The Los Angeles Rams entered the 2023 season as a team that was seen as tanking. To say the least, that was not the case as the team made the postseason and finished 10-7. However, after losing 24-23 to the Detroit Lions on the road who are now playing the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in the NFC Divisional Round of the playoffs, there is the question of whether or not this was a missed opportunity for the Rams.
The results for this season don’t necessarily matter in the wider view of the long term goal which is 2024 and 2025. A win on Sunday would be more beneficial in the wider view to Matthew Stafford and his legacy than the team as a whole. This is a team currently ahead of schedule. They are playing with ‘house money’. Either way, this season was a success. The Rams found young pieces in the draft that the can utilize moving forward while pairing them with new star players.
Still, with how the cards unfolded in the wild card round, it’s fair to look at the Rams’ one-point loss to the Lions as a missed opportunity. Had the Rams went to Tampa Bay this weekend to play the Buccaneers, it would have been a great chance to make the NFC Championship Game. With the way that the Green Bay Packers are playing right now, that could have meant a home playoff game at SoFi Stadium. Of course, it could have also meant round three with the San Francisco 49ers who the Rams played closely in Week 2 and beat in Week 18.
If anything, it also shows just how open the NFC currently is in its current state. General Manager Les Snead made the moves he made last offseason so that the Rams could capitalize on the last portion of their window with Aaron Donald, Matthew Stafford, and Cooper Kupp in 2024 and 2025. This would also allow Los Angeles to acquire some other star pieces that can be part of the long-term future.
The next two seasons are more of a priority in terms of the Rams’ championship window. The 2023 season was obviously a success. Los Angeles found young players such as Puka Nacua, Kobie Turner, and Steve Avila who will be part of the future. That was the primary goal for this season. Again, with how things unfolded, it’s hard not to be slightly disappointed.
There’s another way that this season can be looked at in terms of “missed opportunity”. The Rams had a bottom of the barrel roster and were a Jason Myers field goal in Week 11 away from being 3-7. The Rams went on a 7-1 run down the stretch only to lose in the wild card round.
What would have been more beneficial for the Rams long-term? Does this playoff run, winning, and the experience of making the playoffs provide more benefit than a potential top-10 pick that many presumed the team would have at the end of the year?
The Rams should still be able to find a talented player 19th overall. However, will that player be blue-chip caliber like a player in the top-10 might have been?
A team will never turn down a playoff run and, to reiterate, the 2023 season was very clearly a success. However, there’s a missed opportunity on two different ends of the spectrum that are worth discussing as the NFL postseason plays out and as the Rams enter the 2024 offseason.