Chargers preseason football is almost upon us!
To help us get a little more acquainted with this new version of the Rams, we enlisted Evan Craig of our Rams sister site, Turf Show Times.
Let’s dive right in.
1.) How has the overall temperature of the fan base been in regards to this year’s team? What are expectations like after a disappointing 2022 campaign?
The fan base knows that it might be a LONG year for the Rams. There’s absolutely zero championship aspirations with this squad so the pressure is off. It’s been a tough offseason to stomach with all the departures but my hope is that the future of this team will be better in the long run. Expectations after such a disappointing campaign are remarkably low. As long as the first and second-year players show growth over the course of 2023, I think the fan base can handle more losing. They’re not going to like it yet if progress is shown from key players throughout the year, it’ll be a much easier pill to swallow. My personal expectations are for the Rams to be in the playoff picture past Thanksgiving. Perhaps an overly lofty goal with this roster but they benefit by playing in such a weak NFC. They can win anywhere from 7-9 games and if they fall into that range there will be a lot to build on in ‘24.
2.) Are there any new faces on the Rams that are worth highlighting ahead of this season? Are there first-year Rams that are expected to play a key role in 2023?
Veteran wide receiver Demarcus Robinson has been lighting it up ever since the Rams signed him in June. He’s not an exciting option at the position but he has plenty of NFL experience and he’ll be an asset in the passing game while all the youngsters get accumulated to the pros. Other than that, Les Snead and the front office weren’t very active this offseason, besides trading just about everyone away. So the options to choose from are quite sparse.
Puka Nacua has been hyped up as the second coming of Robert Woods ever since he was drafted. LA’s offense has struggled to find a pass catcher to complement Cooper Kupp and they hope Nacua will one day fill that role. Sean McVay has given the rook a heavy workload and the BYU product has handled it well. It’ll obviously take time for him to learn his role but I have no doubt he’ll excite the fan base when given opportunities.
3.) For those who haven’t followed the Rams closely over the offseason, how has this team changed the most from a season ago?
Oh gosh where do I even begin? Pretty much every main contributor from a year ago besides the core trio of Stafford, Kupp and Donald have either left in free agency or have been traded away. Most notably, Jalen Ramsey was traded to the Dolphins for peanuts. Allen Robinson was a free agent bust after one season and is now the Steelers’ problem. Bobby Wagner was essentially a one-year rental before he returned to Seattle. Leonard Floyd was cut and joined ex-Ram Von Miller in Buffalo. It’s been a tough offseason to watch but it was bound to happen eventually with the way LA’s front office had recklessly spent their resources. Hope they enjoyed that Super Bowl ring because I doubt they’ll return anytime soon.
4.) What are your personal expectations for the Rams in this first preseason game?
I want the Rams to escape this game without any significant injuries. They were hit the hardest by the football gods last year and that is one Hollywood sequel I can do without. I also want to see some of the rookies shine whenever they’re able to see the field. Stetson Bennett and Nacua are the first-year guys I want to see most. Both have been talked about a lot all camp and I want to see whether they can back up their hype. Preseason is hardly the best showcase of their abilities but it’s still (barely) football and I want to see how they handle their “first” professional environment.