Welcome to our fantasy football wish lists, where we’re going through each NFL team and listing three things we’d love to see them do this offseason for fantasy reasons (but also real football reasons).
Address the interior of the offensive line
The Rams 2018 offensive line was stellar. Football Outsiders has them as the No. 1 run blocking unit and No. 6 in pass blocking. Unfortunately, there are two positions that will likely need addressing. First, 30-year old left guard Rodger Saffold is a free agent, and number two, center John Sullivan is likely retiring. Saffold’s old contract netted him an average of $6.3 million per year, the 8th highest value in the league yet far from the upper echelon $10-13 million per year that makeup the 4 highest left guard contracts. It’s reasonable to assume that Saffold will command a deal that keeps him in the top 5-8 price range. On the surface, that’s a tough pill to swallow for a team bearing just $24.7 million in cap space. However, the retirement of John Sullivan would free up $5.25 million. It would be sad to see Sullivan go, but the veteran’s play is beginning its decline and that money could immediately be directed towards Saffold. A youthful replacement or free agent acquisition at center is in order.
Cut Michael Brockers and re-sign Ndamukong Suh
As Sosa Kremenjas of the Turf Show Times noted, the play of Michael Brockers has begun to slip. The longtime Ram has no guaranteed money left on his current deal and the team would immediately add $10.25 million to their 2019 budget, should they release the 28-year old defensive lineman. Ndamukong Suh turned in a wrecking-ball performance in the 2018 playoffs on the heels of his mighty fine regular season. Keeping him alongside Aaron Donald for years to come would be unspeakably devastating for NFC West offensive lines. Suh was on a $14 million salary for 2018—a reasonable price tag for the stud DT. He should command a similar deal, if slightly higher, in 2019 and the Rams would be wise to pay the piper.
Sean McVay needs to learn from his Super Bowl mistakes
My ever-referenced Warren Sharp posted a lengthy, detailed thread on twitter effectively explaining the Rams’ follies in the season finale and I encourage anyone reading this to pause and examine his findings.
That being said, we’ll take a second here to get a general understanding of what transpired. Commonly known at this point, the Patriots flipped the script by switching up their season-long defensive schemes, however, Sean McVay is firmly at fault for not making offensive adjustments at the halftime break. Regardless of scheme, the Patriots struggled to handle 12 personnel groupings (1 RB, 2 TE, 2 WR) both in the regular season and in the 1st half of SB LIII. McVay stubbornly stuck with 11 personnel (1 RB, 1 TE, 3 WR) for most of the 2nd half, even though he’d seen great success on the handful of 12 personnel plays he utilized in the 1st.
Similarly, he became all too predictable with his wide receiver and running back usage, funneling touches to his running back almost entirely on the ground rather than balancing things with looks through the air. Although CJ Anderson was a rushing revelation in the postseason, his inability to catch the football hampered the Rams’ offensive creativity and telegraphed pre-snap intentions. On the few occasions where the Rams threw to non-WRs in 11 personnel or rolled out 12 personnel and put the ball in whomever’s hands, the Patriots struggled to stop them.
It’s likely that McVay got gun-shy with it being his first time at the big dance. He stepped on his own feet and it cost LA a championship. He’s shown nothing but growth in all facets of his coaching tenure outside of this event and it’s reasonable to assume that when, not if, the Rams return to the Super Bowl in the coming years, the young coach will not make this mistake again.