The level of extremism professed today is not just limited to radical ideas that test our politics, philosophy, or even our basic understanding of the world around us. It seems that there are fewer and fewer fans who are comfortable in the middle ground in terms of the LA Rams 2023 season as well.
At 3-6, the LA Rams are not mathematically eliminated from the NFL Playoffs just yet, but if they lose in Week 11 to the Seattle Seahawks (6-3), they may as well be. But some fans are already content to pack it all in and call it a season already. Perhaps mildly surprising is the fact that some fans view 2023 as a lost cause already, and want the Rams to lose out simply to ensure that the Rams end up with the best pick(s) possible in the 2024 NFL Draft.
Of course, the NFL has itself to blame for that topsy-turvy logic. Much like the NBA, bad NFL teams are rewarded for being the worst team in any given season. So you have an organizationally designed competition that rewards the top 14 of 32 NFL teams with postseason competition in the annual NFL Playoffs. But for the other 18 teams, the true value of any consolation prize is to end up among the worst two or three NFL teams to ensure a chance at selecting a game-changing rookie prospect in the next NFL Draft.
It's all or nothing
While the NFL is designed to reset the competitive level of bad teams to a more competitive roster the following season, fans interpret that inevitable favorable draft position in high regard. In essence, if the LA Rams cannot be the best team in the regular season, the Rams certainly can be the top pick in the 2024 NFL Draft.
Instant gratification. Over dramatic reactions on social media. Whatever the cause, the effect creates huge blind spots in the way some fans view the modern game of football. Just to place some perspective on this, farming requires tilling soil planting seeds, tending the crops, and finally, harvesting those crops to sell for a profit. And yet, if you take today's perception of the NFL and apply it to farming, you would find farmers who till and plant, and farmers who harvest, but nobody wants to exhibit the patience to tend the fields and let the crops grow any longer.
Rookies do not show up in the NFL ready to compete with veterans. And that is something that gets lost in the translation. For every player selected in the 2024 NFL Draft that fans expect to play a starting or significant rotational role on the Rams roster, that player will not peak until 2025 at the earliest.
Yes, Rams rookie WR Puka Nacua is already making a name for himself this season. But he is an offensive skill player who, thanks to an early season injury to teammate Cooper Kupp, was given a rare opportunity to play in Week 1 and took full advantage of it to secure a starting role on the team. Even the outstanding play of rookie OLB Byron Young is not enough to satisfy some fans, even though he is outplaying every pass rusher in the 2023 NFL Draft class so far.