The last time the Los Angeles Rams had a winning season was 2003.
Unless you have been a part of the fan base or keeping tabs on this team since then, you cannot fully grasp what that means for this team and it’s faithful. The weight lifted off the shoulders with Sunday’s 32-16 win is immeasurable.
Unlike most teams, there were no up-and-down years for the Rams between periods of winning seasons. There wasn’t a break between the, for lack of a better term, shit. There was constant, unbelievably terrible football and unbelievably indifferent management at the forefront of this turd train for more than a decade.
With the 2017 season, the turd train is officially out of commission.
Sean McVay and the new regime are here, and it appears that the Rams have reached the light at the end of the tunnel. This time last year, when it was announced that turd conductor Jeff Fisher was getting an extension, it seemed like the light would never come.
But it did, and the Rams are on their way back to the playoffs. They are part of the postseason discussion once more.
Hell, they are back in the discussion in general. The only time you really saw the Rams in the national media before 2017 was when they pulled off an impressive special teams play, when they relocated, or if they were the opposing team that a big-name athlete was facing in a soft drink commercial.
The Rams still don’t get full recognition from the league
The Rams play the Philadelphia Eagles this Sunday, and it won’t be on Sunday Night Football.
The Rams and the Eagles are the marquee matchup NBC is craving after a slate of match-ups no one really cared about unless they were from the respective fan bases. The Indianapolis Colts, the New York Giants, and the Denver Broncos have all been on Sunday Night, some of them twice, and the Rams remain out of the primetime slot because reasons.
The last time the Rams were on primetime was when they played Thursday Night Football against the San Francisco 49ers, which was very entertaining. The 49ers showed up to play and the Rams closed it out in thrilling fashion.
Winning the division is much sweeter nowadays
The Rams used to hang their hats on the fact that they always did well against the division. But they never did anything outside of the division, which made their minor success moot.
The Rams beat Seattle, San Francisco and Arizona or competed hard against those teams, and there was a sense of pride in that was the team’s best football. But when the division games ended, all three of those teams eventually went on to the playoffs or the Super Bowl, and the Rams were left with nothing.
With the Rams standing at 9-3 now, the divisional rule of the roost feels like it means more. They swept the Cardinals and they are going to the playoffs.
They’re no longer a team that’s “always 8-8”, which means that Bruce Arians and his little hat can now suck it.
There is nothing surprising about the special teams and John Fassel
Sunday’s special teams performance was great, per usual. The unit itself is firing on all cylinders and shows no signs of stopping now. There’s no need to knock on wood because special teams coordinator John Fassel is such a great coach there’s no need for luck. The Rams are lucky enough just to have him on their side.
That’s why Sean McVay kept Fassel on his staff. What he’s done with his guys is nothing short of applause-worthy. There were two blocked field goals on Sunday, and that’s not even the first time the Rams have thwarted field goal attempts. P Johnny Hekker is constantly pinning teams back in their own zone. The arrival of Pharoh Cooper as the new return-man has payed solid dividends.
McVay, Matt LaFluer, and Wade Phillips built this team into a Cinderella story. But Fassel’s impact was made during Fisher’s time and the consistency has not changed since. So, let’s not forget to give credit where credit is due.
Larry Fitzgerald is a living legend
WR Larry Fitzgerald became fourth in All-Time receiving yards and passed up former Ram great Isaac Bruce.
I remember when Fitzgerald appeared on the cover of NCAA 2005 and was the big-name rookie in the league. As it just so happens, he came into the league the last time the Rams got into the playoffs, and the last time they had a non-losing season.
Throughout his tenure with the Cardinals, Fitzgerald has been nothing short of amazing. He’s been incredibly consistent, healthy, and overall talented. He helped the Cardinals get to their first postseason trip and their first Super Bowl, and he continues to help this team stay competitive for the most part.
He’s also one of the most charitable players. His First Down Fund helps more than 300 charities and that’s just the tip of his philanthropist side.
He has no plans of retirement, yet, but after he does, he will be a first-ballot Hall of Famer. No question.