Opening the stadium in 2019 fit.
It would give the Los Angeles Rams three full seasons in the Coliseum before moving into their new home. It would line up Rams Head Coach Sean McVay’s third season with the inaugural season in the new stadium. It would allow so many personnel decisions to line up (imagine a newly re-signed DT Aaron Donald leading the team out for Week 1...).
No longer. With the decision to delay the opening of the new stadium to 2020, the timeline on a couple of fronts has changed.
The Rams signed Sean McVay to a five-year contract when they hired him back in January. The delay in the stadium gives him a three-year run in the Coliseum before those final two years of his contract in the new building.
Normally, the third year is the marker by which to gauge whether or not a coach is being effective at meeting whatever institutional goals he and the franchise have set. Scott Linehan was fired in the middle of his third season as head coach. Steve Spagnuolo was fired after his third season as head coach. The question is if McVay would be terminated if he’s unable to course correct the franchise. It’s a tough question to answer.
Jeff Fisher was allowed to get to Year 5 despite not posting a winning record while enjoying the benefit of the RGIII trade. This for a business that does not prioritize winning to the degree nearly all of its competitors do (those aren’t unrelated, obviously). I wouldn’t put it out of the realm of possibility that, should McVay not find immediate success in his first three years as an NFL Head Coach, we head into 2019 waiting for that elusive first winning season under McVay.
I preferred the previous timeline. It would have put full pressure on 2019 to bring a winning record and playoffs. I worry that the delay could absolve McVay and the team of some of that pressure two years from now.
2019 was close enough to get a sense of. We’ll have some resolution for Donald (barring a franchise tag). We’ll know whether or not CB Trumaine Johnson is on a long-term deal or has signed elsewhere. The list of expiring contracts is easy to get a hold of.
2020, though just a year longer, is much harder to get a sense of three years out. It’ll be RB Todd Gurley‘s contract year. Who knows if Jared Goff is the starting QB. The entire offensive line could be different. There’s just nothing we can really feel confident about projecting roster-wise.
Fight for LA
Across the city, there’s another NFL team now. USC and UCLA are gearing up for big seasons with quarterbacks angling to be among the top picks in the 2018 NFL Draft, though fans of those schools certainly will hope that QB Sam Darnold and QB Josh Rosen come back to school. The landscape for football alone is already cluttered. And should Lavar Ball stay in town if his son joins the Lakers...well, the space available among local media is going to be thin.
The stadium at least offered the Rams an easy way to clutch to relevance in the LA sports bubble. We saw it last year in training camp as crowds flocked to practices responding to the novelty of NFL football in LA. That novelty is all but erased thanks to a 4-12 season.
The stadium will boost the Rams into prominence. Delaying the opening leaves that a bit further off in the distance.
The delay itself was an operational one. The ramifications though are much deeper, much wider than just a construction delay. From a new head coach’s evaluation period to a roster that is sure to be wildly different than the one we have today to the effort to build a new identity in their new (old) home, the delay to open Los Angeles Stadium at Hollywood Park will have a monumental effect on the Rams as a franchise.