The last 10 Super Bowl winners’ regular season record the following campaign reads as:
2012: New York Giants - finished the following season 9-7.
2013: Baltimore Ravens - finished the following season 8-8.
2014: Seattle Seahawks - finished the following season 12-4.
2015: New England Patriots - finished the following season 12-4.
2016: Denver Broncos - finished the following season 5-11.
2017: New England Patriots - finished the following season 13-3.
2018: Philadelphia Eagles - finished the following season 9-7.
2019: New England Patriots - finished the following season 12-4.
2020: Kansas City Chiefs - finished the following season 14-2.
2021: Tampa Bay Buccaneers - finished the following season 13-4.
2022: Los Angeles Rams - currently 3-8
The 2022 Super Bowl winners looked immense. You had the triple crown-winning wide receiver Cooper Kupp, arguably one of the best defensive tackles of all-time in Aaron Donald, the best version of Matthew Stafford, shut-down corner Jalen Ramsey, as well as one of the finest coaches in the league in Sean McVay.
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Fast forward 288 days and that same team are on track to have the worst season after a Super Bowl win ever, so where has it all gone wrong for the Rams?
Matthew Stafford, Cooper Kupp and big-money free-agent acquisition Allen Robenson have all been poor. Issues at running-back with Cam Akers and the now released Darrell Henderson have seen problems on and off the field.
Stafford has been battling with injuries and is currently benched due to a neck injury as well as being in concussion protocol after receiving his second in three weeks. The aforementioned Kupp is likely out for the rest of the season which is a massive blow as he was the only member of the Rams offence that was still performing. He had over three yards of separation with a 76.53% catch rate for 812 yards.
Robinson has proved to be a huge disappointment. His numbers across 10 games read as 33 receptions, 339 yards, three touchdowns and just a 63% catch rate. These are far less respectable than those of Kupp, especially for a man who signed a $30m guaranteed contract in the summer with so much hype surrounding the move.
Prior to his release, Henderson and Akers were averaging just four yards and 3.3 yards per carry respectively. They are the league's two lowest running backs in yards gained while both are actually underperforming their Expected Yards gained by a combined total of 84. This is certainly influenced by the loss of retired Left Tackle Andrew Whitworth and a long standing absence of Brian Allen offensive line, however, both players are still more than capable of making plays and simply haven’t done.
Akers was also expecting to be traded before the deadline but nothing could be agreed. The loss of Whitworth on the OL has clearly been a bigger loss than the Rams had anticipated and the quality of the replacements are obviously not up to scratch so there’s plenty to consider in the upcoming off-season.
The defence has actually not been too bad. The signing of Bobby Wagner has been solid, with the 8x Pro Bowl Linebacker putting up 90 tackles. Aaron Donald just doesn’t look the same this season despite being on track for a similar campaign statistically, often battling through double teams while linebacker Leonard Floyd is doing his best to contribute, offering similar numbers to Donald when it comes to affecting the opposition.
The Rams secondary is led by Jalen Ramsey but besides him they don't have another big player who can step up. The stats go to show that Ramsey is being asked to do more this season, with less teams afraid to target the 5x Pro Bowl corner. Safety Taylor Rapp and fourth year cornerback David Long amongst the more notable players but it’s hardly a star-studded line-up.
Draft Capital Problems
The Rams are famous for not using their draft picks or rather not valuing them. They have opted for an approach that leaves them high and dry for young talent as they’ve often given up their picks in pursuit of instant success. Everyone knows that you get the best players in the draft in the earlier rounds, statistically at least.
Since Sean McVay became Head Coach in 2017, the Rams have traded a total of 28 picks and received just 16 but here’s the difference; they’ve traded five 1st, two 2nd, three 3rd, four 4th, five 5th, three 6th and four 7th round picks but only received one 2nd, three 4th, one 5th, nine 6th and two 7th round picks. This pursuit of success paid off last season but isn’t sustainable and the quality of players they’ve been able to/are able to recruit due to their lower draft ranking. If we were McVay we’d probably start trying to draft effectively and develop some young talents.
The long and short of it is that this stark decline of the Rams may not reflect the team’s ability nor the quality of players but maybe just a dip in the cycle. Sustaining yourself at the top of the NFL is tough but a decline such as this is such a contrast to the side we saw lift the Lombardi trophy in February. They could still finish with a winning record but we won’t hold our breath.
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