The Los Angeles Rams Won “The Offseason Super Bowl”
If The Vince Lombardi Trophy was handed to the team who (seemingly) “performed the best” during the NFL offseason, then there’s little doubt that the Los Angeles Rams would have won said trophy under those circumstances, given all the headlines they’ve generated over the last few weeks.
Since the end of the offseason, the Rams acquired two Pro Bowl cornerbacks (Marcus Peters and Aqib Talib), signed one of the most feared defensive tackles in the NFL (Ndamukong Suh), and traded for a deep-threat wide receiver who has had at least 1,000 yards receiving and seven touchdowns in each of the past two seasons (Brandin Cooks).
And they’re adding all of this to a team that scored more points than any other team in the NFL this past season, and won the division crown in one of the toughest divisions in the NFL (the NFC West).
So now, the question for the Rams becomes: how do they handle the transition from being “the hunters” to “the hunted?”
Heading into 2017, the Rams were (previously) a four-win team with a rookie head coach and a very tentative answer at quarterback.
Nobody really took them that seriously, even after winning seven of their first nine games in 2017. But now, with all the moves they’ve made, they’re on everyone’s radar. Every single team they play in 2018 will want to give “the offseason champs” their best shots.
And for all the high-profile moves the Rams made this offseason, they still have a lot of question marks for a team with legitimate Super Bowl aspirations.
Even with this new star-studded defense, the Rams don’t have a single player on the team (outside of Aaron Donald) who registered more than six sacks last year, or could be considered a legitimate pass rushing threat. After trading away Alec Ogletree, the inside linebacker spot is very thin at the moment. And while everyone gasped (in fear) at the idea of Suh and Donald playing alongside of each other, neither one of them (nor defensive tackle Michael Brockers) are well-suited to play the nose tackle spot in Wade Phillips’ 3-4 defense.
Even the Rams’ high-scoring offense isn’t without its questions. There isn’t a single blue-chip player along the offensive line; left tackle Andrew Whitworth might have made the Pro Bowl last year, but he’s approaching the twilight of his career. Even after acquiring Cooks, the Rams don’t have a “true #1” wide receiver.
And most interestingly of all, we’re still not 100% sure the Goff is a “true franchise quarterback.” Goff admittedly looked like a totally different player last year, largely in part because of the schemes that innovative head coach Sean McVay put in place to help the rookie. But teams are going to devote the majority of their game plans next year towards stopping All-Pro running back Todd Gurley, and forcing Goff to beat them through the air. Goff did make the Pro Bowl last year, but whether he’s good enough to put this offense on his shoulders and get them where they hope to go remains to be seen.
The NFC West remains available for the Rams to take considering it will be at its weakest in five years. The question is whether the Rams can cash in the checks this fall, which they’ve written this past spring.