NFL: defending champions, the Rams are ready to take up the challenge a second time in 2023

LOS ANGELES — Sean McVay has become the youngest head coach in modern National Football League history, in part because he’s a great communicator and teacher who always seems to know what to say.

McVay is now the youngest head coach in NFL history to win a Super Bowl, and he has already begun to list his Los Angeles Rams players the challenges ahead of the next season, in terms clear and concise.

« Let’s move on, » McVay said, when asked to deliver his message to the defending champions.

“Let’s not minimize the fact that the last year has been fantastic, but it will have nothing to do with this year. »

It’s a familiar mindset for champions trying to repeat the greatest achievement of their professional lives. But McVay excels in the art of placing his players in the ideal psychological context for them to be successful. Also, he believes that the Rams will not suffer any negative consequences from their achievement last February and that they will have a clear vision towards February 2023.

« We’re still hungry, even though we just won, » linebacker Justin Hollins said. “Everyone wants (another championship). This is football heaven. We want to stay in football paradise. Do you understand what I’m trying to say? »

After five seasons with winning records, four playoff berths, three National Conference West titles, two Super Bowl appearances and a championship, the Rams know they can trust McVay. His team won nine out of 10 games down the stretch last season, until the spectacular final played in his castle.

The challenge that awaits the Rams this season seems even more important, but the California formation gives the impression of being able to handle it.

“We are aware that the targets are now behind us,” illustrated center Brian Allen. “We’re not chasing the team that won the year before. We know we’re going to have a tough schedule this year, and all of our opponents are going to be at their best against us. Come on. »

So, the mood is in place for the Rams to become the first team in 18 years in the NFL to win the Super Bowl in two consecutive seasons. And the talent in place seems sufficient too.

The cornerstones of the champion team are almost all there, from Matthew Stafford and Cooper Kupp to Aaron Donald and Jalen Ramsey.

Of course, there have been changes. Acquired mid-season, linebacker Von Miller tapped into the free agent market, as did cornerback Darious Williams and right guard Austin Corbett.

Left tackle Andrew Whitworth retired after spending the last five years of a glorious 16-season career at the heart of McVay’s project.

What remains is execution, health and luck. The Rams excelled in all three areas last year, and they hope all three will be just as abundant next season.

« Just because we achieved something last year doesn’t mean it’s going to happen this year, » Stafford noted.

« We’re going to have to go out there and earn it. Wondering what opportunities you are ready to deserve? It comes with sacrifice, hard work and being a really good teammate. »

In the free agent market, the Rams opted for quality over quantity, signing receiver Allen Robinson and linebacker Bobby Wagner to contracts.

Returning to Southern California after 10 years in Seattle, Wagner will be the defensive captain and a major contributor to a position the Rams have traditionally overlooked in their organizational strategy.

Robinson seems destined for a spectacular season after eight campaigns in Jacksonville and Chicago. The burly wide receiver has never played with a quarterback of Stafford’s caliber and the Rams will need a productive Robinson after trading Robert Woods.

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