Los Angeles Rams’ Field Position Struggle: The Uphill Battle of NFL 2023 Season

In the City of Angels, the Los Angeles Rams are grappling with more than their Hollywood storyline. The 2023 season has seen the team fighting an uphill battle not just in their offensive and defensive strategies but also within the crucial third aspect of the game—special teams. Under the fresh leadership of Chase Blackburn as the special teams coordinator, the Rams have encountered a myriad of challenges that are significantly impacting their field position—and, by extension, their overall game performance.

A game of football is often compared to a battle of inches, where field position can be as pivotal as a checkmate in chess. For the Rams, however, the battle for these inches has been less than favorable. The team’s inability to secure crucial field goals and to electrify the return game has led to them owning one of the most underwhelming special teams units in the league. This shortfall is a glaring part of why the team is often on the back foot in the tussle for field supremacy.

Field position is a multifaceted beast, influenced not just by special teams but also by offensive and defensive turnovers that can swing the pendulum of the game. Yet, it’s an inescapable fact that the Rams have been consistently outmaneuvered in this area. According to the statistics by Stathead, the Rams have managed to commence only a single drive across the midfield line—a stark contrast to the rest of the NFL where teams have had at least three such advantageous starts.

The implications of this are dire. Not only does it place the Rams’ offense in a stranglehold of long fields, but it also gifts their adversaries with short fields—a double-edged sword that has cut deep into their tactical fabric. Only the Cardinals, Panthers, Commanders, and Colts have suffered more in terms of allowing opponents to kick off their drives past the 50-yard line, a stat that the Rams have found themselves on the wrong side of 11 times this season.

To put the numbers into perspective, the average starting field position for the Rams has been pinned back to their 26.2-yard line. This situational starting point is a tough pill to swallow, especially when compared to the league-wide statistics that peg them fourth from the bottom.

The reasons for this aren’t one-dimensional. While the special teams unit takes a slice of the blame, the compounding factor of Matthew Stafford’s costly turnovers can’t be overlooked. Opponents have seized the opportunity to initiate drives deep into the Rams’ territory, with starting lines at the Rams’ 10-, 1-, 8-, 14-, and 9-yard lines. Although only two of these possessions resulted in touchdowns, the psychological and tactical impact is undeniable.

The special teams’ struggles have been symptomatic of a larger issue at play—a team finding its footing in a season that has demanded more than what has been delivered. As the Los Angeles Rams navigate through this turbulent phase, the team’s coordinators, along with the rest of the staff, face a challenge that goes beyond the field. It’s a challenge to recalibrate, to find the synergy that once made them formidable, and to turn those inches on the field into miles of triumphant strides.

For the Rams and their legion of fans, the hope is that the tide will turn, the kicks will sail true, and the returns will chart a course to victory. In a game where every yard counts, the path to reclaiming their former glory begins with mastering the art of special teams—a lesson the Rams are learning the hard way this season.

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