Last season the Los Angeles Rams were the heir apparent to the New England Patriots. A year later the Rams are a hot mess after a 45-6 loss to the best team and player in the NFL in 2019. They have fallen so far so quickly and there are lessons to be learned, especially if you are the Arizona Cardinals.
1) The importance of the offensive line
Last season the Rams offensive line was at the top of the NFL and the entire unit stayed healthy. This season the Rams line has been a mess due to injury and age (in the case of Andrew Whitworth) and did not invest any picks on the offensive line in the first two rounds of the last four drafts. The Cardinals have their QB of the future now they just need to protect him as learn from the Indianapolis Colts in this area and not the Los Angeles Rams.
2) Hang on to your draft picks and build your depth
The last time the Rams had a first round pick they used it on Jared Goff and they won’t have another for the next two seasons after the acquisition of Jalen Ramsey. The Rams seemingly got too big for their britches and tried to win and it backfired with an abysmal and embarrassing offensive performance in Super Bowl 53. They went big on acquiring big names like Talib & Peters & Suh through free agency and trades and a year later all three guys are gone. The Cardinals need to stick to the plan and build through the draft and take full advantage of the rookie contracts those players come with.
3) Kyler Murray’s rookie contract is an asset
Use the next four years as your window to win. Kyler Murray is making less than a million dollars for the next three seasons before his fifth year option would call for a bump in salary. As we have learned from teams like the 49ers and Ravens this season things can change quickly. What the rookie contract allows the Cardinals to do is more options when it comes to filling holes on the roster. Before they pay Kyler Murray they can spend some of that money in service to Kyler Murray in order to make the team better and they can do that without selling off draft picks. We saw it this offseason with Jordan Hicks. The Cardinals defense hasn’t been good but Steve Keim was able to find a guy who leads the entire NFL in tackles be tied for 10th in interceptions.
How wild is it that we could be talking about the Rams finishing fourth in the NFC West next season? Hopefully the Cardinals brass is watching and learning.