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How do Rams return to their “golden era” of football?

Looking at items for LA to achieve during remodeling year

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NFL: Super Bowl LVI-Los Angeles Rams at Cincinnati Bengals Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

Heading into the 2017 season, the Los Angeles Rams were a mess. They were coming off a 4-12 disaster and looked utterly directionless as an organization. Once the year ended, LA had a magnificent seven-win turnaround, finishing 11-5 before losing a wild card game to the Falcons.

That campaign ushered in what has been considered a “golden era” of Rams football.

The golden era lasted five years from 2017-21, topped off by the team’s second Super Bowl title. Last season’s Rams squad similar to the one that Jeff Fisher left behind for Sean McVay to clean up was a mess as they too lost 12 games.

No one is expecting a first-year Greatest Show on Turf rebound to appear out of thin air in ‘23. What fans should be looking to find instead are three items that LA should have on their checklist for the remodel. At the conclusion of this season, I plan to revisit this post to determine how closely the Rams followed it. Without further ado, this is my wish list for the Rams in hopes of them returning back to their peak McVay years.

Nail the NFL Draft (No pressure Les!)

The Rams don’t have a first-rounder once again but they also don’t have the fewest picks either. Welcome to the “all in” club Dolphins! It’ll hurt like hell once it’s over but dang it’s sure a fun ride while it lasts.

Anyways, LA has 11 picks in the draft and 45 roster spots to fill. Les Snead sure has his work cut out for him. With less than two weeks to go until draft night, this is where Los Angeles is projected to pick by round:

Round 2, Pick 36

Round 3, Pick 69

Round 3, Pick 77 (from MIA)

Round 5, Pick 167*

Round 5, Pick 171*

Round 5, Pick 177*

Round 6, Pick 182

Round 6, Pick 189 (from GB)

Round 6, Pick 191 (from TEN)

Round 7, Pick 223

Round 7, Pick 251

*Compensatory selection

The Rams have multiple Day 2 selections compared to the one they spent on Wisconsin guard Logan Bruss in Round 3 last year. Very few contributors if any should be expected from this class immediately. LA will likely be leaning more towards picking for depth in 2024, not this upcoming campaign.

As long as half the draft class flashes some potential in limited playing time, Los Angeles should feel much better about the predicament of their own creation.

Rely on youth like Akers and Tutu to lead the way

Remember when Cam Akers was on his way out and Tutu Atwell was a bust? Those were sure some fun times. The jury is still out on both those guys but at least they made the most of their time on the field, particularly Akers during his season-ending hot streak.

Should Cam be able to replicate much of that production, LA’s offense will be in great hands, finally giving Matthew Stafford the ground attack he’s rarely had throughout his career. McVay leaning on Akers on early downs and sticking with him even when times are tough will only make the running back’s confidence grow. Maintaining an 75-80 percent snap count when healthy is a realistic goal for the fourth-year back.

As for Tutu Atwell, we get the guy isn’t Creed Humphrey so anyone still bitter over the pick should get over it! Atwell was too cutesy of a pick at the time but hasn’t been used much in the offense. He might be a knockoff Tavon Austin yet this is the season to prove himself. Will McVay finally cut him loose? Hard to tell. I doubt it but you never know. I am quite tired of seeing him routinely being labeled a bust.

Draft picks realistically have three years to make their mark in the NFL. Meaning, Atwell’s curtain call has arrived so there’s no time like the present to prove the haters wrong. This is a bold wish but I’d like to see Atwell approach 500 yards receiving and at least five total touchdowns. Based on his small sample size, he has game changing speed. What he needs is more opportunities and McVay has to give him a shot to earn it.

Take care of NFC’s cupcakes & be in playoff hunt past Thanksgiving

Cupcakes aren’t very filling as they’re just empty calories but boy do they taste great in a pinch. Same difference with the NFL schedule. If the Rams load up on the sugary weaklings on their schedule, they could possibly fool around and find themselves back in the playoffs. That’s a tall task given their opponents on the docket:

LA will likely get swept by San Francisco for the umpteenth year in a row so those two matchups are already a wash. Then games against two of the NFC’s best in the Cowboys and Eagles will be brutal as well. Other than that, the Rams can hang with the rest of ‘em.

Arizona will be horrible. Green Bay doesn’t have Aaron Rodgers. At least I’m pretty sure that’s the case. I have zero clue what is going on there but most of all, not sure what to make of Jordan Love. Commanders will be mediocre despite getting rid of the Wicked Witch of the East. Saints are a wild card with Derek Carr. Daniel Jones might revert back to a rotting pumpkin with the Giants. Seahawks will be another pesky testament to Pete Carroll.

The fanbase acts as though LA has no chance to make a run. With the present state of the roster, this team is clearly thin in notable areas, particularly on the O-line and in the secondary. Maybe not a recipe for success against the top dogs but it’ll do just fine against the runts of the litter. Anything between seven-to-nine wins will keep the Rams in contention past Thanksgiving. That’s not a tall order whatsoever considering the state of the conference.

It’s hard to believe a team with Matthew Stafford, Cooper Kupp and Aaron Donald will finish with a record bad enough to be picking in the top-five in next year’s draft. I expect LA to surprise and win a few games they shouldn’t. Possibly even a Super Bowl rematch. Okay actually Evan, settle down there buddy because that’s asking way too much. Sorry to get anyone’s hopes up.