The Rams could be the NFL’s next powerhouse
One must go all the way back to 1983 to find the last time a team from Los Angeles won the Super Bowl. Back to 1979 for the last time that team was the Rams. That might change, quickly. In the span of just a few short months, the Rams have gone from the basement to Super Bowl contenders, maybe even favorites. Arguably the most important step on this whirlwind revitalization came on Jan 12, 2017 as the Rams hired Sean McVay, a little known, yet incredibly promising Offensive Coordinator to be their Head Coach. For reference, McVay was 30 years old at the time of his hiring, making him the youngest Head Coach in NFL history. McVay entered a situation where the team had spent years at the bottom of the standings, they made a controversial relocation to Los Angeles, and they had a former number one pick at Quarterback who was playing like anything but the number one draft choice. That’s not to say the roster was devoid of talent, they just needed the right commander to bring the best out of them.
Any discussion of the Rams roster has to start, and end with two of the best players on their respective sides of the ball on any team in the league, Todd Gurley and Aaron Donald. Gurley, the former Georgia standout and 10th overall pick, blossomed into one of the best ball carriers in the entire league under McVay, but that’s not to say his entire rise is due to the offensive guru. Gurley won Offensive Rookie of the year in 2015, as well as a Pro Bowl invitation in his first season, but this past season Gurley reached new heights, culminating in the Offensive Player of the Year award. The season prior to Gurley being drafted, the Rams took a defensive tackle who rocketed up draft boards from the University of Pittsburgh with the 13th pick. Enter: Aaron Donald. Donald won Defensive Rookie of the year his first season, while also receiving an invitation to the Pro Bowl. Sensationally, Donald only improved on his successes, resulting in three consecutive first team All-Pro selections, and Defensive Player of the Year this past season. Those stars only offer part of the many layers this Rams team has.
Jared Goff started just seven games his rookie season, showing only small glimpses as to why the Rams selected him first overall. During his time in Washington, McVay earned a reputation as a sort of Offensive savant, working wonders with Kirk Cousins, Washington’s Quarterback. By the end of his first season as Head Coach, McVay made his reputation seem conservative, taking an offense that finished last the previous season and turning it into the highest scoring unit in the NFL, the only time that has ever happened. McVay’s offense was led by none other than Goff, who turned in a sophomore effort to the tune of over 3,800 yards and 28 touchdowns to only seven interceptions, that put to rest any doubts about his ability or draft spot. He helped the Rams win their division, reach the wild card round, and helped his coach win Coach of the Year.
The Rams incredible season came to a screeching halt at the hands of the Atlanta Falcons in the wild card round, making the offseason start a few weeks earlier than hoped. So far, the Rams have made the absolute best of those few weeks, turning in one of the more remarkable offseason performances. Faced with the task of resigning of star Cornerback Trumaine Johnson, the Rams decided to avoid the problem and let Johnson walk. To fill the holes, the Rams authored stunning trades for stud Cornerbacks Marcus Peters and Aqib Talib from the Kansas City Chiefs and Denver Broncos, respectively. Peters only adds to the youth revolution in the City of Angels as he led the NFL in interceptions in his rookie season, and has two Pro-Bowl and an All-Pro selection by age 25. Finishing off the secondary, the Rams were able to retain starting Safety Lamarcus Joyner, who at only 27 years old, is one of the better Safeties in the NFL, and signed Cornerback Sam Shields. Shields had been one of the NFL’s premier playmakers while with the Green Bay Packers yet suffered from significant concussions leading to his release. The Rams saw tremendous value in Shields and were able to sign him to an inexpensive deal. Other players such as wrecking ball, and superstar Ndamukong Suh, who now gives the Rams a defensive line to rival the fabled Fearsome Foursome of Rams teams past. Lastly, at the time of print, rumored talks could put Giants megastar Odell Beckham Jr. in Los Angeles, solidifying the Rams as a super team for the ages.
Even with the acquisition of Beckham far from concrete, the Rams stand a chance to bring the Vince Lombardi trophy back to the hopeful city of angels.