Los Angeles Rams Detail Most Dramatic Season Ever in The Athletic
The Los Angeles Rams went 5-12 last season. It was the worst drop-off by a Super Bowl champion in NFL history and to hear the Rams explain it, it was basically the worst thing to ever happen to anyone ever. Jordan Rodrigue of The Athletic spoke with dozens of players, executives, coaches and support staff and the resulting piece is incredibly overdramatic. It is perhaps the most dramatic retelling of a 5-win season in the history of the world, with coach Sean McVay owning the fact that he was a very sad boy for most of the season and that "some of the team's ruination was his own creation."
Truthfully, this piece is incredible. It turns out that the LA Rams were straight up not having a good time last year as they suffered through their first losing season of the McVay era. And apparently winning is very addictive because the team went through some serious withdrawals. It was so bad that it nearly ended the McVay era. Not that his flirtation with television networks is actually mentioned. Just the despair and soul-searching stuff. Just look at some of these sentences. Via The Athletic:
McVay, so personally validated by the success of a franchise built to function almost entirely around him, spiraled under a wave of self-destruction, fatigue, grief and frustration. He agonized over whether to leave the team and called his relationship with football “a beautiful torment.”
A beautiful torment is my favorite Fall Out Boy album. McVay was not the only one channeling 00's emo.
“This was a collision of really bad circumstances with true adversity personally,” said COO Kevin Demoff. “Either one I think we would have survived individually. I think the combination … was fatal.”
Fatal! Basically, this was the Rams all season.
But the Rams will persevere as McVay told The Athletic in January that he wanted to be held accountable "for his ongoing personal journey out of the wreckage."
The wreckage was mostly injury problems. Especially on the offensive line where Rob Havenstein "played through a variety of injuries the entire season out of sheer desperation." Havenstein was not the only one going through stuff either. After one loss an "offensive lineman wept, covering his face with his hands." That sheer desperation directly resulted in coaches doomscrolling for linemen, swiping right on any beefy human who might be able to pass protect.
Start-of-week meetings for scouting personnel staff turned into a melancholy routine, scrolling through phone contacts and film clips while quietly asking each other, “Does anybody know a lineman?”
Meanwhile, the skill positions were also having issues with the Allen Robinson signing not working out as expected. Or as Rodrigue puts it, Robinson's "presence in the offense was virtually non-existent — a jarring juxtaposition to the vision described to him before he signed."
Not as jarring as referring to McVay as a supernova and "heart-on-his-sleeve" play caller.
Careful observers can see the ebbs and flows of his brain call by call — and they can also see when creativity and collaboration morph into frustration and angst. When he calls a game, he feels connected to his players and they to him; the unspoken energy is transferred back and forth, good or bad. Or really bad.
“I have an ability to bring people with me in this positive energy and this aura,” McVay said. “But I also believe that can be equally destructive, even if I’m not saying anything. The frustration, the body language guys feel — that leads to them being tighter and not going and playing the way they are capable of.”
So what saved McVay and the Rams? Baker Mayfield, obviously.
When Mayfield hit Jefferson for the go-ahead score, McVay exploded on the sideline. Veins popped in his forehead as he screamed, fists clenched, in a celebration that looked more like an exorcism than joy.
McVay simply decided to make the best of it at this point. He started meeting with players and asked them what they wanted to be when they grew up. Turns out they all wanted to be football players. Go figure. McVay told them to go have fun.
“We didn’t stop the storm,” McVay said. “I didn’t for me, at least. But I at least grabbed an umbrella and I said, ‘I won’t let this totally tear me down personally.'”
That's right. The Rams are back. They're not rebuilding. They're remodeling. McVay has simply chosen to persevere. It's that easy. Time to get back to 10-plus win seasons and Super Bowl runs. Even if McVay did just prove that winning doesn't actually make him happy. I guess he'll worry about that when the hollow feeling of victory returns.