The Los Angeles Rams were aggressive and mortgaged their future in order to give head coach Sean McVay the talent he needed to bring home a Lombardi Trophy.
LA laughed in the face of traditional team-building wisdom and won Super Bowl 56 as a result.
Basking in the glow of the win, McVay took a moment to remind the naysayers that being unconventional sometimes does pay off.
The Los Angles Rams were ultra-aggressive in building their roster
Compared to the old “draft and develop” approach, the Rams built their Super Bowl-winning squad like they were a teenager hopped up on Mountain Dew playing Madden. General manager Les Snead seemingly didn’t care about future assets like draft picks.
He knew other organizations did, though, and used that to his advantage. He traded future draft picks for multiple key players who ended up helping LA secure the Super Bowl win.
Most notable was quarterback Matthew Stafford, for whom Snead traded two first-round picks, a 2021 third-round pick, and quarterback Jared Goff to the Detroit Lions. The Rams may not have a first-round pick in either the 2022 or 2023 NFL Draft because of that trade, but Stafford was arguably the piece that put the Rams over the top this past season. McVay felt he needed a quarterback to run his system the way he wanted to, and Snead mortgaged the Rams’ future to get him one.
Watching Stafford hoist the Lombardi Trophy was worth the risk for LA.
Another good example would be pass-rusher Von Miller, who showed up big for the Rams both in the playoff run and in the Super Bowl. The Rams felt they needed an extra piece for a pass rush that already featured Aaron Donald and Leonard Floyd. LA traded a second- and third-round pick in the upcoming 2022 draft to acquire Miller.
He accounted for four sacks in the playoffs, including two in the Super Bowl win over the Cincinnati Bengals.
Sean McVay felt the Super Bowl win validated the Rams’ approach
As of now, the Rams don’t have a single pick in the first three rounds of the 2022 draft, and they also don’t have a first-round pick until 2024. McVay didn’t seem to care about that after that game, though, and why would he?
He just reached the pinnacle of the sport.
Those realities will set in eventually, of course, but the Rams accomplished what they set out to do when they first adopted this aggressive mentality, and that was to win a Super Bowl.
“It’s a lot of good decisions stacked on one another, but it’s also a lot of really mentally tough, special people finding a way to be at their best in those critical moments,” McVay said after the win, according to NFL.com. “I’m just really pleased to be associated with a group that isn’t afraid to shoot their shot, take chances on things that we feel are in the best interest of the football team. There were a lot of rolled eyes at us. … It’s sweet. I’m really happy for these guys.”
The Rams are now the real deal thanks to their agressiveness
There were a lot of eyes rolled at the Rams — if not publically, certainly privately.
They went against the conventional wisdom of building a Super Bowl team in the NFL, and there were times when it seemed their gamble wouldn’t pay off.
Stafford was great all season, but he did throw one too many interceptions and had a nasty pick-six streak going near the end of the season. There were also times when it seemed that the Rams were all hype and not much bite. They suffered a three-game losing skid midseason that saw them fall to playoff teams in the Tennessee Titans, Green Bay Packers, and San Francisco 49ers.
Speaking of San Francisco, LA finished the regular season with a 27-24 overtime loss at the hands of the 49ers with more San Francisco fans at the game than Rams fans. This is despite the fact it took place in SoFi Stadium.
The Rams appeared to be a joke. Deebo Samuel even went as far as to say that the team had to pump noise into the stadium in order to make it seem like its fans were cheering louder. The Rams appeared to be a team destined to underachieve while their barely-there fan base spent time at the beach, in Hollywood, or watching LeBron James and the Lakers.
All the Rams did from that point on was win games, though, and they did so in epic fashion. They blew through the Arizona Cardinals in the NFL’s first Monday Night Football playoff game and then outlasted Tom Brady and the defending champion Tampa Bay Buccaneers in the Divisional Round.
LA then got its third shot against the 49ers, and this time, the team delivered, winning in overtime. The Rams played both the NFC Championship Game and Super Bowl 56 at SoFi Stadium in front of packed crowds, and it finally felt like they had achieved some sort of home-field advantage.
It also finally felt like they had gained the attention they really deserved. The attention they were working so hard to get.
LA may never be passionate about the NFL like it is other things, but Rams fans showed up in the two biggest games of the season. Watching the team hoist the Lombardi Trophy at the end of a star-studded Super Bowl event, it was clear that the Rams were anything but an afterthought for LA, at least for one night.
Ultimately, a slew of ultra-aggressive moves paid off for the Rams.
Moving to LA was a gamble. Hiring a 30-year-old head coach in McVay was a massive gamble. Trading away two first-round picks to the Jacksonville Jaguars for Jalen Ramsey was a gamble. The Stafford and Miller trades. Picking up Odell Beckham Jr., who appeared to be a malcontent with the Cleveland Browns. It’s a long list.
The Rams took gamble after gamble, but they paid off in a big way. They paid off with a Lombardi Trophy.