The Chargers are all in with Justin Herbert while the Rams are rebuilding. So far, the on-field results have been the same.
When the dust settles on Week 11 of the NFL season, the two tenants of SoFi Stadium will share the same 4-6 record. The Los Angeles Rams eked out a victory over their NFC West rival Seattle Seahawks to keep their playoff hopes alive. Meanwhile, the Los Angeles Chargers suffered another disappointing, last-minute loss—this time against the Green Bay Packers.
The fact the Rams and Chargers find themselves with the same record at this point in the year is purely astonishing.
The Chargers are all-in on their contention window with Justin Herbert still on his rookie contract. They could have picked apart the roster to create a more viable long-term future, instead they doubled down to retain Khalil Mack, Joey Bosa, Mike Williams, Keenan Allen, Austin Ekeler, and others for at least one more year.
But the bill is coming due after the season for the Chargers. They’ll start the 2024 offseason nearly $45M over the salary cap with several aging veterans comprising their largest committed dollar amounts. Williams suffered another major injury a year after his contract extension. Allen is still performing at a high level but he’s had his fair share of injuries and is only getting older. Mack and Bosa haven’t lived up to their billing, and Bosa was carted off the field this weekend against the Packers. Then there are also its failed acquisitions like the major free agent signing of corner JC Jackson and the fact their first-round WR Quentin Johnston dropped what could have been the game-winning pass on Sunday.
quentin johnston make a single play challengepic.twitter.com/vU2QOHqpFa
— Underdog NFL (@Underdog__NFL) November 19, 2023
The Chargers are in a bad place now, and it’s difficult to see things getting better soon based on the difficult decisions they’ll need to make this offseason. Similarly to the Rams, they now live in a world where you have to find edges from a team building perspective now that they are paying their quarterback top dollar.
For the Rams, a losing record isn’t overly disappointing because the team told us heading into the season that this would be a set up year. While they showed signs of life early with a resounding Week 1 win over the Seattle Seahawks and then moved to a 3-3 record, they lost three games in a row to effectively end their hopes of making the playoffs this year. This team is just not consistent enough to put together a run—no matter how weak the NFC playoff race appears.
The Rams have already reconciled with the cap space albatross that hung around their necks the last few years. This offseason they parted ways with the likes of Jalen Ramsey, Leonard Floyd, Bobby Wagner, Nick Scott, Greg Gaines, A’Shawn Robinson, David Edwards, and others.
If you’re wondering about the Rams’ approach to 2023, read this.
Of note, Demoff says:
“… we have taken all of our salary cap pain in 2023 and project to have more than $60 million in space in 2024, the most salary cap space we have had since our move to Los Angeles.” https://t.co/MgYapy89kz
— Stu Jackson (@StuJRams) March 24, 2023
We knew the defense was going through a complete overhaul, and for the most part they’ve been better than realistic expectations for them entering the year. Defensive coordinator Raheem Morris deserves a lot of credit for getting rookies like Bryon Young and Kobie Turner to play at a high level. Cobie Durant, Quentin Lake, Derion Kendrick, Russ Yeast are all young players that are playing a high volume of snaps for Los Angeles.
But while the defense was getting their legs underneath them, Sean McVay’s offense was supposed to be good enough to carry this team—and the Rams routinely said over the offseason that they’d be better than most expected from them.
LA’s offense has scored less than 20 points four times already this season. They’ve technically scored at least 30 points once, though they didn’t kick the extra point in their overtime win over the Indianapolis Colts. I personally still count that as scoring 30 points.
The defense has allowed 30 points or more in only two games against the Dallas Cowboys and the San Francisco 49ers—two of the most prolific offenses in the NFL right now. Still, it seems when the defense is able to hold its own the offense can’t muster up much production. Losses to the Cincinnati Bengals (16-19) and Pittsburgh Steelers (17-24) loom large.
It’s fascinating that the Rams and Chargers entered the 2023 with expectations on opposite ends of the spectrum but they find themselves with the same record through 10 games.
Chargers will get a fresh start next year with new staff Bad news is salary cap.
Bosa- 36 million next year, may not play or minimal, torn achilles
JC Jackson- 19 million, on Patriots
Linsley- 14 million, may not play, heart
Mike W. 32 mil, ACL return
Mack- 38 mil but will be 33
— David Meredith (@DMeredith28) November 20, 2023
Which team has the best outlook in 2024 and beyond? The Chargers will likely move on from head coach Brandon Staley this offseason while the Rams find themselves with premium draft capital and more salary cap resources than they’ve had in some time. The Rams need to find their long-term solution at quarterback while the Chargers will have Justin Herbert for the foreseeable future.
While the Rams and Chargers have the same record at this point, their trajectories seem to be headed in much different directions moving forward.
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Title: Rams & Chargers shouldn’t have the same record, but they do
Author: JB Scott