After defeating the San Francisco 49ers 20-17 in the NFC Championship Game, the Los Angeles Rams are hosting Super Bowl LVI. This has truly been an incredible season with records being broken and history being made. However, this Super Bowl run isn’t something that the Rams just hoped and dreamed for. This is something that has been more than three years in the making.
In 2018, the Rams lost Super Bowl LIII to the New England Patriots, 13-3. The 2018 Rams were a very talented team. However, it seemed as if these Rams had reached their peak. After losing in the divisional round last season, the NFC Championship looked to be the ceiling of that version of the Rams. It was at this moment that Sean McVay and Les Snead knew there were some changes that needed to be made.
In October of 2019, the Rams sent two first round picks to Jacksonville for cornerback Jalen Ramsey. The following offseason, the Rams signed Leonard Floyd and boasted the NFL’s number one defense in 2020. Fast forward another year and the Rams added Matthew Stafford, Von Miller, and Odell Beckham Jr.
Noticing a trend? When Sean McVay and Les Snead see a weakness or an opportunity to maximize talent, they pull zero punches. These moves were all made in anticipation to get back to the big game. However, the next time they wanted to hoist the Lombardi Trophy.
The casual fan will say Los Angeles Rams are supposed to win the Super Bowl. They see a team loaded with superstars, all with one goal in mind. Fair? Sure. However, let’s take a deeper dive into the moves made by this front office. Let’s look at why they are so much more than just ring chasing.
The Rams have gotten established stars out of disgruntled situations in hopes of a culture change. Jalen Ramsey was labeled as a bad teammate in Jacksonville. Leonard Floyd was beginning to be labeled a bust in Chicago. Odell Beckham was dubbed as a locker room cancer. Matthew Stafford was called a stat padding quarterback in Detroit who couldn’t win big games. None of these guys have been on this stage before. Yet, all of them are hungrier than ever.
With a win on Sunday, Matthew Stafford could change the narrative on his entire career with the Los Angeles Rams. Stafford has put up some gaudy numbers over the course of his 12 years in the NFL. He is the fastest player to reach 50,000 passing yards. Currently he’s 12th all time in career passing yards and touchdowns.
With one Super Bowl win, Stafford can start to carve out his bust in Canton. With his career numbers, the conversation around Stafford could change from the likes of a Philip Rivers or Matt Ryan, to guys like Brett Favre, and Drew Brees. One win, and he sketches his part in history as one of the best quarterbacks to ever play the game.
Aaron Donald is already one of the most dominant defensive players of all-time. The three time Defensive Player of the Year is a perennial contender for the award. With seven First Team All-Pro selections in his first 8 years, all that is missing on his resume is a World Championship. Adding a Super Bowl ring, Donald will be talked about as one of the greatest defensive players to play the game.
When bursting onto the scene in 2017, the NFL couldn’t get enough of Sean McVay. His new and innovative style of offense took the league by storm. Everyone wanted to hire the next Sean McVay. However, after losing to the Patriots and Bill Belichick in 2018, many were already out on the young prodigy.
After being dubbed an offensive genius, many claimed that McVay’s style of coaching could not provide long term success in the NFL. He scratched and clawed, looking for answers to get back to the Super Bowl. With a current W-L record of 55-26, McVay can put the critics to bed with a win in Super Bowl LVI. He has yet to have a losing season. It’s possible that McVay could very well go down as the greatest Los Angeles Rams coach of all time.
General manager Les Snead has been with the Rams through the good and the bad. However, he’s found a way of team building that isn’t popular with everyone. His philosophy of trading first round draft choices for established players is admired by some. However, it’s also heavily criticized by others.
The naysayers say the Rams are mortgaging their future just for the moment. Two or three years down the line and they’ll be dealing with cap issues with no rookies to supplant the current stars. It seems like a ticking time bomb waiting to go off. What is not recognized is Snead’s ability to spot talent in the draft. Cooper Kupp is a third round draft pick by Snead. Van Jefferson is a second rounder. Cam Akers is a second rounder. Greg Gaines is a fourth rounder. Nick Scott is a seventh rounder.
Snead has an unusual eye for talent, and he finds the perfect complementary pieces to his superstars. It’s a copycat league. If the Los Angeles Rams walk away victorious on Sunday there will be more general managers who look to build their teams the way Les Snead and the Rams have.
Jalen Ramsey is likely going to be in Canton one day. Like Donald, a Super Bowl ring would only bolster his resume. Ramsey is a five time Pro Bowler and three time first team All-Pro. He’s only in his sixth year in the league.
Odell Beckham Jr has had a chance with the Rams to prove that he hasn’t lost a step. He’s not only the ideal teammate, but the player we always knew him to be. A ring for Beckham will either give him more time in LA, or present a lucrative contract offer for him elsewhere.
While it’s easy to say this was the expectation for the Los Angeles Rams, the road to Super Bowl LVI was one that came with its fair share of ups and downs. Failed contracts, embarrassing losses, and mounds of uncertainty have trailed this Rams. However, it’s been the relenting efforts to steadily improve, and the fear of being complacent that have the Rams in this moment.
After all of the headlines, questionable losses, and naysayers, the Rams sit one win away from immortality. One game, and the front office are geniuses and Sean McVay is heralded again. One game, and Matthew Stafford’s career is validated. With one more win, the Los Angeles Rams are World Champions.