Given that Aaron Donald damn near retired before this season, we could be looking at the abrupt end to Los Angeles Rams coach Sean McVay's tenure far sooner than anticipated.
It's too early to call with so much football to be played, but the Rams look like they may struggle to even make the playoffs in 2022. Then again, their losses to fall to 3-4 were two to San Francisco, one to Dallas and one to Buffalo in Week 1. Hardly a shameful cast of opponents to fall prey to.
Red flags are all over the place, though. A nagging right elbow issue isn't helping quarterback Matthew Stafford amid his age-34 season. All the punishment he took over the years in Detroit, combined with the paper-thin o-line he's playing behind this year, is threatening to squeeze his career shorter than most QBs his age.
With Cooper Kupp battling an ankle injury and trying to play through it, this Rams season could go off the rails fast. As Albert Breer also reported above, they took a wild, desperate swing by trying to trade two first-round picks to Carolina for pass-rusher Brian Burns.
Why that was deemed necessary is unclear. I know GM Les Snead is REALLY not about keeping first-round picks, considering the last first-rounder the Rams chose themselves was Jared Goff. Still, that seemed like such a strange, unnecessarily audacious move to make even by this organization's full-send standards.
Like...does Snead stick to his guns and keep making these insane transactions? Or is he going to hedge his bets a little bit, have more of an eye toward the future and brace for an inevitable McVay exit? MAYBE Snead figures he's gone once McVay steps down. Who knows? It's so fascinating. Based on that Brian Burns offer, feels like Snead isn't changing his philosophy any time soon.
What really needs to happen this coming offseason is reinforcements on the offensive line. If the Rams can't win at the line of scrimmage, they're kind of fucked no matter who's throwing and catching. They're only averaging 68.4 rushing yards per game, second-worst only to Tampa Bay. You can't not have a rushing attack and expect to thrive as an offense. WTF!?
Regarding the Fab Four situation and LA's core of players cited by Breer, it seems safe to say star cornerback Jalen Ramsey and Kupp will be playing at a high level for a long time. Cloudier are the futures of Donald and Stafford. Assuming Snead and McVay are on the same page about burning draft picks still, I'd mortgage all assets to overhaul the o-line and grab either another cornerback or pass-rusher.
The Rams just won the damn Super Bowl last postseason, yet their perpetual "mortgage the future" strategy may finally be catching up to them. Given the hyperactive NFL trade deadline, though, it seems like other franchises are trying to emulate their model instead of banking on a bunch of younger players to win them a championship.
As for McVay's purported timeline to retirement, I'd see him coaching two to three more seasons before taking an awesome, high-paying TV job. This guy is all football, all the time, and strikes me as someone who struggles to turn it off. I don't think he can until he gets a little distance between himself and the game. We're gonna have a Jon Gruden situation but on steroids, to the Nth power whenever McVay is presumably in the booth and annual coaching vacancies pop up.
Personally I don't want to see McVay stop what he's doing. His swift turnaround of the entire Rams' culture and offensive genius made him among the most impressive, hotshot coaches in NFL history. Most of them don't live up to the hype. With a Lombardi Trophy in tow at only age 36, McVay has basically secured an excellent legacy already. But I won't be able to stop thinking, "What if?" in the event McVay walks away from coaching before he hits his 40s.