The Los Angeles Rams were quickly dismissed as contenders from the NFC playoff mix by the midway point in the season. Inexperienced depth players at quarterback and the offensive line were not able to support a top-heavy roster. After finishing with a 5-12 record, the Rams are contemplating how to “remodel” for the 2023-24 season.
Meanwhile the division rival San Francisco 49ers and NFC East Philadelphia Eagles are playing for the NFC Championship Game right now. These two teams have been remodeled over the years after their respective Super Bowl appearances. San Francisco lost to Kansas City in Super Bowl LIV, while Philadelphia prevailed over New England in Super Bowl LII. Both teams have new quarterbacks starting in the championship game. Both teams have made splashy moves on the open market.
With that in mind, here are 3 reasons why the Rams should be able to return to the NFC Championship Game as soon as next season!
1. Rams have the necessary core.
Both San Francisco and Philadelphia have long tenured veterans on their roster. Those names include Jason Kelce, Lane Johnson, Fletcher Cox, Brandon Graham, Deebo Samuel, George Kittle, Trent Williams, Nick Bosa, Arik Armstead, and Fred Warner. Those strong building blocks have allowed those teams to return quickly to the NFC Championship after a brief hiatus.
The Los Angeles Rams have a core of their own with Matthew Stafford, Cooper Kupp, Rob Havenstein, Aaron Donald, Leonard Floyd, and Jalen Ramsey. Even Bobby Wagner provides a pedigree for his leadership and championship game experience. While the Rams are considering a remodel to avoid such a top-heavy roster, at the end of the day they need the bulk of these names for another run.
2. Sean McVay and Les Snead brain trust.
Not to keep mentioning PHI and SF, but both teams have strong leadership and front offices. The Eagles moved on from Doug Pederson, but Howie Roseman has been one of the best General Managers in the NFL. His ability to financially keep a competitive roster each year has been impressive. As for the 49ers, Kyle Shanahan and John Lynch have created a strong work relationship that has fielded one of the most physical teams in the NFL.
Luckily for the Rams, Sean McVay is one of the best head coaches in the NFL despite being the youngest. He has one Super Bowl title, two Super Bowl appearances, three NFC West division titles, and five seasons with an above .500 record. He has also coaches a triple crown winner, two offensive player of the year recipients, and a three-time defensive player of the year. Les Snead has also been a magician when it comes to a roster-build. He has traded for Stafford and Ramsey (not to mention Watkins, Cooks, Corbett, Talib, and Peters), signed free agents like Robert Woods, Andrew Whitworth, Ndamukong Suh, A’Shawn Robinson, and Leonard Floyd.
Let’s not underestimate how motivated Sean McVay will be after his first losing season as a head coach in the NFL.
3. NFC is open for taking.
The AFC Conference will be a fight for many years to come with Patrick Mahomes and Joe Burrow headlining the way, while youngsters like Josh Allen, Trevor Lawrence, Justin Herbert, and Lamar Jackson continue to knock on the door.
The NFC Conference does not have the elite talent that it once had in the 2000s and 2010s decades. There are not any teams that resemble the likes of the Seattle Seahawks and the Legion of Boom. Currently, the teams that seem poised to contend in 2023 are: Philadelphia, San Francisco, New York, Dallas, Minnesota, Detroit, and Los Angeles. Even then, the majority of those teams do not have the high-profile quarterback play like the AFC Conference. Daniel Jones, Dak Prescott, Kirk Cousins, and Jared Goff have yet to show that they can take their teams to the next level other than being a playoff team.
Matthew Stafford shed the label of being a mediocre quarterback when he navigated the Rams to four straight wins in the playoffs last year, including game winning drives in three of them.
Barring the emergence of a team like in the NFC South, the NFC should remain relatively open like it was this year. The Rams should be able to capitalize with their experience as long as they remodel appropriately this offseason.