Not many people may have seen it coming, but the Los Angeles Rams are 3-1 and they are leading the NFC West. The funny thing is they were actually 3-1 last year too and were tied for the division lead with the Seahawks. Due to how they went 1-11 afterwards, that fast start was quickly forgotten. But here they are again at 3-1. And how I feel about that compared to last year couldn’t be any more different.
When the Rams started 3-1 last year, I was actually a little furious about it. This was a team that in my mind had no right to be 3-1, and they proved it by how they played the rest of the season. Their starting QB was Case Keenum, they had no WR’s except for Kenny Britt, and Todd Gurley was looking to be the next Trent Richardson at time. Their defense was up and down. Aside from their usual oddball beating of the Seahawks, they were only 3-1 because of a peculiar bonehead play from Jameis Winston one game, and Carson Palmer getting injured with 2 minutes to go in another one.
This year, I’m actually enjoying watching the Rams play thus far. Second year QB Jared Goff looks much improved. Last year when he finally got to start, his team around him was so bad that we couldn’t even really tell if he was decent or not. And now that he does have a good team around him, he looks pretty good with 7 TD passes and 1 INT through four games. And he has an arsenal of weapons with Sammy Watkins, rookie Cooper Kupp and even Robert Woods of all things. Todd Gurley looks much better now too, and is getting more involved in the receiving game as well. The offense as a unit looks stellar.
The improvement on offense may not be too much of a surprise given that the new head coach is Sean McVay, the former Redskins o-coordinator, who helped create one of the best offenses in the league in 2015 and 2016. But given that it’s his first head coaching gig and he’s only 31, it’s still a surprise to see him turning out this well already. But it might also help that he has Wade Phillips as his defensive coordinator, who has created many a good defense.
So it’s pretty clear that the Rams are a dramatically improved team over last year. Even a playoff contender. But are they the team to beat in the NFC West? Some might have a hard time believing such a thing. But I’m leaning towards yes. While the Seahawks always seem to get things going down the stretch, they still have offensive line and running back problems (especially with Chris Carson out for the season now). They’re currently sitting at 2-2, so the Rams have the early lead on the division, and they might just hold it. These do not look to be the same Rams we’ve watched the last few years. They may not be the Greatest Show on Turf, but it is possible we could be witnessing the beginning of a new era for the team.