With the Super Bowl 56 fast approaching, I’ve been putting in as much research possible to ensure my Gambling Corner predictions lead my loyal followers to big money. Those predictions will come later, though. For now, I wanting to dive into something I found rather interesting while looking back at the last Rams team to make the Super Bowl. Keep in mind, this was just a few years ago, when the Rams lost 13-3 to the New England Patriots in Super Bowl 53 (I know Roman Numerals looks cool but I never really learned them. Surely there are people in the same boat as me, so enjoy regular numbers beside “Super Bowl” in my writing).
When you think back to that team, you’d expect them to be a similar squad to the current Rams team. After all, it’s only been a few years, and they’re led by the same head coach, Sean McVay. Let’s go through the rosters, though, to show just how much has change and how much credit McVay and general manager Les Snead deserve. Let’s start with the offense.
Rams Super Bowl Offenses
|Super Bowl 53||Super Bowl 56|
|Jared Goff||Matthew Stafford|
|Todd Gurley||Cam Akers|
|CJ Anderson||Sony Michel|
|Brandin Cooks||Cooper Kupp|
|Robert Woods||Odell Beckham Jr|
|Josh Reynolds||Van Jefferson|
|Tyler Higbee||Tyler Higbee|
|Gerald Everett||Kendall Blanton|
|Andrew Whitworth||Andrew Whitworth|
|Rodger Saffold||David Edwards|
|John Sullivan||Brian Allen|
|Austin Blythe||Austin Corbett|
|Rob Havenstein||Rob Havenstein|
I will note that Cooper Kupp and Robert Woods were on both teams. Kupp was hurt partway through the Rams run a few years ago, while Woods was hurt partway through this season. Also, Higbee has officially been ruled out for the upcoming Super Bowl. That leaves just two key offensive players that will have played in both games- Whitworth and Havenstein. Amazingly, the defense has even fewer returning players.
Rams Super Bowl Defenses
Here is the comparison of the key defensive players from the two Super Bowls:
|Super Bowl 53||Super Bowl 56|
|Michael Brockers||A’Shawn Robinson|
|Ndamukong Suh||Greg Gaines|
|Aaron Donald||Aaron Donald|
|Samson Ebukam||Von Miller|
|Dante Fowler||Leonard Floyd|
|John Franklin-Myers||Ogbonnia Okoronkwo|
|Cory Littleton||Ernest Jones|
|Mark Barron||Troy Reeder|
|Marcus Peters||Jalen Ramsey|
|Aqib Talib||Darious Williams|
|Nickell Robey-Coleman||David Long Jr.|
|John Johnson||Eric Weddle|
|Lamarcus Joyner||Nick Scott|
Taylor Rapp and Jordan Fuller were key contributors to current Rams team, but both have missed the entire playoffs because of injuries. It does sound like Rapp will play in the Super Bowl, but he was still in college during the Rams last Super Bowl run. Incredibly, only Aaron Donald remains as a key contributor in the two runs. It doesn’t end there.
Additional Rams Changes
Their kicker in the last Super Bowl was Greg Zuerlein. Now, it’s Matt Gay. Their main return guy was JoJo Natson. Now, it’s Brandon Powell. Their defensive coordinator was Wade Phillips. Now, it’s Raheem Morris. Zac Taylor was actually part of their coaching staff back then. Now, he’s head coach of the Bengals (one of many coaches to be plucked from Sean McVay’s staff in the last few years). Here’s one more returning player, though: Johnny Hekker, the punter.
How the Rams Made it Work
The brilliance of Les Snead and Sean McVay cannot be overstated. They’ve been able to put together two vastly different Super Bowl rosters just a few years apart. They have an understanding that elite talent trumps all. Sure, at times it hasn’t worked out for them- they handed Todd Gurley a massive contract that didn’t age well, and Brandin Cooks and Jared Goff were both traded before the end of their big contracts. Look at some of the other big contracts, though: Aaron Donald, Jalen Ramsey, Cooper Kupp, and Matthew Stafford are a core four that would leave every other team in the league jealous. Also, there’s this: the last time the Rams picked in the 1st round was in 2016, before McVay arrived. Snead and McVay’s aggression in acquiring big time talents, like Ramsey and Stafford, has paid off in a massive way. It’s not just those guys, either. Dante Fowler, Marcus Peters, Brandin Cooks, Aqib Talib, and Von Miller were also key players picked up in trades by the Rams. With a winning culture, the Rams are also a prefered destination for veterans looking to win, as was the case with both Ndamukong Suh and Odell Beckham Jr joining the Rams under Snead and McVay.
It’s hard to know what will become of the Rams in the next few years; football’s an unpredictable sport. That’s why it’s so important for them to win the big one this coming Sunday. What does seem likely, is that McVay and Snead will continue to do things their way- aggressively, and in the pursuit of greatness. It would be cool to have a first round pick at some point, though.