-of-pace player throughout his career.
At running back, the Rams have delegated just $4.5M on the position in 2022. Out of the teams in the bottom-10 of cash spending at running back, only the Philadelphia Eagles and New York Jets have winning records.
In 2020, the Rams also selected Van Jefferson who had a respectable 2021 season. However, in two games this year, he has yet to record a single catch. Meanwhile, 2021 second round pick, TuTu Atwell, was once again inactive last week against the Buccaneers.
The Rams have currently spent the fifth-most in cash spending on the wide receiver position this season. This is a front office that has spent a significant amount of their limited resources at wide receiver. Somehow, Kupp remains the only wide receiver with any sort of legitimate production.
It shouldn’t be any surprise then that the Rams have one of the worst offensive lines in the NFL. Their $21.2M of cash spending on the offensive line is the third-fewest — ahead of only the Pittsburgh Steelers and Las Vegas Raiders.
McVay has been given offensive talent with the hope that he can scheme around a ‘just ok’ offensive line. Meanwhile, it should be the other way around.
The Kansas City Chiefs learned this the hard way. While being in the bottom-5 in offensive line cash spending in 2021, the Chiefs are now at 13 in 2022. They’ve used resources to draft players like Creed Humphrey, trade for Orlando Brown, and sign Joe Thuney in free agency to a five-year $80M contract.
Meanwhile, they traded away Tyreek Hill to open up their cash flow to spend on other positions, knowing that Andy Reid and Patrick Mahomes can make the skill players in the scheme around them better.
How much of this is on the coaching staff and how much is on the front office? Both likely share the blame. However, this isn’t an issue where the front office hasn’t spent resources on skill position players. The Rams should have talent at those spots.
The issue has been that these skill position players haven’t lived up to their potential and contributed as expected. That’s an issue with player development and the coaching staff.
One of the biggest mysteries on the Rams coaching staff and the offense in particular is who is responsible for what. This is McVay’s offense and the Rams head coach calls the plays. However, how much of a role does offensive coordinator Liam Coen have in the offense?
Looking back at what Kevin O’Connell did with the Rams last season, the current Minnesota Vikings head coach worked with McVay and other coaches to help put together game plans. According to the LA Times, O’Connell also oversaw meetings with coaches, Stafford, and other quarterbacks.