The Los Angeles Rams erupted during the 2017/18 NFL season. Under rookie head coach/offensive play-caller Sean McVay and veteran defensive coordinator Wade Phillips, the Rams qualified for the playoffs for the first time in thirteen years, becoming the league’s best offence in-doing so.
With McVay calling the plays and hotshot sophomore QB Jared Goff to execute them, the Rams finally fitted into their new home and began performing like a team suitable to play in a city such as L.A. The ‘Greatest Show on Turf’ was seemingly born again on the sunny shores of Los Angeles.
The Rams have compounded on the momentum gained from the positive 2017/18 season becoming the off-season ‘darlings’ of the NFL. Acquiring star corner backs Aqib Talib and Marcus Peters, as well as the domineering defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh.
All three are certain to perform at a high level under the stewardship of defensive wizard Phillips in pursuit of the team’s second NFC West title in as many years. To add to these signings, the Rams recently traded away a first round pick for speedster Brandin Cooks.
Before obtaining Cooks, the Rams were very much telegraphing their current status as ‘win now’. Seemingly choosing to focus on winning the Super Bowl within the next one or two seasons rather than building for sustained future success.
The front office decision to ‘win now’ is always a risky one, as opposed to steadily building your franchise with smart, almost safe manoeuvres. The reason being is that filling your roster with star talent is expensive and can be counterintuitive.
For example, the San Francisco 49ers were surely contenders for the Lombardi trophy in 1999. However, one injury to Steve Young led to the collapse of a team which featured an aging Jerry Rice and ego- driven Terrell Owens. The collapse in 1999 kickstarted a decade of darkness for the franchise.
In the upcoming draft, the Rams’ first selection will come in the third round at pick 87. Also, trading for Cooks left a lot of questions about re-signings post this upcoming season. All-pro defensive lineman and one man wrecking crew Aaron Donald, solid right-tackle Robert Havenstein and recently obtained talents Ndamukong Suh and Brandin Cooks, all need new deals.
Questions about contracts can certainly unsettle any locker room and why should the Rams be any different? Cooks forced his way out of New Orleans in pursuit of being the number one guy, Donald sat out the beginning of last season over a contract dispute. Peters and Talib are no model professionals either, partaking in antics both on and off the field.
The Rams’ general manager does also not have a great track record. Les Snead’s head was on the chopping block after making numerous laughable decisions, including giving the king of mediocrity Jeff Fisher contract extension after contract extension.
There are also serious questions about the line-backer position. The Rams’ line-backer corps currently consists of Mark Barron, Cory Littleton, Samson Ebukam, Bryce Hager and Sammy Brown. Outside of Barron, I couldn’t tell you if those guys played line-backer in the NFL or took my order at McDonalds a week ago. And with the Rams having poor draft position, I can’t see that linebacking group improving any time soon. Trading away one of the leaders of the defence in line-backer Alec Ogletree just after signing him to an extension also raises questions of conflicting interests within the front office.
However, an argument can be made for franchises which can be accused of being too tepid and timid. The Cleveland Browns spring to mind. For two seasons, the analytical brainboxes of Sashi Brown and Paul DePodesta decimated a roster of any talent and subjected loyal fans to three seasons culminating in a record of 4-44 in order to ‘build for the future’.
Whatever the case may be, one thing is for sure ; the Los Angeles Rams are serious contenders to lift not only the NFC Championship Trophy, but the Lombardi too. However, Snead, McVay and Phillips would do well to remember the fable of Icarus who flew too close to the sun with wings made of wax- and fell to his death.