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Les Snead belongs on hot seat if Rams have another rough season

Winning a Super Bowl only buys so much time

NFL: Combine Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Winning has the tendency to cover up a team’s flaws or underlying issues. Once something goes wrong and the winning stops, panic ensues after those glaring flaws have finally been exposed.

When the Los Angeles Rams won Super Bowl LVI in February 2022, General Manager Les Snead was hailed as a hero by the fanbase. Fast forward to a year later where a decent chunk of the fanbase now wants him gone after Snead traded away Jalen Ramsey for a bag of chips.

Fans have a right to feel upset over the lack of quality picks in the Ramsey trade. Most of them figured the Rams would get at least a first or second-rounder in return instead of a third-rounder and a tight end who has one career reception for eight yards. This is far from the only time Les Snead has gotten next to nothing in return for an elite player.

Todd Gurley was known to have lingering knee problems and was still given a lucrative deal. Gurley signed his extension prior to the 2018 season and only lasted another year before LA cut him loose. At the time, no team in their right mind would’ve been willing to trade for a declining running back on a bloated contract but that’s not the point I’m trying to make here.

What needs to be said is that Les Snead needs to be held accountable for his poor mistakes over the years. I will make it very clear that I don’t believe Snead should be fired or even placed on the hot least not yet. Fans clamoring for him to lose his job over the Ramsey trade are overreacting. Les rightfully deserves all the heat coming his way for that debacle. Again, no one should’ve been surprised over the lowball return based on the GM’s history.

That “F them picks” mentality shouldn’t have f’ed the entire team up in the long haul yet here are. LA has an unflattering habit of releasing or trading players not long after signing weighty contracts that Snead himself handed out.

Gurley I had already discussed. Jared Goff and Brandin Cooks were both gone within two years. In no way did the transactions “blow up in their faces” as Dov alludes to. During those seasons, LA finished with winning records. Handing out monster deals and draft picks like Halloween candy only became a problem once the Rams stumbled to 5-12 record after winning a Lombardi.

Snead hasn’t been a fast learner as he continues to rush into huge investments. Maybe it’s just the armchair GM in me but isn’t it better to spread the wealth rather than commit large wads of cash to your top five players? Following the playoff run in ‘21, Les made the right call to re-sign Cooper Kupp and Aaron Donald. Although everyone knows spending sprees are fun until the bills are due.

It’s the Matthew Stafford contract that’s giving me pause as his injury history from his final seasons with Detroit is coming back to bite him and the team severely. If Stafford is unable to put the injuries behind him, LA is stuck with his bloated deal with no clear option behind him now that Baker Mayfield is in Tampa.

Some of the naysayers have wanted Les Snead pushed out the door even while the team was a top NFC contender. Yes, even before the team was able to win the Big Game. His resume pre-McVay isn’t very flattering which has forced those talking heads to believe Snead has been a fraud the entire time and got lucky when he finally caught lightning in a bottle.

I’m not out to slander the very guy who drafted Donald and Kupp and brought a Super Bowl back to the Rams. Les has earned the chance to remodel the team how he wants. Winning a title will give anyone leeway. However, there will come a day when that honeymoon period wears off.

In the NFL, no one cares how many rings someone has won in the past if they’re unable to produce in the present. Pretty soon, that Super Bowl win over the Bengals will be years in the rearview mirror. What kind of shape will the Rams be in when the glory days have pasted them by?

Snead’s reckless approach to team building deserves praise but it won’t be the way of the future in the NFL. Should the Rams continue their downward spiral, opposing teams will use them as an example of the cost of being “all-in”. Miami is trending down that path with the acquisition of Ramsey and others the last couple offseasons. While their Russell Wilson story isn’t complete, Denver is seeing the flaws in overcommitting to a star early before watching their play fall off a cliff. Most teams around the league don’t have nerves of steel like Les Snead and the Rams have.

The LA GM’s fearless mentality is his greatest strength and quite possibly his greatest weakness as well. Four days leading up to the Rams trading for Jalen Ramsey in 2019, Snead had this to say about his roster construction practices:

“We only live once, so don’t live your life scared,” Snead told Yahoo Sports. “…Any time you make a move, you do try to have protocols in place that can help you make sound decisions. But you’re not playing for the tie. You’re trying to go win.”

Repeatedly going for the win has cost his team in the long run. Based on how the Rams are positioned now will send Les straight to the hot seat if LA suffers a second-straight down year. Playing for the tie is never sexy but sometimes it’s smarter to play things a tad more cautiously. Likely easier to cut losses there than on the unemployment line.