It was just nine short months ago that the Los Angeles Rams beat the Cincinnati Bengals in Super Bowl LVI, becoming the 56th Super Bowl champions in NFL history. I say “nine short months” but in reality, it feels like that game was years ago.
Why? Because the Rams are 3-6 and have fielded one of the worst offenses in the league through 10 weeks. It’s hard to believe the Rams could be this bad after they were that good in down the stretch last season.
A lot can change in nine months, though.
The Rams suffered key losses in the offseason, from Von Miller and Kevin O’Connell to Darious Williams and Austin Corbett. And without much cap space or draft capital, they had a hard time filling out their roster with starting-caliber players.
In essence, it’s the price they paid to win a Super Bowl last season. They went all-in and accomplished their goal, being the last team standing on Feb. 13. They traded for Matthew Stafford. They traded for Von Miller. They traded for Sony Michel. They signed Odell Beckham Jr. And in the years prior, they acquired players such as Jalen Ramsey and Corbett, who helped them win the Super Bowl.
Now, they’re feeling the effects of those aggressive moves. It’s reminiscent of the scene in “Avengers: Infinity War” after The Snap.
Gamora: “Did you do it?”
Gamora: “What did it cost?”
Looking ahead, the Rams don’t have first- or fourth-round picks in 2023 because of the Stafford and Michel trades. They’re projected to have just $6.8 million in cap space next year, with five players who have cap hits north of $20 million each. That doesn’t include Allen Robinson’s $18 million charge or Joe Noteboom’s $15.5 million hit, either.
The new contracts they gave to Stafford, Cooper Kupp and Aaron Donald this year are costly, too – and also worth it. Combined, they’ll take up $73.8 million of the projected $225 million in cap space, so nearly a third of it.
Yet, even as difficult as the 2022 season has been for the Rams, it was all worth it. Every move they made, every contract they paid, every pick they traded. It was all worth it because they did something 31 other teams didn’t last season.
They won the Super Bowl.
Teams like the Colts, Jets, Giants and Texans try to build through the draft and hoard picks, constructing their roster with mostly younger players who they hope have bright futures. Yet, none of those teams have sniffed a Super Bowl in years. The Rams have played in two of the last four Super Bowls thanks to their aggressive roster-building plan.
Even if the Rams don’t win another championship for the next five years. Even if they have a couple of down seasons in 2022 and 2023. They still added a championship banner to the rafters at SoFi Stadium because they went for it, and it paid off.
Obviously, there’s an alternate reality where the Rams don’t win the Super Bowl last season. In that hypothetical scenario, the outlook of this team is vastly different. They’d likely be facing a ton of criticism for being too aggressive, appearing to miss their Super Bowl window now that they look like a bottom-10 team in the NFL.
But because they won a ring, they get the benefit of the doubt for building their roster the way they did. And they should.
This season is about more than just their all-in approach last year, too. The list of injuries they’ve suffered is unbelievably long, from four starting offensive linemen to Stafford and Kupp. Those are things they can’t control.
Sure, having higher draft picks and more cap space would’ve helped fill out the depth chart, but it wouldn’t have prevented injuries. That’s just sheer bad luck.
So Rams fans, when you look at the team’s 3-6 record and are overcome with frustration and disgust, remember what happened last season. Remember that nine months ago, they were crowned world champions.