Last season, the Los Angeles Rams were as close to being on top of the football world as one can get without winning the Super Bowl. They won an NFC championship and lost a hard-fought Super Bowl to the New England Patriots. Despite the loss, they felt confident about their chances moving forward. They had a promising young quarterback in Jared Goff and a loaded defense.
But things haven’t gone so smoothly this year. Worse yet, the team looks like it may struggle for quite some time beyond just 2019. Let’s take a closer look at why the Rams won’t make the Super Bowl again anytime soon. (All results and stats are valid as of games played before December 12, 2019).
The Rams’ 2018 season at a glance
As noted above, the Rams had a magical season in 2018. Under head coach Sean McVay, they finished 13-3, first in the NFC West. They defeated the Dallas Cowboys in the divisional round of the NFC playoffs. In the NFC championship game, they topped the New Orleans Saints in controversial fashion after a questionable pass interference call went their way. They ultimately lost to the Patriots in the Super Bowl, 13-3.
The Rams were one of the NFL’s best offenses throughout the regular season with 527 points. That was the second-highest total in the league, and their defense was 20 with 384 allowed. A highlight of the season was a thrilling 54-51 victory over the Kansas City Chiefs in Los Angeles. It was one of the highest-scoring games in NFL history. The Rams put up at least 30 points in 12 of their 16 games.
The Rams have struggled for most of the 2019 season
Whereas 2018 was a dream year, 2019 has been closer to a nightmare. The Rams are 8-5, which isn’t an awful record. In the hyper-competitive NFC West, however, it won’t win the division. The Rams are in third place behind the San Francisco 49ers and Seattle Seahawks. They’ve scored 311 points — good for 12th in the league. They’ve allowed 262, which puts them at 11th.
The Rams haven’t completely bottomed out this season, but there may be one big reason why they shouldn’t be punching their Super Bowl tickets anytime soon.
Why the Rams won’t make the Super Bowl anytime soon
The Rams may be encountering more than just a Super Bowl hangover in 2019. They may have gutted their team with almost no chance to get back into the Super Bowl. Since 2016, the Rams have aggressively traded valuable draft picks in an attempt to win now. USA Today prepared a summary of picks the Rams have traded and what they’ve acquired in return for them:
- 2016: Traded their first-round pick (No. 15), two second-rounders, and a third-rounder to the Titans to draft Jared Goff. Traded their fifth-round pick to the Eagles and acquired Nick Foles
- 2017: Traded their first-round and third-round picks to the Titans to draft Jared Goff
- 2018: Traded first-round and sixth-round picks to the Patriots for Brandin Cooks. Traded a second-round pick to the Bills for Sammy Watkins. They traded a fourth-rounder to the Chiefs for Marcus Peters. Traded a fifth-round pick to the Broncos for Aqib Talib.
- 2019: The Rams traded a second-rounder to the Chiefs for Marcus Peters. Traded a third-round pick to the Jaguars for Dante Fowler Jr.
- 2020: Traded a first-round pick to the Jaguars for Jalen Ramsey. Traded fifth-round pick to the Jaguars for Dante Fowler Jr.
- 2021: Traded a first-round and fourth-round pick to the Jaguars for Jalen Ramsey. Traded a fifth-round pick to the Browns for Austin Corbett.
There’s nothing inherently wrong dealing away so many high-end picks to sure up areas of need now. The major issue with this approach is that the Rams may have already seen their best chance for a championship — last season — come and go. Dealing for Ramsey put the Rams in Super Bowl or bust mode, but if they bust, it will be difficult to get back on top.
Now, they’ve given quarterback Jared Goff a hefty extension with diminishing ability to put young talent around him. Todd Gurley’s best days might be well behind him, yet they are paying him like an elite running back. The Rams could be in serious trouble for the foreseeable future.