THOUSAND OAKS – Can the Rams win the Super Bowl again?
I say they can. They say, “Defend the what now?” Or put them under oath and it’ll be: “I do not recall.”
Because the first rule of the Super Bowl Champions Club is… you do not talk about your Super Bowl championship.
You don’t wear your ring around. Don’t rock your team’s championship merch. And most definitely, don’t mention it.
When the New England Patriots opened training camp in 2019 trying to become the first team to repeat as Super Bowl champs since they did it back in 2004-05, coach Bill Belichick basically rejected a question about it: “I’m thinking about trying to have a good day today.”
Kansas City coach Andy Reid stuck to the script the next year when he was asked about a flag going up to commemorate the Chiefs’ Super Bowl LIV win: “We’ve tried to focus the best we can on just going forward.”
Last fall, when reigning champion Tampa Bay Buccaneers reconvened with the target on their backs, Coach Bruce Arians said flatly: “It’s over. That’s last year.”
Assuredly, Rams coach Sean McVay got the memo.
“We’ve moved on,” he said again after practice Friday, which was like Monday to the Rams, because they kick off their season – and, shhh, their Super Bowl championship defense – against Buffalo on Thursday.
“It feels,” McVay added, “like it was a long time ago.”
Or as veteran linebacker Leonard Floyd estimated: “A million years ago.”
But for those of us who aren’t exercising selective amnesia, Feb. 13 wasn’t actually so long ago.
It will be just 207 days between the season opener and their 23-20 Super Bowl win on their home turf at SoFi Stadium. That victory, six years after the Rams relocated back to Southern California, cemented L.A. as NFL town again after it went 22 years without one of the league’s teams residing in the area.
On the field, it proved the old adage: Defense wins. Or, rather, defense – paired with a swashbuckling, big-moment QB like Matthew Stafford – wins a championship.
Twice as tall a task. Title winners will have played the most games the previous season and partied hardest afterward. Rosters never remain intact. Every game against them will be circled by opponents. And however optimistic oddsmakers’ predictions might be, technically they have the same one-in-32 odds as everyone else.
So, no, the Rams aren’t trying to tempt football fate.
But I can.
The Rams will do it. They’ll do it again.
Consider the connection between Stafford and Cooper Kupp with the vice tightening late in the Super Bowl. Kupp got the ball five times on the final drive, including hauling in that jaw-dropping no-look pass. You can trace that whole sequence to the 500 extra hours Stafford and Kupp spent getting in sync about exactly those sorts of plays.
This angle of Matthew Stafford’s no-look pass. 😮💨 pic.twitter.com/vwWRUsMekn
— Los Angeles Rams (@RamsNFL) February 14, 2022
Now think how crisp the line will be between them when they get a whole ’nother season to talk this stuff over.
Also, Aaron Donald. He’s baaack. At peace with his career perhaps, the all-time defensive tackle remains keen for on-field conflict. If you think the dude swinging two helmets in a joint preseason practice is going to allow any sort of let down on the way to title No. 2, you might better duck.
Not that the Rams’ defense will need stoking. Yes, they lost eight-time Pro Bowl linebacker Von Miller, who signed a more lucrative deal with the Buffalo Bills. That’s giving pundits and prognosticators pause when deciding whether to pick the Rams to repeat.
But Floyd – who said his ankles are 100% healthy after causing him so much pain last season – is fine with that. He knows his guys are hungry to prove what they can do without Miller.
“A whole lot of new faces gotta step up,” Floyd said Friday, while taking a breather from a post-practice weight session. “We’ve been doing a good job of training and putting ourselves in different situations to get ourselves ready, and I believe we’re ready for it.”
New faces, new year, new goal – even if it’s the same as last season’s.
After all, that’s the recipe the Patriots followed.
Christian Fauria, a tight end on the Patriots’ back-to-back title teams, recently recounted the scene when the Patriots showed back up for work after winning in 2004. He told ESPN that, on a white board, Belichick listed some recent Super Bowl champions and their results the following season, none of which included another title.
“He painted a really clear picture of how important it was to just let it go,” Fauria said. “How each year is independent of its own.”
So don’t tell the Rams, but they’re about to embark on a super season.
Seriously, though, don’t mention it to them, or it might mess it up.