Over at NFL.com, Adam Rank seems to think so. In his recent State of the Franchise look at this Rams team, Rank paints a generally cheerful picture of football at the Coliseum but tosses an Andrew Whitworth-sized load of pressure upon the curly horns with his Super Bowl or bust expectations:
But with rewards and adulation comes the weight of expectations. In 2019, the organization and its fans around the world should expect nothing less than a Super Bowl win. There is no doubt in my mind the Rams are ready to meet that challenge head on.
So it’s worth asking the question.
Is this really a Super Bowl or bust season, or is that just fun to say?
Let history be our guide
Let’s allow history to guide us in calculating the weight of Rank’s statement. A great group of people to ask would be Rams fans in their 50s, 60s, and 70s, who watched the Rams win the NFC West seven straight seasons from 1973-79, with only a single Super Bowl appearance to show for it at the end of that run.
I have plenty of friends who watched those teams, and I sense there’s a mixed bag of emotions. There seems to be a deep sense of nostalgia and admiration for heroes like Jack Youngblood, Rich Saul, Isiah Robertson, Jack “Hacksaw” Reynolds, and Merlin Olsen. Fans still proudly wear those jerseys at the Coliseum, and it’s a beautiful thing.
But there also seems to be a deep sense of trauma that those same fans carry. A collection of playoff misses at the hands of fellow contenders like the Minnesota Vikings or the Dallas Cowboys never stopped stinging. Even as a fan from the next generation, tales of the snow at Metropolitan Stadium in Minnesota affect me like second hand smoke. And I can barely write about the near Super Bowl victory over the Pittsburgh Steelers in Pasadena, it would’ve been so perfect but instead…pain.
Many might think The Greatest Show on Turf teams underachieved by only capturing one Lombardi, despite being the league’s signature team of the early 2000s; but at least they had that pinnacle moment. Mike Jones happened. There is no anxiety attached to names like Isaac Bruce, London Fletcher, or Keith Lyle. The Greatest Show’s loss to the New England Patriots in Super Bowl 36 was a scar for certain, but only because we wanted to eat more, because we deserved it. That’s a different feeling in retrospect.
When I was a kid my favorite teams were the late 80s Rams that featured Jim Everett, Jackie Slater, Henry Ellard and Jerry Gray. They had great playoff wins against the Philadelphia Eagles and New York Giants, but ultimately lost against the despicable ones from up north, the San Francisco 49ers. While I have many great memories of Kevin Greene and Flipper Anderson, I ultimately have a feeling in the pit of my stomach that we should have beat Joe and changed narratives forever. That’s not a healthy feeling.
So, what about this team?
I actually agree with Rank. This team needs a trophy, because it’s one of the best teams of this mini-era. The Seattle Seahawks got one a while back. The Eagles got one. The Los Angeles Rams gotta get one too.
But does it have to be this season? That’s what the debate should revolve around.
It almost always seems to come back to Jared Goff’s rookie contract window. But if the Rams develop a machine-like system where unheralded draft picks routinely step in to contribute season after season, then an extended window will exist. If Sean McVay’s playbook can stay ahead of defensive conductors around the league, then the window will stay open. If the Rams can continue to be one of the healthiest teams in the league, we can enjoy lasting prosperity. All those things can definitely happen, but none of them are a given, so I think Rank’s proclamation is more correct than not.
Let’s get one heading into the new building so people will always remember We Not Me.
Is this really a Super Bowl or bust season?
This poll is closed
Yup, strike while the iron is hot!
No, the window should be open for a while.
Whatever, win the division again and see what happens.