There is a certain mystique and magic that goes on with the way the LA Rams start every season. The net outflow of talent that leaves the organization in the opening days of each new NFL season is both alarming and frustrating. The LA Rams draft will be a little, but not much, better. The national sports media will parade the top draft picks around as though they will arrive at the NFL to win MVPs and hoist the Lombardi Trophies. There is little chance of anyone flaunting the LA Rams draft.
And of course, the perennial “Dallas Cowboys and (fill in team name) are the Super Bowl favorites this year,” will be dangled out there, ripe with robust ESPN enthusiasm throughout training camp and the preseason. It’s the time of year for NFL marketing to promote all of the teams where ticket and merchandise sales spike. The hotter the fever pitch, the faster stuff flies off the shelves. But that off-season optimism for most teams will wither once the NFL season begins.
Occasionally, the Rams will conjure up a trade at some point in the season that will trigger those stockpiled narratives that alternate between the organization being “All In” or being foolish with their oh-so-precious draft picks. And yet, all of the dog and pony show offseason pageantry means next to nothing except to drum up the fever to buy NFL merchandise and tickets.
Gotta love how Les Snead works the Rams roster
Meanwhile, the fact is that LA Rams GM Les Snead shocked the NFL by pulling a Super Bowl-winning roster out of his hat. Now, how about some more shocking news? He can do it again this year. After all, he’s proven that his method works.
A year ago at this time, the LA Rams did not have WR Odell Beckham Jr, Von Miller, or Sony Michel. The team’s starting inside linebacker would be Kenny Young to start the season. The LA Rams were looking for answers while they were conducting the virtual equivalents of meet-and-greets with all of their new positional coaches.
But the key contributors during the season, and most certainly in the playoffs and Super Bowl itself, were not the players anyone would have expected. Yes, DL Aaron Donald and DB Jalen Ramsey showed up. And yes, WR Cooper Kupp and QB Matthew Stafford were big-time contributors too.
Constant cravings, there’ll always be… cravings
But who could foretell that the Rams would bring back Eric Weddle, could depend on Nick Scott, would get such huge efforts out of DL A’Shawn Robinson and Greg Gaines and that rookie inside linebacker Ernest Jones would be such a huge force on defense? The Rams would not even have OLB Von Miller on the roster until mid-season.
Oh, and what about that offense? The LA Rams would add RB Sony Michel near the end of training camp, who would go on to rush for over 800 yards. The team would sign FA wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr. in November. The team would find that they could rally the secondary to play over the top even without Ramsey. The same team would rally multiple times after losing TE2 Johnny Mundt to injury and TE1 Tyler Higbee to the NFL’s COVID-19 inactive list.
Why should anyone be surprised? The same two offensive linemen who struggled in their first season of starting on the LA Rams offensive line: OT Joseph Noteboom and OC Brian Allen, have just been extended to be the starters for this team for the foreseeable future. Both Noteboom and Allen, who so many called washed-up after their 2019 debut, were critical to ensuring the Rams won Super Bowl LVI.
Is there work to be done? Of course. But the LA Rams Super Bowl-winning roster was still a work-in-process at this point just one year ago.
Les Snead is his most dangerous
When the chips are down, Les Snead is his most dangerous. I’m not sure how he manages to pull it off, but when the LA Rams feel like hope has vanished, the light has gone, success has been drained out of the team, he finds a way to reload the roster with key and vital players.
It wasn’t just 2021. The Rams traded for DB Jalen Ramsey. The same team traded for Austin Corbett. If the LA Rams trade for a player, you can bet there is a solid reason for doing so – and that is especially true if the trade seems to make little to no sense.
But another aspect is how the Rams GM is tirelessly working to shore up the team at all levels of the roster. He keeps finding and signing players to the roster. It’s not that he is so shrewd that he never swings and misses. Rather, he embraces the likelihood of missing as being one transaction close to finding the right guy.
Shop til you drop? The LA Rams pan cause they can
The LA Rams found Pro Bowl K Matt Gay as a discarded free agent. The Rams found a rather impressive punt and kick returner Brandon Powell in the same method. The Rams are constantly working, analyzing, comparing, and evaluating. It’s not event-driven. It’s a constant process.
The team may seem to fall behind this time of year as the Rams pan for gold while other teams shop the jewelry cases for their precious metal players, but don’t lose hope. Those gems in gold settings are expensive, and may not last. The Rams gold, though raw, can be reshaped into whatever the team needs.
Other teams shop until they drop. In the end, almost all teams drop and stop. Not the Rams. They keep plugging away. It’s that constant cultivating, constant pruning, constant seeding, and weeding of the roster, that delivers a Super Bowl victory garden.
It’s not changed in 2022. The team may be beginning the process from a different starting point. The team may need to address different positions on the roster. It’s no different than 2021. It will not be any different in 2023 either.
LA Rams GM Les Snead pulled a Super Bowl-winning roster out of his hat for 2021. And guess what? He can do it again.