By Odin ‘Prime Time’ García
Cabo San Lucas, December 29, 2021.
A franchise that shifted from Los Angeles to St Louis to see its only Super Bowl win at the turn of the last century has run into a major dilemma. For years they have made many moves in their quest to win a championship for a city that has not had a Super Bowl champion since 1983, the year the Los Angeles Raiders beat the Washington Redskins in Super Bowl XVIII. For several years the Los Angeles Rams have generated a strong controversy for trading their first college draft picks in exchange for veteran players already proven like Jalen Ramsey among others.
The St Louis Rams of coach Dick Vermeil, also known as “The Greatest Show on Turf” with players like Kurt Warner, Marshall Faulk and Isaac Bruce could have been a great dynasty if it weren’t for the fact that another dynasty was beginning at that time, the New England Patriots of Bill Belichick and Tom Brady, who began their dominance by surprising the Rams 20-17 in Super Bowl XXXVI when they were “underdogs” by 14 points, being the same place where the “spygate” scandal originated which was later proven and penalized by the NFL. The St Louis Rams in the 1999, 2000 and 2001 seasons scored 1,569 points, the most by any team in any three-year span.
Collecting the highest number of stars generally, and we have seen it in many teams and in many sports, is not a guarantee of championships. You don’t have to leave that same city to see how the Lakers are suffering even though they have many superstars, the same has happened to other franchises in other sports that have formed the famous “Dream Teams”.
Generating chemistry and synergy in a team is more complicated than it sounds and gathering the most stars most of the time is not the solution. The Rams bet everything to go for Matthew Stafford, with which only winning the Super Bowl would justify that transaction, since with Jared Goff they reached Super Bowl 53 but could not beat the Patriots defense commanded by defensive coordinator Brian Flores and tightly the Brady-Belichick duo beat the Rams 13-3.
Was it really Goff’s fault? McVay’s responsibility for leaving the running game? Should we blame Belichick and his staff? As always, they have been recognized for preparing excellent defensive schemes to nullify the best offenses of this century as they did against the same Rams in 2001 in SB XXXVI when St. Louis was supposed to win by 2 touchdowns.
In the season that the Rams reached Super Bowl LIII, Goff threw for 4,688 yards and 32 touchdowns in 16 games, now with the Lions his numbers in 13 games are 3,007 yards and 17 touchdowns. On the other hand, Stafford in his last year with Detroit registered 4,084 yards and 26 touchdowns in 16 games. This year with the Rams his numbers are 4,339 yards and an impressive 36 touchdowns.
There are many stars on the Rams uniform this year; Von Miller, OBJ, Ramsey, Donald, Kupp, among others, and yet the Los Angeles squad has not been as dominant as expected. Even having all these superstars they lost 3 games in a row in November. Absorbing all this we ask ourselves, What is the best recipe for building a team? Do it through college football young talent? Use the ‘draft picks’ to exchange them for veteran players? Combine young talent with some veterans like the Bucs did when they brought in Tom Brady? Build a good defense first? Do it first with the offense?
It is very difficult to find the perfect recipe. It is the same secret that all teams look for year after year, meanwhile the Rams continue to search for how to make all the luxury pieces that they have on their roster work in tune. Will the Rams be able to play this Super Bowl at home at Sofi Stadium? Can they win it if they make it?
The time is up for Sean McVay’s team to play as their fans dream of but for now they have an undefeated record in December and they have already achieved their first goal, which is to make it to the playoffs. If the Rams beat the Ravens this week and if the Cowboys beat the Cardinals, the Californian team will be the NFC West champion. The Rams are currently 6th in passing yards per game with 276, surpassed only in the NFC by Tampa Bay and Dallas, while on defense they rank a worrying 16th place allowing an average of 339 yards per game.
Blaming aside, the Rams must be more than determined, they must be obsessed with reaching the Super Bowl and also winning it at home at the magnificent Sofi Stadium. If they show the guts like in any game in which the desire is greater than the statistics, those Rams stars must come out with courage to beat the Cowboys, the Packers and even the powerful Bucs in the playoffs.
See you in January here at Gráfico Sports to see how the season of the Los Angeles team ends!