The Los Angeles Rams are struggling, to put it nicely. There is no shortage of expressions to encapsulate the season the 2022 Super Bowl winners are currently experiencing. "Oh how the mighty have fallen" may be the first to spring to mind, and they've certainly fallen.
It's been less than 300 days since Los Angelenos and worldwide Rams fans were celebrating a close victory against Burrow's Bengals. You'd never know it if you missed last year's NFL season and started watching the Rams this year. The Los Angeles 2022 Super Bowl champs are edging closer to an infamous statistic: worst season of a Super Bowl defender -- ever. Is this the worst Super Bowl Hangover of all-time?
A History of the Super Bowl Hangover
The dreaded Super Bowl Hangover, what does it mean and whose footsteps are the Rams following? We're all familiar with a hangover. Many of you reading this may have even called out sick from work once or twice thanks to too many shots at your post-work vent session at the local bar, or the Monday following your team hoisting the Lombardi. When a team experiences a Super Bowl Hangover it's a little bit different.
For teams, the infamous Super Bowl Hangover is a term coined for a Super Bowl contender's follow-up season falling short, and no, that doesn't mean failing to run it back -- only seven of the league's 32 teams have accomplished the illustrious back-to-back Super Bowl win. The "Super Bowl Hangover" description was sparked for teams who missed the playoffs locked with losing records following their Super Bowl season appearances.
There are only seven championship defending teams who backslid from Lombardi celebrations to infamous losing seasons, and the Rams will be joining their ranks:
- The 1968 Packers (6-7-1) fell apart after legendary coach Vince Lombardi retired.
- The 1981 Raiders (7-9).
- The 1982 49ers (3-6) amid a strike-shortened season.
- The 1987 Giants (6-9).
- Washington (7-9) in 1988.
- The 1999 Broncos (6-10) lost their backbone after iconic quarterback John Elway retired.
- Tampa Bay (7-9) in 2003.
Rams on Track to Be Worst Former Super Bowl Champs
The Los Angeles Rams host the struggling Raiders in Week 14. If they fall to Las Vegas they will tie former Super Bowl XXXII first time champs, Denver Broncos, for the most losses ever after a Lombardi-hoisting season.
The 3-9 Rams have been on an abysmal losing streak since their Week 7 bye. They haven't won a game since October and are in the midst of a six-game losing streak -- the worst losing run by a former Super Bowl champ in NFL history. Two more losses will solidify the Rams as the losing-est reigning champions the league has ever seen. Looking at the Rams upcoming schedule it seems certain the stumbling SoCal team will get handed at least two more L's. It's just been one of those seasons for Los Angeles -- if it can go wrong, it will.
Injuries, Injuries, Injuries -- Including Coach Sean McVay
Rams players may be wondering if someone is hiding out with a bucket of voodoo dolls, sticking pins into every single one donning a Rams jersey. Most teams don't like using injuries as an excuse for losing, but in Los Angeles, it's just the facts. Their injury report reads like a who's who list for an elite SoCal NFL soirée. It's like Stefon from SNL is doing a bit.
Los Angeles' hottest new club is Sidelined. It's got everything: star quarterback Matthew Stafford's spinal cord contusion, irreplaceable top target Cooper Kupp's ankle surgery, No. 2 receiver Allen Robinson's season ending foot, all-pro defensive tackle Aaron Donald's beaten-up ankle, linebacker Terrell Lewis's back, cornerbacks David Long Jr. and Troy Hill's questionable groins, linebacker Travin Howard's less-than-optimal hip, wide receiver Lance McCutcheon's beaten shoulder, and wide receiver Brandon Powell's weakened immune system.
All joking aside, the injury-cursed Rams keep getting hit with bad luck. Even Coach Sean McVay can't escape the bad juju. The Rams commander took a nasty hit to the jaw in Week 12 from one of his own players as he ran from the sideline to take the field. The hits truly just keep coming.
Unexpected Plot Twist
If the Rams season was a TV series it would surely be written by Shonda Rhimes or the "Game Of Thrones" writing room because neither cares a lick about gut-punching their viewers with wildly painful plot lines. Fans were left wondering "but, why?" when news broke of the Los Angeles Rams reality show plot twist. It feels a little late in the action to introduce a new main character. With only five episodes left this season it's a wee bit baffling. Yet here we are, welcoming Baker Mayfield to Los Angeles.
The controversial quarterback is on his second team this season, and while other teams might not see the opportunity to improve with Mayfield at the helm, the Rams jumped at the chance. Sure, if Baker is 100% healthy he could be an impactful addition. But is he 100% healthy and are the Rams expecting their newest QB1 to adapt immediately to the offensive scheme in Los Angeles? That's asking a lot for a late season addition.
"When you have a player of his caliber come available and you look at just the circumstances and situations surrounding our quarterback room, we felt like it was the right move for us," head coach McVay told reporters Wednesday.
"It was a guy that I've always respected his game, like a lot of things that he brings to the table. I've known him a little bit, just going back to even when we rode out to the combine together; when he was training in L.A., we sat next to each other on the Southwest flight, the only direct flight from LAX to Indianapolis."
When asked about the likelihood of seeing Mayfield on the field for Thursday Night Football on Prime, McVay said, "As far as his status for tomorrow, we're working through that kind of stuff. We just finished up. I mean, he literally just got here last night. Incredibly sharp guy. It was good to be able to be around him. Really, we feel like it upgraded our quarterback room, gives us a chance to have him in the building, and we'll see how it goes, and we'll take it a day at a time."
The circumstances in Los Angeles require extreme measures, and asking a new quarterback to assimilate at warp speed definitely seems challenging. They're looking for a quick fix hangover cure and Rams head coach knows what he's asking.
"It would be unprecedented from my experiences -- because of everything that a quarterback is asked to do to -- bring him in such a short period of time and have him go out there, but I do think that he'd be capable of it if we asked," McVay said. "We'll take that really one day at a time until tomorrow."
Thursday is guaranteed to be a weird and wild moment for the Rams and the legacy they'll write for their post Super Bowl winning season. I don't expect Baker Mayfield to be some magical answer to their historic losing season. Is this the Rams post hangover moment, you know the one, when you promise you'll never drink again and barter with the universe to make the pain stop? It may be too late to stop the losing, but we can't look away. All we can do is wait for the hangover to pass and the Los Angeles Rams miserable season to finish.
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