SB Nation released a new design and a new mission today to connect better with fans of every sport and of every team. As part of that, our NFL sites were asked to look at where each team is headed five years from now.
What will the Los Angeles Rams look like in 2022?
1.) They’ll have a new home.
There’s no bigger marker on the horizon than the stadium in Inglewood. There might not have been a bigger marker for the NFL as a whole in the last decade. The Rams’ relocation to Los Angeles and the scope of the project being funded by Rams Owner Stan Kroenke will fundamentally and profoundly have an international effect on professional sports, entertainment and the confluence of those two entities with governments, local and otherwise.
Currently scheduled to open for the 2019 season, there’s nothing more important for the Rams’ future plans than their stadium. And while it has, understandably, been the biggest priority for the franchise, by 2022 it will just be home...and the Rams will just be a “normal” NFL franchise.
2.) They’ll get swamped out by other LA teams if they don’t win between now and then.
The Rams went 4-12 last year and maintained relevance in the LA sports world because of the novelty of NFL football returning to LA. That popularity afforded to the Rams just for existing? That’s gone.
Not only are the Rams no longer enjoying the bump from residents interested in the spectacle of NFL football, they’re sharing the market with the Los Angeles Chargers. And unlike St. Louis which had just two other professional sports teams and limited college sports exposure, LA is stacked with teams and stars and stories to compel even the most casual fan to pay attention.
If the Rams extend their 13-season streak without a winning season for much longer, they’ll get drowned out by the noise being made by other teams.
3.) They’ll have a star in QB Jared Goff...or he won’t be a Ram
In the seven games Jared Goff started last year, the Rams went 0-7. He averaged 155 yards per game throwing five touchdowns and seven interceptions. It’s not just that he played horribly. It’s that the Rams sacrificed much of their opportunity to improve the team by trading up to the #1 overall pick in the 2016 NFL Draft to get Goff. So it’s not just that Goff needs to succeed just to justify the pick. He has to produce more value than the collective opportunity costs of what the Rams could have had to justify the trade.
This year, the other quarterbacks in Los Angeles are Chargers QB Philip Rivers, USC QB Sam Darnold and UCLA QB Josh Rosen. He’s likely looking at a scenario where, just a year after the Rams traded up to #1 to get him, he’s at the bottom of the QB power rankings in his hometown.
New Rams Head Coach Sean McVay is under no requirement to tether his employment to Goff’s play. Much like the Rams’ previous Head Coach/#1 overall QB pairing in Jeff Fisher and Sam Bradford, McVay will be under pressure to get the Rams back to winning football when the new stadium opens.
By 2022, either Jared Goff will have blossomed into one of the NFL’s better quarterbacks on a winning Rams team, or he won’t be around to enjoy the comfort of the new digs.
4.) They’ll draft the Pac-12 heavily
The Rams do branding well. And nothing will help them craft a West Coast image more than soaking up talent from across the Pac-12.
5.) They’ll continue to play in other countries
Kroenke has been vocal about his desire to export the Rams into other markets, similar to how dedicated he’s been about dispatching Arsenal, his English Premier League team, throughout Asia in their offseason.
The Rams sacrificed one home game a year from 2016-18 to play in London and China. By 2022, they’ll still be playing in Mexico, in Brazil, in India and wherever else Kroenke sees an opportunity to push the profit margins.