Harrington Gardiner | Contributing Writer
Two years ago, the Los Angeles Rams were a franchise in disarray. They were suffering with a 4-12 record under head coach Jeff Fisher. Their first round draft pick Jared Goff had not played most of the season, and once he actually got playing time, he looked like a disappointment.
Another downside was the underwhelming performance of running back Todd Gurley, who finished 27th in rushing after finishing in the top five in 2015. Things weren’t looking good in L.A.
However, the Rams organization looked to turn things around when it decided to hire former Redskins offensive coordinator Sean McVay. The hiring made McVay the youngest head coach in NFL history, but that youth didn’t stop McVay from changing this organization for the better.
McVay brought in receiving threats for Goff such as Sammy Watkins, Robert Woods and Cooper Kupp. He also hired defensive coordinator Wade Phillips, who has had a great impact on defenses in the NFL, including the Denver Broncos defense that won the Super Bowl in the 2015 season.
Revitalizing the offensive line was another key to getting things on the right track. The Rams made it their mission to do so by bringing in one of the league’s best offensive tackles in Andrew Whitworth.
McVay wanted to focus on building around the two gems he had on offense — Jared Goff and Todd Gurley — and it paid off in the 2017 season. During McVay’s first year as head coach, he helped the Rams get to an 11-5 record and finished with an NFC West first place crown.
With such a turn around after the team had less than five wins a season before, McVay won NFL coach of the year and made the Rams a team that will be feared for years to come.
Despite the positivity that surrounded the Rams in 2017, they ended their season in sour defeat after losing a home wild card game to the Atlanta Falcons. After the defeat, they realized that there were holes that needed to be filled.
The first adjustment was adding to the coaching staff former UCLA offensive coordinator Jedd Fisch, who will now serve as Rams offensive coordinator. The Rams did have some key departures this offseason, which included inside linebacker Alec Ogletree and receiver Sammy Watkins, but they made up for it with the acquisitions they made. The Rams traded for former Chiefs cornerback Marcus Peters, who is one of the league’s best corners.
Another great cornerback added to this team was Aqib Talib, and don’t forget about corner Sam Shields as well. Just when Rams fans thought the team’s defense couldn’t get any better, they signed Ndamukong Suh, who is still one of the best defensive tackles. Suh will be playing next to Aaron Donald, who is considered the league’s top defensive tackle.
The combination of their front seven and secondary will make it extremely hard to get any offensive production going for opposing teams. With this vaunted Rams defense and an offense that finished in the top 10 and just added receiver Brandin Cooks from the Patriots, the Rams will be a force in 2018.
Of course, along the way, there will be challenges. With the moves that they made, their goal now is to dethrone the defending Super Bowl champion Philadelphia Eagles. The question is, can the Rams do it?
The talent on their roster most definitely says yes. The key for L.A. is just staying consistent and staying disciplined. This is a Super Bowl-or-bust season for L.A., and part of getting to the Super Bowl is to beat the team that won it all. Philly will be back and better than ever.
Not long ago, the Rams were a team facing obscurity. Now they’re on their pursuit for a Lombardi Trophy.