This is a series of articles crowning a winner for the Los Angeles Rams each week of the 2017 season. For a description of what it means to “win” the week, see the first article here.
The Rams played their first and only primetime game this season last Thursday. It was the highest scoring game of the season thus far. It was also one of the best games of the year and opened many sports talk shows the following day.
There are a ton of players that you can argue won this week. Quarterback Jared Goff played the best game of his career. Running back Todd Gurley finally broke his streak of games without 100 yards. Wide receiver Sammy Watkins proved that he’s still the high-caliber player the Rams expected him to be. Defensive tackle Aaron Donald showed, on a national stage, why many consider him the best defensive player in the NFL. But let’s think for a second of how many topics we can think of that could have been discussed in the sports talk world the following day:
“Is there a coach more promising than Sean McVay?”
“Has Jared Goff already made the leap?”
“Is Todd Gurley the number one fantasy running back in the league?”
“Is Sammy Watkins better off with the Rams?”
“Was this the best football game of the season?”
“Can the Rams win the division?”
“Is this Rams offense for real?”
If you want to summarize these questions with one definitive answer of what to think of the Rams following Week 3, it would be the Rams are exciting. They’re finally exciting. Through the highs and lows of Week 3, they remained exciting to watch the entire game. It was the most entertaining game the Rams have played in a long time.
The winner is:
You know who benefits the most from this excitement? Stan Kroenke.
When Kroenke made the decision to move the Rams to Los Angeles, it was met with a wide variety of emotion on every end of the spectrum. However, when the season was over, there was only one emotion to describe Rams fans: disappointment.
The Rams started off 3-1 before dropping 11 of their next 12 games. Goff played horribly. The rest of the offense played worse. Gurley took a major step back. The defense began to crumble. Our head coach was fired, and attendance was down. Everything about the Rams that wasn’t Donald or punter Johnny Hekker proved to be utter disaster during the 2016 season.
Kroenke’s Los Angeles experiment started to look like a failure. His on-field product was brutal and the new stadium had to be delayed a year. Additionally, the Chargers moved in next door and threatened to take some of the fanbase the Rams desperately needed to capture.
Turning the corner
Even the preseason was a mess. At times, Goff didn’t look much better than last season. The Rams switched up their uniforms to a mixed reaction. Oh, and Donald, the saving grace of the football team, held out for a better contract.
Everything changed when the Rams kicked off their 2017 season. The Rams blew out the Colts in their biggest win since 2014. Goff performed like a guy worth trading up to No. 1 to draft. Gurley flashed the explosiveness teams feared during his rookie year. Cornerback Trumaine Johnson looked like he might just be worth those massive checks he’ll be cashing in. Donald ended his holdout.
The Rams lost to Washington in a hard fought battle in Week 2. Even in defeat, the L.A. was fun to watch. You could tell this was a different team than the one that started out 1-1 last season. Week 3 just proved that even further.
Goff and Gurley anchored an explosive offense that dominated the 49ers defense. Gurley finally ran for over 100 yards and scored three touchdowns, while Watkins torched the secondary for two touchdowns. San Francisco mounted a late game rally thanks to a few Rams mistakes. But the L.A. held on, and everyone is talking about how exciting this team is.
The Rams face off against the Dallas Cowboys in Week 4. They have their fans excited and the rest of the league’s attention. They own first place in the NFC West. If the Rams can knock off the Cowboys, the rest of the league will really take notice.
Even if they lose, Kroenke sits in good shape. He has a promising young quarterback and an even more promising young coach. He has one of the best running backs and one of the best overall defensive players in the league. But most importantly, he has a team that Rams fans can get excited about.
The days of “SOSAR (Same Old Sorry Ass Rams)” may finally be coming to an end. The Sean McVay era has the Rams community buzzing, and Kroenke has the most to gain from this team. The Rams may establish themselves as L.A.’s football team sooner rather than later.
Steve Rebeiro is a staff writer and podcast host for Rams Talk. He graduated from Marquette University in 2016. For more of his opinions, follow him on Twitter here.