Rams need to avoid pressure of taking step back in 2018 after becoming contenders

(Photo by Frederick Breedon/Getty Images)
(Photo by Frederick Breedon/Getty Images) /

After earning their first trip to the postseason last year for the first time since the 2014 season, the pressure is on the Los Angeles Rams to remain serious contenders.

Coming off a frustrating 4-12 finish that resulted in the firing of Jeff Fisher before season’s end, the Los Angeles Rams were expected to go through at least a year or two of rebuilding after hiring Sean McVay as the youngest head coach in NFL history. Nothing against McVay, but the Rams were such a mess in 2016, it almost seemed unfair to set expectations high for the new head coach during his first year.

Instead, Los Angeles would go on to be one of the best stories from the 2017 season after making NFL history by becoming the first team to go from first to worst in scoring while winning the NFC West title over the Seattle Seahawks in the process. Even if it was frustrating to watch the Rams lose in the Wild Card Round of the playoffs the way they did against the Atlanta Falcons, the good news is McVay and company have every reason in the world to be thrilled over what’s in store for the future.

With that being said, now that Los Angeles has worked their way into becoming one of the teams to beat in the NFC, the question now becomes whether they can handle the pressure to make sure that doesn’t change heading into the 2018 season. Sadly, there have been numerous times over the years when a team finally made the major leap to becoming a serious playoff contender, only to take a step back the following year by spending the postseason watching from home.

Just look at what happened last year with the Oakland Raiders, who were considered the favorites to take down the New England Patriots in the AFC, and it’s easy to understand why there’s a little extra pressure on the Rams to make sure they don’t travel down a similar path. It was one thing for Los Angeles to work their way to being one of the teams to beat in the NFC when nobody expected them to since there wasn’t really any pressure, but all of that will change in 2018.

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Thanks to having two of the leagues top players in Todd Gurley and Aaron Donald along with a Pro Bowl quarterback in Jared Goff looking to elevate his game to a new level, at least the Rams will be in great shape to avoid taking a step back. If anything, let’s hope Los Angeles will use what happened in January as motivation to push for better results next season to live up to expectations.