February 13, 2022, nary nine months ago, the Los Angeles Rams were on top of the world. They won the freaking Super Bowl, on their home turf, in a stadium paid for by the other 31 owners. Life was good.
Fast forward to this week's heartbreaking news about Super Bowl MVP Cooper Kupp, and the Rams sit at 3-6. In the basement of the NFC West. Expected to lose this week as they travel to a team quarterbacked by Andy Dalton. Times — they are a-changing.
There are many factors in this historic collapse. Injuries are certainly at the forefront. The offensive line has been decimated and almost every Week 1 offensive starter has missed time this year. Even Iron Man Matt Stafford has been in concussion protocol for two weeks now. Injuries heal, leaving fans hope for 2023 and beyond, but the next reason quickly rescinds any of that.
The second factor lies in the team-building philosophy. We lauded the Rams for spending first-round picks as if they were candy. It netted them players like Jalen Ramsey and the aforementioned Stafford. Built them a roster that was able to pull off the ultimate achievement. Like Ariel gaining the ability to walk it came with consequences, however.
Not all draft picks work out, that is true, but the phrase "build through the draft" is not an empty platitude. The draft picks a regime makes, especially the early round ones, fill the roster with trusted projects that can step in and fill a void if necessary. If a draft pick emerges as a bonafide stud, fantastic, but usually a team can be successful if they simply draft solid NFL-caliber talent.
Without any picks, the Rams have been forced to work with talent better suited for the XFL, and the cracks are showing.
This is a squad with an aging quarterback, an aging defense and a head coach rumored to be looking lustfully at the announce booth. The first-round pick shopping spree was well worth it. It won them a championship. But there lie dark days ahead and the rebuild will be costly.
Head on over to FanDuel Sportsbook. Think the defending Super Bowl champion Rams can pull off a miraculous road win against 2-7 Saints, or lose by fewer than five points? Take the Rams +4.5! If you're all in on the Saints to bulldoze this broken team and win by five or more points, take the Saints -4.5.
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