By Steve Finley
Last year at this time the Rams were clearing out their lockers and finishing their exit interviews after ending one of the worst seasons in Rams history. What a difference a year makes. This year they are getting ready to battle the Atlanta Falcons in the National Football League playoffs on Saturday at the Coliseum. Kickoff is set for 5:15 p.m. and the game will be televised on Channel 4.
The Rams ended the 2016 season with a record of 4-12 and they were one of the most boring teams in the league. This year the team finished the regular season 11-5 and they were one of the most exciting and high scoring teams in the league.
What happened? Two major changes were made that made the biggest difference. Number one was they brought in a new coaching staff. Number two, the Rams the new staff came in with a new philosophy. The new attitude started with the slogan, “We, Not Me.”
The 2016 Rams had several players on the roster that were about “me, not we.” Those players were replaced by more team-oriented players that had winning attitudes. When new head coach Sean McVay took over the team, he made it clear that this was going to be a team effort and so far it has all paid off.
“I think you knew that when you get a chance to get the opportunity that we have here, having such a great coaching staff, the types of players we have in the locker room, not only from just a talent standpoint, but also who they are as people, we felt we would be a good mesh in the locker room and I think that’s exactly what it’s been,” said McVay at the Rams training facility in Thousand Oaks.
McVay continued to say, “One thing I think we can be proud of is when you watch our team, these guys compete for each other. You can see the effort show up consistently, you see all three phases (offense, defense and special teams) support one another. That mix of people that enjoy being around each other, there is so much you go through, good and bad, I think it’s important to feel that connection and guys are committed to each other,and I think that it all goes back to being a part of something bigger that yourself.”
If the Rams expect to beat the more experienced Falcons they will need to protect the ball on offense and slow down one of the top offenses in the NFL led by quarterback Matt Ryan and wide receiver Julio Jones. Final score: Rams 35, Falcons 24.