I know it’s hyperbolic to make grand proclamations of this nature when a team wins the offseason, but hear me out: The Los Angeles Rams should be Super Bowl contenders next season.
The last thing that sticks in our minds about the Rams is their poor performance in the playoffs at home, where they got beat 26-13 by the Falcons. It was a one-score game with six minutes to go — and it could very plausibly had gone the other way if not for two fumbles by Rams returner Pharoh Cooper — but no one would confuse it with an inspiring performance.
Nevertheless, this was an 11-5 division champion that got a whole lot better this offseason, and we haven’t even had the Draft yet. They acquired cornerbacks Marcus Peters and Aqib Talib, and watch the heck out if they also land Ndamukong Suh, whose meeting with team brass this week apparently went well. All three of those players have been varying degrees of personality question marks, but nobody in football is better at properly channeling defensive players than Wade Phillips.
Suh and Aaron Donald on the same defensive line would create matchup horror movies for opponents, especially when the secondary personnel is strong. This is going to be a very formidable defense without Suh; with him it could be borderline impenetrable.
Once Jared Goff had the dual benefit of rinsing off the Jeff Fisher stink and getting involved in Sean McVay’s offense, he made a big leap between his rookie and sophomore seasons. To contend for a Super Bowl the Rams would obviously need more upward trajectory, but his mere existence as a starting QB on a rookie deal has already been an immense benefit to the team as far as acquiring players is concerned.
Todd Gurley led the NFL in rushing touchdowns with 13 last season, and he’s entering pay-me territory. Robert Woods and Cooper Kupp are solid receivers, but the Rams could use a third option, probably from the draft at this point, to replace Sammy Watkins.
The 49ers are another sexy pick because Jimmy Garropolo has never lost a start in his NFL career, but my sense is that the Rams are still better positioned than San Francisco headed into this season. Anyways, we’re, uh, only about a half-year away from football season returning and proving this take right or wrong.