Can the Rams and Packers rebound in 2023?

When the 2022 NFL schedule was released in May, the Week 15 game between the Green Bay Packers and the Los Angeles Rams looked like a marquee match, just like last season when the teams met.

Instead, it’s a two-team matchup with nine combined wins in 14 weeks. While the 4-9 Rams are eliminated from the playoffs with a loss, the 5-8 Packers have a little more hope of making it through the postseason. According to ESPN Analytics, the Packers have an 8% chance of going into the playoffs in Week 15. Your odds are said to increase to 10% for a win and drop to 0.6% for a loss.

Rams reporter Sarah Barshop and Packers reporter Rob Demovsky take a look at what this season means for the future and whether each team can become Super Bowl contenders again in 2023.

With Rams QB Matthew Stafford closed for the remainder of the season and Packers QB Aaron Rodgers playing injured, what can we see from backups Baker Mayfield and Jordan Love in recent weeks and into next season?

Aries: The Mayfield Experiment got off to an exciting start as he led the Rams to a comeback win over the Las Vegas Raiders in Week 14, days after being released from waivers following his release from the Carolina Panthers. With John Wolford still struggling with a neck injury, Mayfield will make his first start for the Rams on Monday night. After Mayfield had just two days to prepare for his first game action on Dec. 8 on the Rams’ offense, head coach Sean McVay said the coaching staff are only doing it “one day at a time” in the 11 days between the Rams become. Week 14 and 15 games.

This final stretch of the season gives Mayfield and the Rams a chance to assess each other and see if the pairing could be a good match as Stafford’s backup next season. McVay said Mayfield’s rating “isn’t strictly limited to what you might see on Sundays. It’s the weekly rhythm, it’s the daily rhythm of how you practice, how you meet and then how you put yourself in a position to play well in that window,” McVay said. The Rams should have a good one at the end of the season have idea. – bar shop

Packer: We won’t see Love until the Packers are eliminated from the playoffs. And even then, it’s not a guarantee.

GM Brian Gutekunst recently said of Love: “I think from our side we’ve seen what we need to see.” While Gutekunst said it would be “really good for him” to play, he won’t sacrifice the win — even if they play meaningless games postseason-wise.

When asked why the Packers would continue playing Rodgers after they were eliminated, Gutekunst said, “I think it’s a culture thing. I think winning is a culture thing. I don’t think we’re ever going to get out of there… without winning in mind. I just think that’s what this place has always been about and, at least as long as I’m here, it always will be.”

So it’s possible that Love’s second-half performance in Week 12 against the Philadelphia Eagles after Rodgers left with a rib injury could be the only significant snaps the third-year backup scores this season. It’s also possible that the Packers will change their mind if they are eliminated. – Demowski

Any coaching or front office jobs coming up? What will each team’s staff look like next season?

Aries: The Rams could shake up their coaching staff as McVay said it’s possible offensive coordinator Liam Coen could return to Kentucky to become the Wildcats’ offensive coordinator. Also, defensive coordinator Raheem Morris could get interviews for a head coach opening, like he did with the Minnesota Vikings last year and the Atlanta Falcons and Jacksonville Jaguars the year before.

The good news for the Rams when they lose one or both coordinators is they’re not used to it. McVay’s coaching staff has had quite a turnover in recent years, with coordinators and assistant head coaches being hired elsewhere. The Rams are head coaches and general managers as McVay and general manager Les Snead both signed pre-season contract extensions. – bar shop

Packer: If head coach Matt LaFleur doesn’t change defensive coordinators, he risks losing the dressing room.

That hasn’t happened yet (and it’s worth noting that LaFleur’s team has played hard all season), but there has been a clear disconnect between the level of talent on defense and production. There have been instances this season of players privately expressing frustration with defensive coordinator Joe Barry’s game plans and scheme design.

The Packers went into this season with seven first-round picks this side of the ball and several high-priced veteran free agents, but the same problems linger. They’re 30th in running defense (both yards allowed per game and per rush allowed) and while their passing numbers look good (fifth yards allowed per game), the cover collapses that doomed them in Week 1 have continued into Week 14 .

Barry was a risky hire two years ago given his past track record as a coordinator in Washington and Detroit, but LaFleur wanted someone to lead the Vic Fangio-Brandon Staley program after Mike Pettine’s departure. There’s no definite replacement for Barry, although second/pass play coordinator Jerry Gray might take a look because he’s so loved by his players. The same goes for former Wisconsin interim coach Jim Leonhard, who dropped his name two years ago before the Packers approached Barry. – Demowski

Who are the top free agents each team could lose, and how will the salary cap affect offseason decisions?

Aries: The Rams don’t have marquee players up for a new contract, in part because the front office has catered to those players with early contract extensions. But because of the way Los Angeles has structured its salary cap in such a top-heavy manner, it will once again have to make tough decisions about whether to bring back some key role players, particularly on defense.

The runners-up could be significantly different in 2023, with safeties Taylor Rapp and Nick Scott and cornerbacks Troy Hill and David Long Jr. free agents. The biggest decisions could be made regarding defensemen Greg Gaines and A’Shawn Robinson, who are each in the final season of their respective contracts.

Los Angeles will also have to make a decision on the backup quarterback. McVay said the Rams are unsure of Mayfield’s future in Los Angeles, but that the rest of the season is likely to be a judgment call from both sides. Wolford, who came into the season as a backup quarterback but is out with a neck injury, is also a free agent. – bar shop

Packer: Rodgers is not a free agent. In fact, he has a $58.3 million guaranteed bonus for next season. But his future is the first domino to fall for the Packers to begin building their offseason roster for cap and team leadership reasons.

The cap situation is complicated, but essentially it boils down to this: The Packers can’t cut Rodgers because they would still owe him the bonus and trading with him would be difficult unless a team were willing to sign the contract take over. Retirement is probably the only way out of the Rodgers deal.

Running back Aaron Jones is most closely associated with Rodgers. Jones is set to make $16 million next season, but with Rodgers gone and they’re in a semi-rebuild, it might make sense to walk away from Jones and take more than $10 million in cap savings.

Three experienced bankruptcy trustees – Allen Lazard, Randall Cobb, Sammy Watkins – are in the last year of their respective contracts. So is tight end Robert Tonyan and left guard Elgton Jenkins, who is the strongest contender for a contract extension before he hits free agency. Preliminary talks with Jenkins have almost certainly begun, but if they can’t reach an agreement in the next few months, the franchise tag is a good possibility. On the defensive is the extremely reliable safety Adrian Amos in the last year of his contract. – Demowski

How does the 2023 draft look in terms of filling key roster holes?

Aries: Barring a big trade signaling that Los Angeles is looking to rebuild, the Rams are not expected to have a first-round pick for the sixth straight year. The 2023 first-round pick is the final pick Los Angeles sent to Detroit as part of the Stafford takeover package. The Rams are currently reported to have six draft picks in 2023, though three of those are in the sixth round.

Los Angeles also traded its third- and fourth-round picks. But the second-round pick is expected to be high as the Rams’ 4-9 record puts them in a position to pick early. Snead has plenty of gaps to fill in this roster, but he won’t have many high picks to find Impact players for 2023. – bar shop

Packer: Even with all Gutekunst has invested in defense — including his two first-round picks in 2022 (linebacker Quay Walker and defensive tackle Devonte Wyatt) — he’ll have holes to fill on this side of the ball. The loss of outside linebacker Rashan Gary, perhaps their best defensive player, to an ACL tear in Week 9 revealed their lack of depth on the edge. They’ve been thin in the pass rusher, even with Gary, and now that position is becoming an even greater need.

Offensive tackle also seems to be in great need. David Bakhtiari has played well when he’s available but the 31-year-old’s recurring knee problems have made his availability a concern. Even if they re-sign Tonyan, they need another tight end. And despite the emergence of rookie receivers Christian Watson and Romeo Doubs, that position also needs to be replenished. – Demowski Can the Rams and Packers rebound in 2023?

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