It goes without saying that Les Snead is one of the best general managers in the NFL. The Super Bowl champ is known for his big trades that brought Matthew Stafford, Jalen Ramsey, and Von Miller to L.A. but the foundation for his championship squad was built through the draft. Yes, we know about the importance of adding talent in different ways but the selections of Aaron Donald and Cooper Kupp were critical in their success. It was a team supplemented by Day 2 and 3 picks like Rob Havenstein, Van Jefferson, Jordan Fuller, and Greg Gaines, amongst others who helped the Rams get over the line. However, since then, the Rams’ offense has performed below standard for the past two years. Let’s take a look at why.
The first problem starts with the offensive line. Obviously, we know that since Andrew Whitworth retired, Snead’s solutions to the left tackle position have not lived up to expectations. The problem was that outside of Rob Haverstein, Whitworth’s replacement, Joe Noteboom, was arguably the best lineman on the team. The interior of the offensive line has remained a mess and it seems that in the past four years, Snead has failed to address it. Yes, he drafted Steve Avila, who looks like a home run pick, but one can not ignore the multiple misses that might’ve caused Stafford to go from Super Bowl champ to chronically injured. Players like Creed Humphrey, Daniel Faalele, and Jamaree Salyer were available but didn’t fancy Snead’s taste. More importantly, Snead’s refusal to bring in veteran players to supplement the struggling line is both uncharacteristic and unacceptable.
Quite frankly, he doesn’t value interior linemen. He’s given big deals to Whitworth and Havenstein but Snead believes that he’s able to replace linemen on the cheap, allowing him the resources to spend money elsewhere. Since the Rams moved back to Los Angeles, Snead let stud linemen such as Rodger Saffold Austin Corbett go after the Rams’ Super Bowl runs and has yet to see the individual production of their replacements match what those two did.
However, the offensive line isn’t the only issue. When we think of legendary wide receiver groups, we notice a pattern. Each receiver brings a different element to the room that causes mismatch nightmares for defenses. The 1999 Rams are a prime example. They had the route-running specialist in Isaac Bruce, the target man that can outshake and out-muscle DBs in Torrey Holt, the slot threat in Ricky Proehl and the speedster in Az-Zahir Hakim.
Snead hasn’t done a good job supplementing Kupp with talent that attacks in different ways. Puka Nacua is similar to Kupp, and Van Jefferson is gone and Ben Skowronek continues to be ineffective. Tutu Atwell is a different type of receiver with his speed.
The Rams could’ve drafted DK Metcalf or Dionte Johnson but picked Taylor Rapp instead. They could’ve had Terry McLaurin but went with Darrell Henderson Jr. The irritating part is that when the Rams won the Super Bowl, Kupp was complemented by Robert Woods and Odell Beckham Jr, two receivers that bring something different for the QB to use.
The last part has been the Rams’ approach to the running back position since the departure of Todd Gurley. Listen, I get it. You spent a lot of money on him. You didn’t feel like you got a good return on your investment. I understand. However, since the Rams realized Cam Akers’ Achilles injury in 2021 would mean that they would have to search for another running back, they’ve gone with boring, conservative selections that seem to align with their plan to attack the salary cap instead of building a fearsome rushing attack. Players like Henderson, Jake Funk and Zach Evans haven’t impressed, and Kyren Williams feels like what an average running back looks like. No pop, no pizzaz. Just inside runs.
Long story short, in the post-Super Bowl era, Snead has not done enough to address the offense. Yes, he made some excellent decisions to draft some young, promising defenders but his lack of firepower on offense has directly contributed to the Rams’ lack of success. The 2024 offseason scouting plans and ideas for acquisitions must have an offensive focus or you could kiss another year goodbye.