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Even after a tough playoff loss, Rams fans still have plenty to be thankful for

In what was expected to be a “retooling” year, LA defied expectations and built a strong foundation for the future

NFC Wild Card Playoffs - Los Angeles Rams v Detroit Lions Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images

The Los Angeles Rams season has come to an end after a 23-24 loss at the hands of the Detroit Lions in the Wild Card round of the playoffs. It’s never easy to swallow that your team’s chances at a Lombardi trophy are over, but in the Rams case, fans still have a reason to smile as the 2023-24 seasons comes to an end in LA.

Los Angeles was never suppose to be here according to the “experts”, especially after losing players like Jalen Ramsey, Bobby Wagner and Leonard Floyd in the offseason. Consistently projected in the bottom of most NFL rankings all preseason, somehow the Rams, head coach Sean McVay and the front office struck gold over and over in the later rounds of the NFL draft, finding cornerstone pieces to build on for the future.

Puka Nacua has become a top-10 wide receiver in the entire NFL, shattering rookie records that have stood for years. On top of breaking the all-time total for catches and receiving yards in a rookie season, Nacua even made the history books in his first playoff game, breaking the single-game rookie receiving yardage total with 181 yards and a touchdown on nine catches. He looks to be the future heir apparent to veteran WR Cooper Kupp.

NFC Wild Card Playoffs - Los Angeles Rams v Detroit Lions Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images

Rookie left guard Steve Avila and free agent pickup at right guard Kevin Dotson look to be long-term answers on the offensive line. They helped fix a unit that struggled all throughout last year, while paving the way for the NFL’s second-leading rusher in RB Kyren Williams, who broke out in his sophomore season with the team. Williams became the first Rams running back to top 1,000 yards rushing since 2018.

Defensively, Los Angeles can use some work behind Aaron Donald, but they did find two huge pieces along the defensive line in rookies Kobie Turner and Byron Young. Turner led all rookies in sacks with nine this season, and Young was right behind him with eight of his own.

QB Matthew Stafford, coming off an injury-riddled 2022, is now a Pro Bowl player again and looks to be completely rejuvenated by the youth of the franchise. Stafford was sensational in LA’s playoff loss, throwing for 367 yards, two touchdowns and no interceptions vs the Lions. He showed his standard grit and toughness that we’ve come to know him for, as he battled through hand, rib and head injuries in the game. According to McVay, he is already confirmed to be coming back as the Rams starting quarterback for 2024.

NFC Wild Card Playoffs - Los Angeles Rams v Detroit Lions Photo by Nic Antaya/Getty Images

After flirting with retirement the past two offseasons, McVay has also confirmed his own return to the sidelines next season as well. He now looks to be in it for the long haul with LA, and after the Lions game, the Rams coach spoke about his love for this team and how they have helped him find his way.

“Man, did I learn a lot, and really appreciate this group,” McVay said “They helped me find my way again, and how much I love this and how much I love the people that I’m around. And it’s certainly always about people... these players, these coaches.”

While their returns were not confirmed like Stafford’s, it’s hard to believe players like Cooper Kupp and Aaron Donald would walk away now, as the Rams head into their first draft with a full slate of picks since 2016, and a ton of cap space to help fix their defensive backend issues.

The foundation in LA has been rebuilt by the NFL’s second youngest team, their coaching staff and the front office. They looks to be heading in the right direction as the turnaround to start prepping for next year begins quick than you’d think. I personally, could not be more proud of what the Rams accomplished this year, but even more so, I look forward to what the future may hold for this franchise and how great they can potentially be in 2024.