Though this season brought with it a culture-changing quarterback who inoculated the fan base from despair, there is no guarantee that the Bengals will return to the Super Bowl — not while playing in the same conference as Mahomes, Josh Allen, Justin Herbert and Lamar Jackson — anytime soon.
In constructing this championship roster alongside McVay, Snead heeded an adage voiced by a mentor, Jim Collins, who wrote the management manual “Good to Great: Why Some Companies Make The Leap and Others Don’t.” Fire bullets, then cannonballs, Collins wrote.
Under Snead, the Rams take a series of smaller risks before, proven right, marshaling resources into bigger moves, like acquiring defensive back Jalen Ramsey in 2019, Stafford in 2021 and the pass rusher Von Miller at midseason.
“Coming to the Super Bowl is one thing but winning it is addictive,” said Miller, who won with Denver six years ago. “This is really an addictive feeling.”
The Rams’ philosophy is subject to the misconception that the team mortgages its future for annual contention. Even though it hasn’t picked in the first round of the last five drafts, the Rams have selected more players since 2017 than every team but the Minnesota Vikings, according to Stathead. One of Snead’s trusted colleagues, the Rams consultant J.W. Jordan, kept a photo in his office of Malcolm Butler — the undrafted New England cornerback whose goal-line interception secured a Patriots title against the Seattle Seahawks — as a reminder of the full might of the roster.
The Rams rely on their scouts to excavate late-round picks and their staff to develop them. Players like Cam Akers, Van Jefferson, Jordan Fuller — and, especially, Kupp, the third-rounder turned offensive player of the year, who caught the most famous touchdown in Los Angeles Rams history.
The touchdown that made them right. The touchdown that made them all champions.