III: Rams shed expensive veterans
When any NFL team faces adversity, the natural and initial instinct is to turn to the veterans on the team and rely upon them to lead the team to greener pastures. But the LA Rams, surprisingly, adopted the opposite type of strategy. And that was a huge gamble for the team in many ways.
The Rams traded, cut, or simply did not make any effort to extend veterans. Zilch. Nada. While that seems to be an unwise, if not insane, strategy, the proof is in the pudding. So how did the Rams pull it off? After all, you could argue that the Rams did not gain enough in any trades to make the juice worth the squeeze. And in many cases, the Rams parted ways from players who did make dependable and positive contributions to the team.
Well, it worked for two reasons. First and foremost, the Rams knew that their 2023 strategy may result in falling short of earning a beth in the 2024 NFL Playoffs. So, to be fair, the team did not want to compel veterans to undertake a step back on the Rams roster, in the attempt to take two steps forward.
Veterans who have competed in the NFL beyond their rookie contract begin to focus on winning a Super Bowl, which is something that the LA Rams honestly had to accept may not happen if things did not work out well. And veterans who were not focused on an NFL Championship were alternatively seeking a huge payday, something that was beyond the LA Rams ability to provide.
But there was a subtle undertone to the strategy as well. Veterans on an NFL team act like training wheels for a child who is trying to learn how to ride a bicycle for the first time, or bumper pads on a bowling alley. The Rams understood that the only way to assure rookies develop quickly and fully is to attempt the sink or swim training method.
That is, the Rams felt it necessary to throw rookies onto the football field, and allow their natural competitive instincts to take over. Rather than bubble wrap young players, the Rams removed safety nets. The team relied exclusively on young players, and as a result, many young players on the Rams roster blew away even the most optimistic expectations.