Los Angeles Rams: Special Teams and Other Notes
Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

The Los Angeles Rams’ special teams were a major disappointment last season, despite the accuracy and reliability of kicker Matt Gay, who missed only two of his field goal attempts. Punter Riley Dixon’s performance was below average, and Brandon Powell provided very little in the return game. As a result, the Rams finished in 29th place in Rick Gosselin’s annual NFL Special Teams Rankings.

Coach Sean McVay was not pleased with the team’s performance on special teams, leading to the dismissal of coordinator Joe DeCamillis and sweeping changes across the unit.

Gay, long-snapper Matthew Orzech and Dixon have all moved on to other teams, leaving the Rams without their three primary specialists. Powell is also a pending free agent with no movement yet.

New special teams coordinator Chase Blackburn will work with a different group than the Rams fielded last season. It remains unclear who will be kicking, punting, or returning kicks for the team, but Blackburn and McVay have clarified that they were not satisfied with the existing group of specialists.

Gay’s departure to the Indianapolis Colts for a record-breaking $5.5 million per year deal may have been difficult for the Rams to match. However, free agency options, including Robbie Gould, Mason Crosby, and Randy Bullock, whom Blackburn coached with the Titans last season, are still available. Andy Lee and Brett Kern are also available at punter.

Despite this, the Rams have not moved to sign new specialists in free agency. The draft and summer camp cuts may be the team’s best options for finding a reliable kicker and improved punter.

In the return game, the Rams currently lack an experienced specialist on their roster. It would not be wise to put Cooper Kupp back there to return punts, and Tutu Atwell struggled in that role as a rookie. The team must prioritize finding an experienced return specialist to avoid another disappointing performance on special teams this season.

Losing Matt Gay

Gay signing an agreement with the Indianapolis Colts could be the hardest to retain. He’ll earn $5.5 million annually, making it the biggest free-agent deal ever for a kicker. It’s not exactly unexpected that he left the 2023 NFL Free Agency market.

What’s surprising is how quickly it occurred. This could suggest that the LA Rams just stood by, allowed their Pro Bowl placekicker to be wooed into a deal with their rival, and didn’t exert much effort to make a competitive counter-offer.

Although it could’ve been tough to keep up with for the Rams, they could still tap into free agents Blackburn coached with the Titans last season. These include free agents Mason Crosby, Randy Bullock, and Robbie Gould, as well as Brett Kern and Andy Lee, who are both available as punters. The thing is, Los Angeles didn’t link to anyone in free agency until now.

Los Angeles’ best options could be this summer’s camp cuts and the draft. If they don’t sign a kicker soon, expect one for them to find one in the draft, as their NFL Draft Odds are strong.

Rams Scheduled Opponents

After a roller coaster ride for the Los Angeles Rams during the 2022 NFL season, they find themselves in a challenging position, having gone from Super Bowl LVI champions to one of the league’s bottom-dwellers this past year. Rams fans are certainly holding their breath for a more successful 2023 season.

While the NFL’s official schedule release is still a ways off, we already have a complete list of the Rams’ opponents for the upcoming season and the home and away game designations. Here’s a comprehensive breakdown of the competition the Rams will face in the 2023-24 NFL season.

The NFL employs a fixed, rotating formula to establish future schedules, which means the Rams’ 2023 opponents were determined as soon as the regular season concluded.

As per the usual divisional structure, the Rams will face each of their NFC West rivals twice. Additionally, the NFC West teams will play against each NFC East and AFC North member once, with a mix of home and away games.

Being the NFC West’s third-place seed, the Rams are also set to face the No. 3 seeds from the remaining three conferences they’ll be matched up against – the NFC North, AFC South, and NFC South.

While the specific order of the games is yet to be determined, we already know which games will take place at SoFi Stadium and which will be on the road.

Home Games (8)

  • New Orleans Saints
  • Arizona Cardinals
  • Cleveland Browns
  • San Francisco 49ers
  • Philadelphia Eagles
  • Seattle Seahawks
  • Pittsburgh Steelers
  • Washington Commanders

Road Games (9)

  • Seattle Seahawks
  • Arizona Cardinals
  • Baltimore Ravens
  • Green Bay Packers
  • Cincinnati Bengals
  • Indianapolis Colts
  • Dallas Cowboys
  • New York Giants
  • San Francisco 49ers

Final Thoughts

The full 2023 NFL season schedule will still be announced in mid-May. What’s only finalized is the first preseason game, the Hall of Fame Game, between the Cleveland Browns and New York Jets on Friday, August 4.