LA Rams News: Rams better predators than prey

(Photo by John McCoy/Getty Images)
(Photo by John McCoy/Getty Images) /

LA Rams News: The Rams are better predators than prey

The LA Rams‘ coaching staff was pillaged after appearing in the Super Bowl in just the third season of head coach Sean McVay’s tenure. The rule of “if you can’t beat them, join them” ran rampant as virtually all NFL coaching changes tried to entice a member of McVay’s staff – past or present – into accepting a role in the newly assembled coaching staff. The efforts to graft McShay’s offensive philosophy into other coaching rooms throughout the NFL weakened the strain somewhat in 2019.  That continued this year, as the Dallas Cowboys poached three coaches from the Rams and the Philadelphia Eagles helped themselves to Strength and conditioning coach Ted Rath.

But time has passed. The LA Rams, having fallen to just 9-7 in 2019, missed the playoffs. So now the Rams are no longer the NFL’s flavor of the month. The Rams are yesterday’s news, the forgotten NFC West team.  The team, once lauded, faces national contempt so widespread that it has become commonplace for national sportswriters to predict the Rams as the last-place finishers in the NFC West, doing no better than an anemic 6-10 record this year.  My oh my how things have changed.

False narrative lead to faulty conclusions

Now, the LA Rams are the forgotten ones.  The NFL has turned their eyes back to their perennial off-season favorites Dallas Cowboys and New England Patriots.  The NFL welcomes new darlings Kansas City Chiefs and San Francisco 49ers to the group. And the national media has rolled out the red carpet for teams who are expected to make a giant leap forward like the Arizona Cardinals and the Cleveland Browns.  A fun group, but what of the LA Rams, a team just one year removed from being the best of the NFC?

A national narrative happened. That pesky themed storyline that seems to arrange facts, rather than facts arranging the narrative. Stories claiming the Rams had one of the NFL’s worst offseasons, simply does not marry the facts that the Rams converted nine NFL draft picks into nine potential contributors for the team this season. Stories claiming the Rams passing offense will plunge in 2020, simply doesn’t align with the history that the Rams’ passing attack remained one of the best passing offenses in 2019

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From prey to predator

The LA Rams may be forgotten by the casual, but followers cannot ignore the intensity of the LA Rams organization has tripled in this off-season. The Rams did not let it ride in the off-season. Nor did the Rams count on a return to health to restore the Rams to the NFL Playoffs.  The Rams took a hard look in the mirror and didn’t like what they saw.  So the team changed what they didn’t like.

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Changes take time.  In my lifetime, change has evolved from seasons to moments. Research once required months, now takes a shrewdly constructed query into google. The Rams changes will likely fall somewhere between moments and years, but where is anyone’s guess.  But in the midst of these changes, the Rams are underdogs. In fact, the LA Rams will likely be the underdogs throughout the 2020 NFL season.

No more feat of strength, but rather a test of strategy

The greatest change will be rather subtle. The LA Rams will no longer line up in a 3 WR set and try to outplay defenses. Nor will the defense line up as the 3-4 and try to outmuscle offenses. Now, it’s a chess match.  Formations, coverages, personnel packages, all combining to outflank and outthink the opposition. The Rams games in the 2020 season will be played on the field. But the games will be won or lost in the strategy employed throughout each game.

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For the past three years, the LA Rams fielded better teams. But in 2019, lesser teams caught up to the Rams with better strategies. They faced a wounded Rams offensive line, and a Rams defense designed to protect leads, not stop determined offenses.  The Rams are about change in 2020. The offensive line is no longer wounded. The defense is designed to thwart offenses, not just slow them down. How will it all play out?   The lyrics to a Lynard Skynard song from the 1970s Gimme Back My Bullets sums it up pretty well:

“Life is so strange when its changin’, yes indeed
Well I’ve seen the hard times and the pressure’s been on me
But I keep on workin’ like the workin’ man do
And I’ve got my act together, gonna walk all over you”

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The LA Rams are the NFL’s version of the working man in 2020. A team that has seen the hard times and had the pressure turned on them. This team is not without flaws. But the team will now change the way they approach each game both offensively and defensively to compensate. Now the team has it’s act together. Let’s see how far they walk.