On Monday, NBC Sports’ Peter King asked an interested question in his weekly Good Morning Football in America column. After King shared a quote in his column which Colts owner Jim Irsay criticized how the Rams won, he asked the question, “which team would you rather be?”
The quote that sparked this came from Irsay saying,
“There was an article recently saying the Rams mortgaged their future and now they’re paying for it after they won the Super Bowl and had all that success, with the draft picks not being there. To me, that’s what you have to be careful about.”
King answered this question in a pretty short manner because quite frankly, the results speak for themselves. King said about the Rams,
“The Rams, 49-33 in the last five regular seasons with two conference titles and one Super Bowl championship, $5.1 million under the cap (per overthecap.com), with a franchise quarterback, with 11 draft picks overall this year and three in the top 100?”
Over the last five years, the Rams have been one of the most successful franchises in the NFL and Sean McVay has made it to the big stage with two different quarterbacks. The way that the Rams won can certainly be criticized. However, all you have to do is look at the championship banner hanging in SoFi. At the end of the day, the Rams won the Super Bowl and that’s what all 32 teams should be playing for.
About the Colts, King wrote,
“Or the Colts, 41-40-1 in the last five regular seasons with zero conference titles and zero Super Bowl championships, $12.5 million under the cap, searching for a franchise quarterback, with nine draft picks overall this year and three in the top 100—albeit the fourth overall pick?”
Meanwhile, you look inside Lucas Oil Stadium and the most confusing banner in the NFL hangs down. After losing in the 2014 AFC Championship game to the New England Patriots, Irsay hung a banner in Lucas Oil Stadium stating “AFC Finalist”. It’s a made up participation trophy.
That’s the bar of these two franchises. The Colts haven’t won anything since Peyton Manning left the franchise in 2012. They have four total playoff wins in that time span. The Rams have almost double that (7) since McVay took over in 2017.
King wrapped up by choosing the Rams, saying,
“Teams should be in this to compete in Super Bowls, and the Rams have played in two of the last five Super Bowls. The Colts have one Wild Card win over those five years.”
Of course, our good friend and infamous Rams hater Mike Florio from Pro Football Talk had to get involved. Without saying anything, I’m guessing our very smart readers here at TurfShow Times can guess which team Florio chose.
Here's what Florio had to say,
“The NFL is constantly a looking-forward league. And, looking forward, I’d rather be the Colts. For starters, the Rams continue to struggle to truly make SoFi Stadium the ‘Rams House.’ Also, “franchise quarterback” is a bit of a stretch right now for Matthew Stafford of the Rams. He’s an old 35. His contract is way too expensive, with another $57 million becoming fully guaranteed last month. (And, yes, they would have traded him if they’d gotten a viable offer to do so.)”
Let’s break it down.
In 1984, Jim Irsay’s father, Robert, moved the Colts from Baltimore to Indianapolis in the dead of night. The Colts played in one playoff game in the first 10 years of moving to Indianapolis. The first year of NFL attendance data doesn’t come until 1992 and the Colts ranked bottom-5 in the NFL in attendance that season. This is seven years after the Colts had moved from Baltimore. Meanwhile, the Rams were fourth in home attendance last season.
In 2012, the first year without Manning, the Colts had 1 ,800 unsold tickets to each game that year. Looking at 2018, the Colts had their lowest attended home opener in more than 20 years.
According to an article in the IndyStar, “the Colts had the two smallest crowds in Lucas Oil Stadium history to open that season and the worst back-to-back home game attendance since the middle of the 1998 season, Peyton Manning’s rookie campaign.”
The Rams aren’t the only team in the NFL with attendance issues. They are simply pointed out more and held to a higher standard because it’s Los Angeles and not Indianapolis.
Of course, there is an issue when teams like the San Francisco 49ers, Dallas Cowboys, and Las Vegas Raiders visit Los Angeles. This is because while the NFL wasn’t in Los Angeles for 20+ years, fans grabbed on to other teams. However, outside of those games, the “away fan takeover” narrative is significantly overblown.
Florio wasn’t done and continued,
“The Rams, despite recent successes, are currently in the early stages of paying the rookie-meal bill for their “f–k them picks” Super Bowl win. And they know it. Their head coach seriously considered abandoning ship until he received sufficient internal and external pressure to not run away from the mess he helped create. In L.A., the stars have started leaving and it’s going to continue. This likely will be defensive tackle Aaron Donald‘s last year with the Rams. Stafford’s contract eventually will create a cap mess, whenever the Rams cut the cord.”
The way Florio colors this is a very “black and white” picture of the situation. Of course, it’s more complicated. Whether or not you want to believe Les Snead and the Rams brass is completely up to you. However, the Rams will have over $60M in cap space next season and still hold their first-round pick. Additionally, the only star that has left the team is Jalen Ramsey. They still have Matthew Stafford, Aaron Donald, and Cooper Kupp. Whether or not this is in fact Donald’s last year with the Rams is complete speculation by an alleged journalist.
Florio does approach the question in the right way. However, the way he goes about it is completely wrong. While King took a more “look what the Rams have done” approach”, Florio took the “look what the Rams and Colts have moving forward” approach.
However, looking toward the future, the Rams are still in a better spot and it’s not really that close. In the upcoming draft, the Colts hold the fourth overall pick. Bryce Young and CJ Stroud will likely go one and two to the Carolina Panthers and Houston Texans.
This leaves the Colts with either Anthony Richardson or Will Levis. Both of those quarterbacks have major question marks and need a place where they can sit and learn for a year, much like Patrick Mahomes. However, that’s not a luxury that they will get in a place like Indianapolis where Gardner Minshew is currently slated as the starting quarterback. Either of those quarterbacks will be expected to start right away.
In terms of the head coach, Shane Steichen is completely unproven. He did well designing an offense with Jalen Hurts. However, the Eagles had one of the best offensive lines in football to pair with a top-five wide receiver room. That’s not something he’ll have in Indianapolis.
Yes, Quenton Nelson is still with the Colts. However, Michael Pittman is their number one wide receiver and there have been rumblings about whether or not the team should trade Jonathan Taylor.
The Rams have a proven head coach and proven quarterback. That’s a combination that you have to take every single time. Vegas tends to agree as well. In a down year for the Rams, their win total is set at 7.5 wins. The Colts meanwhile have been set at 6.5.
That’s 7.5 wins in a down year and the Rams will have more resources to work with in 2024. As long as McVay is at the helm, the Rams will have a bright future and be in contention. If you compare these two teams’ win total over the next five years, while the Rams may not make two Super Bowls, it’s very possible that they still end up with more wins that the Colts over that span.
If you were a head coach or a general manager and you had to choose the Rams or the Colts, which one would you choose? Would you go with the team that has an owner that is supportive, stays out of the way, and has a proven track record of winning? Or would you go with the owner that essentially forced his head coach to start Sam Ellinger at quarterback last season and can’t get out of his own way?
Which team would you rather be? I’ll take the one with the Lombardi trophy and a top-5 NFL head coach.