The 2018 season is here and the Los Angeles Rams have some lofty expectations. The front office made several moves to bolster their roster and are now among the favorites to reach Super Bowl LIII. Expectations are very high among Rams players and coaches that this year is the year the Rams make their first Super Bowl appearance in 17 years. Expectations are high in Los Angeles, and the Rams must do to get to the big game in February.
1. The Rams coaching staff must keep the roster’s collective and individual egos in check
The front office added multiple high profile players on defense that have reputations for being hotheads on the field. Aquib Talib and Ndamukong Suh are very talented players whose personalities often lead to boneheaded plays. Talib has fought opponents (literally), yanked chains off others, and poked the eyes of opposing wide receivers. Suh has done much of the same, including “accidentally punching” an opposing QB and stomping another opponent in past seasons. The Rams locker room will feature several over the top characters. The coaching staff has to keep these egos in check.
2. Jared Goff needs to take his game to a different level
Jared Goff produced a fantastic 2017 season after a brutal rookie campaign. Goff looked every bit of what an NFL starting quarterback needs to be and his improved play was a critical factor to the team’s 11-5 record and an NFC West Championship in 2017. If the Rams are to make a legitimate Super Bowl Run, Goff has to take his game to a different level. Goff’s challenge is to win the close games; something he has struggled at times to accomplish, especially against elite competition. Can Goff lead a team to a winning score in the closing minutes of a close football game?
3. Can Todd Gurley play at an MVP level…again?
Running back Todd Gurley had an excellent third season as an NFL pro, compiling 2,093 total yards from scrimmage in 2017. Gurley recorded the type of team that earned him an appearance in the Pro Bowl and MVP consideration. If the Rams are going to make a run at the Super Bowl this season, not only does he need to replicate what he did last season, Gurley is going to have to do things that an MVP would do.
4. The Rams must win the marquee games at home
The Rams took several strides during their 2017 season, including winning the NFC West. The one stain on their achievement last year was their record at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum. Dropping games at home to Seattle and Washington prevented the Rams from securing home-field throughout the NFC Playoffs and subsequent exit in the Wild Card round. If the Rams want to reach Super Bowl LIII, they must win at least six or seven games at home. Going 4-4 at home will not get it done in 2018.
5. Win the NFC West first
The San Francisco 49ers are expected to challenge the Rams for supremacy in the NFC West in 2018. The Rams’ archrivals finally appear to have reloaded with the talent needed to make a run at the division crown. The Seattle Seahawks and Arizona Cardinals are reloading, but the Rams cannot take those two teams lightly. The Rams need to focus on winning the division before they aspire to make any run at the Super Bowl.
Sources: ESPN.com, Jeremy Bergman, NFL network, Robert Quinn, Billswirre