With every NFL offseason comes differing levels of optimism amongst fan bases. For Los Angeles Rams’ fans, it’s usually the excitement of the NFL Draft and the acquiring a big name free agent or two that help push potential to promise. The talent, as seemingly always, is there...but they just need that one or two extra pieces in place to get them over the top.
At least that’s how it seems.
And then the regular season kicks off, and by the time it’s all said and done, fans are left scratching their heads, wondering what went wrong. What’s it going to take to finally - in the words of Jeff Fisher - "get that fixed"? And the vicious cycle starts over again.
Peyton Manning, who still has one very meaningful game left in the 2015-2016 season, may call it quits after this year. But then there’s speculation that he could move on from Denver. And, go figure, Los Angeles is being thrown around as one of those potential landing spots. Imagine that...one of the all-time greats taking snaps from Tim Barnes.
But doesn’t stating that Peyton is a good fit for the Rams assume they’re "one player away" from making it happen? The Rams aren’t the Bengals...a team that makes it to the dance, but is quickly ousted each year. A team that could truly be one player away from taking the next step. They’re the Rams. The team that hasn’t had a winning season in 13 years.
So just how close are the Rams?
The folks over at ESPN recently ranked each NFL teams chances as it pertains to making it to the Super Bowl in 2017. For the sake of this exercise, I’ll provide you with the rankings/categories first. Where would you rank them?
10. On the Cusp of a Super Bowl Appearance
9. Most of the Pieces to Contend
8. Close, but Injuries, Free Agency Loom
7. Talented but Missing Critical Pieces
6. More Questions than Answers
5. In the Middle of the Pack
4. Lots of Work to Do
3. Talent, Depth Needed
2. Big Rebuilding Job Ahead
1. Nowhere Close
Whew! A tough task, it would appear, as I’ve often described the Rams - almost verbatim - as a few of the items on this list.
But ESPN’s Nick Wagoner got to make the call for the Rams. Survey says!
3. Talent, Depth Needed
The Rams haven't even been to the playoffs since 2004 or had a winning record since 2003. The number would be higher if it were for "playoff contender," but this is for the Super Bowl. There are some good pieces in place for the future but this team also has major questions to answer this offseason on the free-agent front. Until the Rams have an offense that can be at least middle of the road and/or a coach who proves capable of doing better than seven wins with this team, the Super Bowl looks to be a long way off.
Wagoner isn’t wrong, and it brings me back to my initial point: the Rams aren’t that close, because they can’t find ways to put together a winning season, let alone sniff a playoff berth. It may be a tough pill to swallow - especially for those who made it to No. 7 on the ESPN list and nestled in - but the reality that they can’t eclipse the eight-game mark remains.
In a few months, the Rams will use days one and two of the NFL draft to add key playmakers, probable starters, to their roster. That alone will provide enough excitement to get fans through the offseason. Throw in a few high profile free agents, and now they’re cooking with gas! But, until the Rams are able to actually turn potential into production, I’m afraid Mr. Wagoner is right.
Where did you rank them initially? And did Wagoner’s perspective sway your opinion at all?