Heading into the 2022-2023 campaign, expectations were sky high for the Los Angeles Rams, as the squad was coming off of the winning the second Lombardi Trophy in franchise history. Head Coach Sean McVay boasted a ridiculous winning percentage, multiple NFC West crowns, a couple of NFC Championships, and a Super Bowl title.
I mean, this man Sean McVay was on top of the world and, with a Lombardi to his name, he solidified himself as the greatest coach in the history of the Rams franchise. Rumors swirled about whether or not McVay would return following the title back in February of 2022, as reports about himself mulling retirement began to get louder and louder.
However, following a contract extension prior to the start of last season, all those rumors were put to rest and Sean McVay was locked in with the Rams through 2026. All was sunshine's and rainbows in Los Angeles.
Then, the “Run It Back” season happens, and an absolute nightmare occurred as the defending champs finished with a 5-12 record, missing the postseason and finishing 3rd in the NFC West. After such a horrendous season, question marks began to re-emerge, with more rumors about McVay leaving coming to the forefront despite the new contract he had just inked with the team.
Just one calendar year following a championship, the seemingly “do no wrong” coach did not seem so invincible after all and, for the first time in his head coaching career, he faced real adversity. Sean McVay coached a team that lost 12 games in a season. Sean McVay coached a team with a losing record. How will he respond?
Before we look ahead, we need to take a look at the past. Let’s not forget folks, Sean McVay inherited a team that was coming off of a 4-12 record when he became head huncho back in 2017, a team that was seen as a laughing stock amongst the NFL. What did he do in his first season? Oh, he just led them to an 11-5 record and their first NFC West title since 2003, resulting in a playoff game played in Los Angeles for the first time since 1985.
This incredible turnaround is not by coincidence, it is not an accident whatsoever. Taking what was a horrific team and turning them into an 11-5 division champion is no fluke, it shows the impact of having a world-class head coach.
The only reason this upcoming season is a little different for McVay is because he is not inheriting this team from someone else, meaning there is no one else to blame for the makeup of the squad other than himself and GM Les Snead. There is pressure, there are expectations as a Super Bowl winning coach, and there is reason to believe McVay can respond accordingly.
The core for L.A. (Stafford, Kupp, Donald) is very much intact, with young pieces around them ready to rise to the occasion. With the Rams win total projected around 6-7 wins by multiple sports wagering outlets, the expectation is that they will suffer a second consecutive losing season. I say that is absurdly low and, even with an inexperienced defensive unit, coach Sean McVay is good enough to have this team in playoff contention.
Many folks seem to forget that the Rams were very much in the playoff hunt early in the year last season despite a historic amount of injuries to their offensive line. There were some key moments in the season that did not go the Rams way, which is basically the name of the game in the NFL. Chances are, L.A. will have much better luck in terms of the health of the team, which will lead to more wins.
It seems as though no one expects the Rams to be good next season, something McVay has not experienced since his first year with the team. Everyone has written them off, the triple-crown winner Cooper Kupp, the epitome of clutch in Matthew Stafford, and the sheer dominance of Aaron Donald have all seem to have been forgotten about. Yeah the team lost Jalen Ramsey, Leonard Floyd, and Bobby Wagner, but the team is arguably deeper than last season.
Look, I am not saying the Rams are bonafide Super Bowl contenders, but they will NOT be at the bottom of the league. Sean McVay is a top coach in the NFL and, in a league full of talented football players, coaching always seems to be the difference maker. This season, Sean McVay will show the world why he is who he is.