Are the Rams the worst team in the NFC West?

The Los Angeles Rams have gone from first to worst in two years.

Sean McVay was the NFL’s newest coaching sensation. Jared Goff was its next great quarterback. The Los Angeles Rams’ defense under Wade Phillips looked unstoppable.

The 2018 Rams were a sight to behold until the Super Bowl, when their electrifying offense was embarrassed by Bill Belichick’s well-oiled defense. Goff looked scared in the pocket and frequently missed – in every sense of the word – open wide receivers, namely top target Brandin Cooks.

Perhaps the New England Patriots exposed the Rams offense to every other team in the league, because after signing a lucrative contract extension, Goff was a train wreck in 2019. Likened to Los Angeles’ version of Mitchell Trubisky, Goff threw 16 interceptions as the Rams tumbled to a 9-7 record.

Granted, they had a winning record and did so in the NFL’s toughest division. But that should come as no solace to the Rams organization, as the NFC West has only gotten more difficult. The Arizona Cardinals fleeced the Houston Texans to nab superstar wideout DeAndre Hopkins for Kyler Murray, who already looks like a much better young quarterback than Goff.

The Rams, meanwhile, had a disastrous offseason. In two years, Goff’s league-best offensive line has become a weakness, and it shows. Goff looks legitimately spooked in the pocket; it’s like watching a Derek Carr 2.0 situation on the west coast.

Los Angeles still has favorite targets Robert Woods and Cooper Kupp, but superstar skill players Todd Gurley and Cooks are gone. If Goff was buoyed by his supporting cast in the 2018 NFC championship-winning season, then the better half of his cast is now gone, replaced with precious little.

Though the Cardinals still have work to do and plenty to prove in both Murray’s and Kliff Kingsbury’s sophomore seasons in the NFL, the Rams seem to have their backs further up against the wall despite their past success.

As the 2020 season approaches, the Rams are starting to look increasingly like one-hit wonders, already forced to retool their entire roster after it seemed like they were entering their peak. Goff is no longer in the conversation as the next great quarterback; there are no doubts about his standing as a franchise quarterback, even if he’s paid more richly than McVay’s last “protege” Kirk Cousins.

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And McVay no longer seems like a genius. The 2020 season could be the defining year for his reputation in the league.

Yet as Goff and McVay receive the brunt of the criticism, it’s fair to wonder where general manager Les Snead, who was a perennial loser before McVay joined the organization, stands and why his methods haven’t been questioned more.

And if the Rams really do finish as the NFC West’s worst team, he could be the one shown the door after another poor offseason.

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