The Los Angeles Rams are in the Super Bowl because of a number of aggressive and bold decisions and moves, especially the hire of head coach Sean McVay.
For many years, the NFL saw its teams become more conservative during the playoffs. This year, the Los Angeles Rams took an aggressive approach and it paid off with a Super Bowl berth. Below you’ll see the aggressive moves that ultimately led to the Rams chasing their first Super Bowl since the days of Kurt Warner and Dick Vermeil.
Hiring Sean McVay
When the Rams hired the then-30-year old Sean McVay to be their head coach after the 2016 season, this looked like an aggressive move considering his youth and lack of head coaching experience. In two years as Rams head coach, McVay has turned himself into one of the best offensive minds and the NFL is reacting by hiring members of his coaching tree. The Rams won 11 and 13 games in McVay’s first two seasons leading the team. McVay has also converted on all three four-down conversions during the playoffs. The Rams also went for a 57-yard field goal to secure an overtime victory over the Saints.
Johnny Hekker’s fake punt
In playoff games, some teams need jolts to get the momentum going. For the Rams, their first quarter of the NFC Championship Game included an interception, a 13-point deficit and zero explosive plays. The comeback started with a fake punt when punter Johnny Hekker’s 12-yard pass on fourth and five to cornerback Sam Shields not only gave the Rams a first down, but the drive ultimately led to a field goal and momentum. After Hekker’s pass, the Rams looked like an energized football team and outscored the Saints 26-10 en route to the win.
Trading up in the NFL Draft to get Jared Goff
Aggressiveness shows up when teams want to move up in the NFL Draft, especially when drafting a franchise quarterback. When the Rams moved to Los Angeles in 2016, the team was coming off a 7-9 season under Jeff Fisher and Nick Foles led the team with 2,052 passing yards. Despite originally having the No. 15 pick, the Rams traded with the Tennessee Titans and took quarterback Jared Goff with the No. 1 pick in the 2016 NFL Draft. With McVay as his coach, Goff has thrown for 8,492 yards and 60 touchdowns. In a game with a loud, raucous crowd and Saints quarterback Drew Brees opposing him, Goff responded with 297 passing yards, but his six-yard pass to Tyler Higbee also put Zuerlein in range for the game-winning field goal.
Trades, trades, and more trades
For the Rams, trades have become important to building their championship roster. After getting Goff, L.A. continuing its overhaul, acquiring receiver Sammy Watkins from the Buffalo Bills. Despite losing Watkins, the Rams continued making moves in bold trades for cornerbacks Marcus Peters and Aqib Talib and receiver Brandin Cooks. At the trade deadline, the Rams traded for yet another former first round pick, acquiring former No. 3 pick Dante Fowler, Jr. from the Jacksonville Jaguars. It was Fowler who pressured Brees on the interception he threw in overtime.
Making a splash in free agency
Trades were not the only avenue the Rams used to build a roster. The Rams also relied on free agency to fill holes on the roster. The biggest splash came with the signing of former All-Pro defensive tackle, Ndamukong Suh, who picked up 1.5 sacks against the Saints. When running Todd Gurley missed the last two weeks of the regular season with a knee injury, the Rams signed C.J. Anderson off the street and he responded with three consecutive 100-yard rushing days and four touchdowns, including leading the team in rushing after Gurley was limited vs. the Saints.