The Los Angeles Rams take the field on Sunday with a lot of expectations.
They host the Chicago Bears in SoFi Stadium which is also the home of the Super Bowl.
Many believe the Rams have a real chance to contend this year now that they have quarterback Matthew Stafford under center.
Rams coach Sean McVay has a lot on the line this season.
The 35-year-old McVay took the Rams to the Super Bowl in only his second season as a head coach.
At that time, he had Jared Goff as his quarterback.
Following the blockbuster offseason trade between the Rams and Detroit Lions which caused Goff and Stafford to trade places, Stafford must succeed.
Otherwise, McVay’s reputation and job may be on the line.
Even worse than that, the future success of the Rams franchise could be affected if Stafford is not the answer the Rams are hoping for.
Here are the reasons why the Rams (and McVay) are in trouble if Stafford cannot deliver.
There Are No First-Round Draft Picks
The Rams burn through first-round draft picks like nobody’s business.
They trade them away quicker than they accumulate them which means there are no first-round draft picks for years to come in the franchise.
The best way to build a team through the draft is in the first round, but that option is off the table for the Rams until 2024 at the earliest.
Los Angeles Rams First-Round Draft Picks:
2016: Jared Goff
2017: No pick (Titans)
2018: No pick (Patriots)
2019: No pick (Falcons)
2020: No pick (Jaguars)
2021: No pick (Jaguars)
2022: No pick (Lions)
2023: No pick (Lions) pic.twitter.com/THjaTeDumL
— Gridiron (@Gridiron) February 19, 2021
They Lost Key Free Agents
Other components of that top rated defense have now left via free agency.
The Los Angeles Rams are in a tough situation over the next two seasons because of the way their salary cap is set up. The team's massive dead cap hit this year and overwhelming number of free agents in 2021 could harm the franchise's playoff hopes. https://t.co/NUJFwtpoTU
— Sam Teets (@Sam_Teets33) July 15, 2020
They Lost Cam Akers
Running back Cam Akers suffered a torn Achilles in training camp so he was lost for the season.
To fill his role, the Rams traded with the New England Patriots to get Sony Michel.
While Michel can succeed in Los Angeles, the injury to Akers is significant because he was definitely a Rams player on the rise in 2021.
What does all of this mean?
It means that the pressure is on McVay and Stafford to make the Rams a winning team.
Goff led the team to the Super Bowl but was deemed not a good fit so the team mortgaged a lot to get Stafford who is seven years older than Goff and has suffered significant injuries because he had very little to work with in Detroit.
McVay clearly believes that Stafford is an upgrade from Goff, and the Rams can win with him.
#Rams HC Sean McVay stated in final media call the desire for creating more explosive plays. Matt Stafford a huge upgrade over Jared Goff there. Downfield throws: On throws 15+ yards downfield, Goff 7TD/8 Int (ranks 30th); Stafford 17/5INT (6th).
— Ed Werder (@WerderEdESPN) January 31, 2021
He could be correct.
If he is wrong, it is unclear what will happen.
The team lacks draft picks, left free agents walk, and lost a promising young player to injury.
The Rams are in a tough and very competitive NFC West division with the Seattle Seahawks, San Francisco 49ers, and Arizona Cardinals so they have a difficult schedule and road ahead to make the playoffs in 2021.