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Sean McVay says ‘no tanks’ to Rams skeptics

If the Rams wanted Caleb Williams, they’re going about it in a strange way

NFL: Los Angeles Rams at Seattle Seahawks Steven Bisig-USA TODAY Sports

The Los Angeles Rams are 1-0 and that’s all they are, they’re 1-0. They’re not 17-0 and they’re not 1-16 and they’re not something in between. They’re 1-0. That’s all they are and that’s all that they can be after only playing and winning one game. Set aside the future and what could happen, ignore overreacting to a single win in a single week, just look at what we have and what we can confirm:

The Rams are 1-0 ... and it’s evident that they tried very hard to be 1-0.

No tanks to the people who felt otherwise.

Could a team start 1-0 and end up with the first overall pick? It happens. The 2013 Houston Texans started 2-0 and lost their next 14 games. Were they tanking? No. The Texans were a very bad team that won their first two games.

Whatever happens to the Rams in the next 16 games is up to the Rams, but after defeating the Seahawks 30-13 in Week 1, dialing up a gameplan to blow out Seattle on their home turf, it’s obvious that Caleb Williams is the last thing on McVay’s mind. And for what it’s worth, the Texans barely squeezed out those two wins and not very many terrible teams win any games by 17 points.

Last year’s worst team, the Chicago Bears, did beat the Patriots 33-14 on Monday Night Football. But New England was bringing back Mac Jones from missing three games and he was so bad that he got benched for Bailey Zappe, a quarterback who was released at final cuts this year. The Seahawks lost both of their offensive tackles during the game and that must have helped L.A.’s pass rush somewhat, but it wasn’t as though Aaron Donald wasn’t having his way with Seattle’s line and Geno Smith anyway.

Even Geno knew the day was going to be “Oh My God”.

If the Rams wanted to tank for Caleb Williams, they could have done a better job of it in the offseason. There was no reason to stop short and only go 80% of the way when there were only three more players to sell off for draft picks.

Even with one of those three players on injured reserve to start the season, the remaining two and a supporting cast of starters punching above their weight class were enough to will L.A. to a 17-point victory on the road that was well earned. If the Rams wanted to tank, they did a worse job of it in the offseason than they did of ‘running it back’ in 2022.

Ian Rapoport reported on Sunday morning that not only did the Rams have trade discussions about Matthew Stafford but that there were multiple teams in the running if any of them wanted to make an offer. If the Rams were tanking for Caleb Williams, it doesn’t matter if L.A. gets a first round pick or if they’re hunting for long ... as proven in the Jalen Ramsey trade, they’ll just take a third round pick and Hunter Long.

Literally trade Stafford for anything and the L.A. Rams would clearly be tanking for the number one pick. Then Brett Rypien would be starting and the Rams would certainly be 0-1.

They didn’t do that.

If the Rams were tanking, put Aaron Donald on the trade market and watch GMs flock to floor like it’s time to place your /r/wallstreetbets. The team acquiring Donald would be getting him on a huge discount compared to the $34 million per season contract that the 49ers just signed Nick Bosa to, so L.A. could have tanked, saved money, and gotten back at least one first round pick. They would not have had Donald wreaking havoc against Seattle’s offensive line (again) and the Rams might be 0-1.

They didn’t do that.

When the Rams placed Cooper Kupp on injured reserve with a hamstring injury, it was the worst possible time for a team trying to compete and maybe the best possible time for a team trying to tank. But when two receivers step up in his place to put up 119 yards against the Seahawks secondary and to finally force Stafford to trust someone else, it seems more like the best possible time to find out about Puka Nacua and Tutu Atwell, which perhaps will lead into the best possible time to get Kupp back when Kupp comes back.

The Rams didn’t tank. They trimmed.

The worst offseason the Rams have had in recent years is not the last one, it’s the one before it. It was putting money into Allen Robinson and Bobby Wagner and Joe Noteboom and living with the consequences of trading not only their first round pick, but also their second and third round picks so that they didn’t select anyone until 104 and it was Logan Bruss. L.A.’s roster got worse, not better, but “the cost to be the Rams” went up and it went up way too far.

This past offseason was the consequence—not of winning the Super Bowl, like most inaccurately describe it—but of trying to win the Super Bowl again.

The result was trading Robinson, because he had to go. Cutting Wagner, because he had to go. Trading Ramsey, because he wanted to go somewhere that would guarantee his salary. And drafting as many players as possible because someone had to replace the players who had to go.

That’s where the Rams found Byron Young, Steve Avila, Puka Nacua, and Kobie Turner.

Not players who were going to tank. Rookies who were going to try.

Whatever happens in the next 16 games is up to the L.A. Rams and and a roster that is still very young, extremely inexperienced, and totally unpredictable. Maybe that’s their greatest strength: Pushing into the unknown instead of running away from it.

But what I do know is this: The Rams are not tanking.