The LA Rams Are Charging And Changing The NFL In The Process
When Sean McVay took over as head coach of the Los Angeles Rams in 2016 the franchise was in complete disarray.
They’d just completed a 4-12 season which condemned them to a 12th-straight season without playoffs while hauling round the NFL’s definitively worst offence.
Within a season of his appointment McVay astonishingly had the Rams back in the post-season and did so with an attack that he’d helped morph into the NFL’s premier offensive unit.
A year later, they made it all the way to the Super Bowl, ultimately falling 10 points short of Belichick, Brady and the New England Patriots.
In five seasons McVay’s effect on the Rams has been as pronounced as any coaching appointment in NFL history.
He has his team back in the Super Bowl while his 67.4% win percentage as head coach is the league’s second-best number among any active NFL coach.
When the Rams went to the Super Bowl in McVay’s second season they had Jared Goff as their quarterback, their stand-out running back was Todd Gurley while their most productive receiver was Brandon Cooks.
Three years later and none of those players are even on the roster, nor is either of their offensive or defensive co-ordinators from that season.
Yet despite the turnover the Rams still house one of the league's most potent offences and which has been menacing in the playoffs, so far dialling up 84 points through their first two games while averaging 399.6 yards of offence per contest.
What McVay and the Rams has created and continue to build in LA is a study in process over personnel and which has the backing of the team’s general manager Les Snead who’s as aggressive with his roster construction as the man he hired to call his team’s plays.
Both are prepared to leave nothing to imagination in their pursuit of a Super Bowl while their methods continue to shake up the league.
The Rams are constantly tinkering with their roster while setting fire to NFL traditional thinking where front office manoeuvrings are concerned.
Both McVay and Snead have an exceptional grasp of who they are as a franchise and have conducted their business in an NBA-like ‘win now’ mode which has them prepared to punt future assets down the road in order to bring in ready-made talent.
In fact, McVay hasn't seen his franchise take a single first-round pick since arriving and won't anytime soon.
This aggressive approach was typified by their off-season trade for Matthew Stafford where they surrendered a first round pick while also parting with Goff.
Stafford has helped Cooper Kupp grow into the league’s premier wideout, this year winning the NFL’s ‘triple crown’ leading the league in total catches, yards and touchdowns while tossing a career-high 41 touchdowns himself.
The kind of franchise boldness which netted Stafford has been a constant theme throughout McVay’s tenure in LA. The team bought in both Odell Beckham Jr and Von Miller prior to the trade deadline this season with both playing a vital role in securing the NFC West title. Similar pluckiness underscored their mid-season trade for Jalen Ramsey in 2019, handing over two first-round picks to Jacksonville for the former #5 pick to patrol their secondary.
The Rams are comfortable making such moves knowing they have such an edge in the coaching ranks with McVay who's proven consistently able to design elite offence.
Their boldness has also been enabled by a certain Aaron Donald who since joining the NFL in 2014 has been the defensive equivalent of Patrick Mahomes.
Donald has now made 7-consecutive All-Pro seasons amassing 226 Qb hits and 98 sacks in that time. His 3 Defensive Player of the Year awards have made the Rams more eager to assemble elite talent around him, the same way a team would on offence around a transcendent QB.
McVay and the Rams work fast with their efforts yielding exceptional results, the likes of which have kept them firmly in the Super Bowl window since he arrived.
Their approach to how they construct their roster is beginning to transform thinking within a traditionally conservative league.
They’re now just a win away from what’d be a richly deserved trophy and one which based on their trajectory and method, could be the start of plenty more.
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