Since 2014 — and arguably two seasons before that — the Los Angeles Rams have been known for one thing if nothing else: a talented roster.
But for years, they couldn’t finish with a winning record. They couldn’t really beat anyone outside the division. But damn it if they didn’t have a roster littered with offensive and defensive talent. Now, the Los Angeles Rams have had the best of both worlds for the last two seasons and it’s likely they will have both for a third season and beyond.
No surprise then that NFL.com’s Gil Brandt placed the Rams at No. 4 on his top 10 most talented teams heading into 2019 joining the likes of the Dallas Cowboys, Philadelphia Eagles and New England Patriots:
Arguably no team in the NFL has better long-term personnel vision than the Rams. As an example: Seeing that the 2019 draft and free-agent classes would be light in receiver and cornerback prospects, they moved aggressively on the trade market in 2018, acquiring receiver Brandin Cooks and cornerbacks Aqib Talib and Marcus Peters. Using trades rather than free agency to address these needs also allowed L.A. to collect extra compensatory picks this year.
The Rams are wicket SMAHT. And more importantly, they’re proactive thinkers instead of reactive thinkers. They’re not playing the hand they have now, they’re preparing to play the hand they might run into down the road.
Of course, the Rams have done well in the draft (the collection of homegrown talent includes Aaron Donald, Todd Gurley, Jared Goff, Cooper Kupp, Rob Havenstein, Joseph Noteboom, Brian Allen and Michael Brockers) and in free agency (the signings of left tackle Andrew Whitworth and receiver Robert Woods couldn’t have gone much better than they did).
The days of drafting a big name in the first round and then filling the rest of the draft list with random names is over (see: Billy Devaney, Tye Hill, Joe Klopfenstein). Every round is utilized even more so now than with Fisher. I always felt like the Fisher drafts put too much value in future draft picks, stockpiling them as currency for the inevitable apocalyptic event instead of using those picks in the present to better the team in the future.
The ability of GM Les Snead to work in lockstep with the coaching staff on roster building has helped the team balance salary-cap concerns in such a way that the Rams were able to extend the contracts of stars like Donald and Gurley without hindering their ability to procure talent where needed.
And they’ve added (signing pass rusher Clay Matthews and safety Eric Weddle and retaining defensive end Dante Fowler) and subtracted (clearing cap space by moving on from linebacker Alec Ogletree last year and linebacker Mark Barron this year) smartly; consider that linebackers are not as critical to defensive coordinator Wade Phillips’ scheme as pass rushers and press corners.
Since 2017, Snead and Head Coach Sean McVay have proven to be a formidable team. While Snead and Fisher worked well together, too, I felt their relationship was not as good as McVay’s and Snead’s is now. Fisher and Snead seemed to be working for the same goal on two sides of the room, each handling one aspect of the objective. McVay and Snead are in one room taking on each (personnel) problem together.
After reading Brandt’s take on how well McVay and Snead are driving the bus, I hope this somewhat eases the “sky is falling” outlook some may have concerning the potential extension for QB Jared Goff. But if it doesn’t, I hope it further sends you into madness and causes you to spew the absolute garbage takes on Twitter. It’s just baseball on TV right now, so I am completely bored.