Los Angeles Rams 2017 Season Recap
There seems to always be a team or two that emerges from the muck of obscurity to prominence in the span of one season. Our next entrant not only reversed their fortunes in lightning fast fashion, but are looking to make the most of it going forward.
Los Angeles Rams
2017 Record: 11-5
2016 Record: 4-12
Win Differential: +7
What Happened: The 2017 LA Rams crystallized the fact that good coaching can be the difference between being on top of one's division to being in the cellar. After Jeff Fisher was shown the door, the Rams head coaching gig did not look particularly appealing at first blush. An ownership focused on the profits of the future, a project at quarterback, an underwhelming offense, and a defense that had pass rushing stud Aaron Donald and safety LaMarcus Joyner... And not much else. That may explain why 31 year old Sean McVay got the job. McVay was considered a bright offensive mind in his short stint as the Washington Redskins offensive coordinator, but could he really turn this lot around? The answer is yes he can. Second year QB Jared Goff went from oncoming train wreck to future passing phenom in one year flat. RB Todd Gurley was reinvigorated, showing the game breaking abilities that were on display his rookie year and not the hesitant sophomore pro of the season prior. But this was not a one unit show. On defense, the Rams procured the services of coordinating guru Wade Phillips, and his presence was felt by opposing ballcarriers all year long. The defense, which was not a slouch unit, transformed into a league elite group. The Rams rode one of the biggest turnaround seasons of 2017 into an NFC West championship and a home playoff game, where they met a swift demise by the playoff experienced Atlanta Falcons. While the January loss may have stung, this was a watershed moment for the Rams. They now believe greater things are on the horizon. Their aggression this off-season is proof.
What To Expect: If all the Rams' moves pan out, we may be looking at one of the teams who will be in Super Bowl LIII. General manager Les Snead, not noted for making big splashes during his tenure, jumped in the deep end in acquiring talent for a big run at the Super Bowl. Acquisitions of defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh, cornerback Aquib Talib, wide receiver Brandin Cooks, along with franchise tagging Joyner, has the Curly Horns anointed the champions of the off-season. Plus, these deals are not salary cap killers, as a majority of them are good for 2018 only. If you wondered how Donald just signed his new mega deal, there you go. But your humble scribe must confess... An NFL team being crowned champion in the spring rarely, if ever, are able to hold the genuine hardware when the league concludes play in the middle of winter. Also, the cast of characters being ferried in do not carry the greatest individual reputations for being team guys. Supremely talented, no question. But football is about synergy, making the whole greater than the sum of its parts. While the Rams do carry an impressive collection of talent, can they be a team? For that particular doubt alone, that makes the Rams a prime candidate for regression. Now given the condition of the NFC West, 8-8 could take this division down, but in a stacked NFC, with the defending champion Philadelphia Eagles, two North contenders in Green Bay and Minnesota, and a South division that can easily run three deep into the playoffs... The Rams could easily get burnt by this big push. So the 2018 Los Angeles Rams campaign boils down to one question: will they walk away with all the chips, or will they just walk away?