By Steve Finley
First of all, give the Rams credit for accomplishing one of the biggest turnarounds in National Football League history. In 2016, they were one of the worst teams in the league. This past season they were one of the best teams in the league.
In 2016 they were at the bottom of the league in scoring. In 2017 they were the top scoring team in the NFL and that brings us to the disappointment most of the 74,300 Coliseum fans felt when the Rams scored only 13 points last Saturday in their 26-13 playoff loss to the Atlanta Falcons.
For the first time this season the majority of the fans at the game were cheering for the Rams. That may sound a little strange but for some reason fans from the opposing teams have made their presence felt during all of the Rams games during the past two seasons. This game was different. The crowd was great and the atmosphere was electric but Rams played like the 2016 team, not the 2017 team.
What happened? Was the game too big for the young Ram team? Did the coaching staff make a mistake by resting the starters two weeks ago against the San Francisco 49ers, or were the beaten by a more experiences team? It’s probably all of the above, but the Rams also committed two costly turnovers that led to 10 Falcon points.
The Rams are a young team. Only six out of their 53 players have had playoff experience. The players lacking in experience and coaches giving the starters the week off against the 49ers, made everyone look a step slow.
The Rams head coach is smart enough not to make the same mistake twice, so next year the Rams will know what to expect if they make it to playoffs again. They have the all the pieces in place to make another run at a Super Bowl title.
Ram’s quarterback Jared Goff had a good year. Running back Todd Gurley II was outstanding and their offensive line opened holes for Gurley all year. The receivers were reliable and the special teams played well all season.
On defense, the Rams were solid under the direction of defensive coordinator Wade Phillips. Defensive linemen Michael Brockers, Ethan Westbrooks, Aaron Donald and Robert Quinn did their jobs all season.
The Rams finished the season 11-6 after going 4-12 in 2016. Head coach Sean McVay can now look back on a job well done by the whole organization. Hopefully 2018 will be better.