The Los Angeles Rams are enjoying an impressive first half of the 2018 NFL season, starting off with a 9-1 win-loss record. This achievement leaves the Rams as the one of only three 1-loss in the NFL, with the Kansas City Chiefs and New Orleans Saints as their sole challengers for best teams in the league.
The Rams were not always the dominant and the cause of anxiety for opposing teams as they are today. Just 2 years ago they had just returned to Los Angeles after 21 years in St. Louis, and rookie quarterback Jared Goff looked like a bust as he visibly struggled, leading the Rams to just a 4-12 record. However, with the hiring of Sean McVay, the youngest coach in NFL history, left tackle Andrew Whitworth to protect Goff’s blind side, and running back Todd Gurley II improving his rushing numbers immensely, the Rams skyrocketed from a group of incompetent scrubs to one of the elite teams of the National Football League.
However, the 2017 Rams were still not at their peak. Although they looked revamped and ready to make a playoff run for the first time since 2004, they still had some blunders. Through 9 games last year, the Rams were 7-2. Their 2 losses came from Washington and Seattle, who both failed to make the playoffs. The Rams did secure a playoff berth, but were surprisingly knocked out by a tough Falcons defense.
This year, their powerful offense is still led by Goff along with Gurley and their concrete offensive line. Their 3,644 yards of total offense put them on track for over 7,000 by the end of the regular season, a feat which only five teams have topped before – 3 of whom went to the Super Bowl. Todd Gurley is still a phenomenal running back, and Jared Goff has been exceptional, throwing for over 300 yards per game and achieving a perfect passer rating in a victory over the Minnesota Vikings. Goff has of course been assisted by his top-tier receivers, Cooper Kupp, Brandin Cooks, and Robert Woods. All 3 are within the top 30 in the NFL for receiving yards, and have a combined 12 touchdowns in 10 weeks.
A facet of the offense which is not as glorified but are a cornerstone for the team are the linemen, whose job is to protect Goff so that he can make his jaw-dropping passes. Left tackle Andrew Whitworth is the oldest lineman in the league, but his ability to protect Goff’s blind side and open up holes for Gurley to demolish defenses makes him an incredibly valuable asset for the team.
The Rams’ success, although impressive, was not hard to predict. According to USA Today, they spent $237 million dollars in the offseason, most in the NFL. This may seem like an excessive amount, but the players they acquired look worth the money. For example, they signed cornerback Marcus Peters from the Chiefs, who returned an interception for a 50-yard touchdown in Week 1 against the Oakland Raiders. They signed wide receiver Brandin Cooks from the New England Patriots, who is on pace for over 1,500 receiving yards this year. The Rams also kept a key player from last year’s squad. Aaron Donald, defensive end and one of the overall best defensive players in the league, was given a six-year, $135 million dollar contract extension. Donald leads the NFL in sacks with 12.5, including a 4-sack performance against the San Francisco 49er’s QB C.J. Beathard.
With each week, the Los Angeles Rams are proving that they are Super Bowl contenders. Whether it’s Goff throwing bombs to Cooper Kupp for touchdowns, or Todd Gurley decimating defenses for a huge rush, this team is thrilling, impressive, and a source of pride for residents of the City of Angels.