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The Los Angeles Rams lost again on Sunday and that’s not a surprise because Sean McVay’s team is decimated by injuries and was playing perhaps the NFL’s best team in the Kansas City Chiefs.
But this 26-10 loss comes with markers that should worry the Rams and their fans. Because they add to the possibility McVay will be thinking about stepping away after the season — again.
This was the Rams’ eighth loss of the season. That is more losses than McVay has had in any of his five previous seasons with the franchise. That’s obviously not what he expected at the start of this season when the idea was to defend last year’s Super Bowl title.
That title defense is a distant memory now.
Rams Super Bowl Defense Is Over
The Rams are a team in the NFC West’s cellar with a 3-8 record. The season isn’t over for Los Angeles. But the idea of getting into the postseason is a fantasy.
“It’s one thing to give your heart and soul when you’re winning, but when you’re losing it is truly burdensome for guys like Sean,” a coach who has talked to McVay about his career decisions told OutKick in recent days. “I’m not telling you Sean is quitting because he’s losing. Truth is it might fire him up to come back and try to prove this year was a mirage.
“But he’s definitely going to do a lot of hard thinking about where he’s at after this season. I don’t blame him. Seasons like he’s having are just crushing to the spirit, man.”
McVay’s starting quarterback Matt Stafford is injured and the backup John Wolford also is injured. Top receiver Cooper Kupp is injured. and No. 2 receiver Allen Robinson needs season-ending surgery, as the coach announced after the game.
It’s also been rough because the offensive line has become a turnstile to the quarterback as McVay has been forced to use 11 different line combinations.
McVay Makes Best Of Bad Circumstance
The situation has become so dire McVay is having to satisfy himself by speaking of fleeting moments of good amid all the bad.
“We know there’s no moral victories but I’m proud of the way our guys competed,” McVay told reporters after his team’s fifth consecutive loss.
McVay spoke of “guys running hard,” as if that’s a big deal in professional football. He spoke of linemen straining on plays as if that’s an accomplishment rather than an activity.
“Not quite enough but things we can be able to learn from,” McVay said. “I am proud of the way those guys competed snap in and snap out and we’re going try to build on this one.”
That is, of course, an optimistic way to approach it. It’s also spin.
This is not:
Rams 250-pound linebacker Roger Carter ran into McVay on the sideline as he sped onto the field in the first half, sending the coach’s headset flying and leaving him with a swollen jaw the rest of the evening.
“It was a good shot, but I’m OK,” said McVay who suggested maybe his player should have more awareness running by the head coach. “I don’t think I broke my jaw so I’ll be fine.”
McVay To Ponder Rams’ Future
The thing is that is not the worst thing to happen for McVay this season. And the plan to fix all of 2022’s problems to make another run at it in 2023 is going to be challenging.
Because the Rams are bad and don’t seem to have many ways to reload anytime soon.
The Rams have been a team built largely on trades and free agency. That’s how general manager Les Snead built a champion. But that path comes with obvious potholes and the Rams have already stepped into a couple.
The Rams are approximately $5 million over the salary cap next year. Getting below the cap limit means the team will have to re-do some contracts and probably get rid of some under-performing players.
But doing that to an extent where Snead can simply restock the roster to playoff team levels? Difficult.
And the Rams don’t have the kind of draft picks to help right away, either. They don’t have a first round pick next season. Their next first-rounder will be in 2024.
Fact is the Rams only have six picks next season, four of those after the the fifth round.
None of that is a recipe for rebuilding quickly. It’s actually a recipe for another rough season.
All of this suggests McVay, who considered stepping away last offseason, will definitely be considering his options again.