As Los Angeles-based sports fans, we’ve experienced some great moments. The Lakers, Kings, Dodgers, Angels, Galaxy and Ducks have all had moments of glory. However, the team missing from this list is the Los Angeles Rams. The feeling of championship glory hasn’t happened since 1951. In fact, prior to 2017, the last successful L.A. Rams season was in 1989. Now, almost 30 years later, Ram fans can finally expect good results.
In 1989, the John Robinson-coached Rams featured one of the best offenses in the NFL. The Rams front office stacked the offensive line with talents like Pro Bowlers Jackie Slater and Tom Newberry. Starting running back Greg Bell rushed for 1,137 yards and a league-leading 15 touchdowns. Quarterback Jim Everett racked up 4,310 passing yards and 29 touchdowns, also the leagues’ best. The problem, however, was the defense. The Rams finished 17th overall as a team and the result was a 30-3 loss to the 49ers in the NFC Championship Game. It was a hard day for Rams fans.
So what’s different about this team? The answer is balance, depth and innovation. In that era, the best offenses featured only two or three big production weapons. The spread of the “West Coast Offense” had just begun and defensive coaches were only starting to learn how to stop these prolific passing attacks. Combine that with the fact that Bill Walsh, the inventor of this modified “West Coast Offense,” left the 49ers only one year before, and the Rams were no match for them.
But in 2018, that won’t be the case. General manager Les Snead has constructed a sophisticated, balanced and talented group. He staffed the team with playmaking personnel on both sides of scrimmage, which provides versatility. In 2017, the Rams were the highest scoring team in the NFL and now the defense is equally fortified with four of the leagues’ top 100 players. This includes Aaron Donald, the reigning defensive player of the year and five-time Pro Bowl Nose Tackle Ndamukong Suh, a significant offseason acquisition. With this versatility, the Rams can beat teams with great defenses and great offenses, unlike last season and in 1989.
Granted, a Super Bowl Championship is never a foregone conclusion. The Lombardi Trophy will be earned when one team is left standing. In 2018, the Rams have an excellent chance to be that team and Ram fans know it. Opening day is only a month and a half away. It’s almost time to see what this team can do.