It’s crazy to think that it’s already been a year, but with another Super Bowl on the horizon, let’s look back on the LA Rams‘ magical 2021-22 run.
The Rams’ 2021 season was filled with peaks and valleys with the team even going winless in the month of November. They turned it on when it mattered most though, clinching the NFC West division title and riding that momentum all the way to a Super Bowl victory over the Cincinnati Bengals at SoFi Stadium.
L.A.’s strategy for getting there is well-documented. Everyone knows the phrase “eff them picks” by now and the Rams proved that is a strategy that can work. The front office made a number of different moves over the prior few years to get in that position, trading a ton of draft picks for proven commodities.
Considering the roster was as top-heavy as it was, choosing the five most valuable players from that Super Bowl team is no easy task although I’m going to give it a try.
The No. 1 spot could have gone to a number of different players, but I struggle to give it to anyone other than quarterback Matthew Stafford.
Winning a Super Bowl was the reason the Rams decided to trade for Stafford two years ago. The team had made the playoffs a number of times and even the Super Bowl once with Jared Goff at quarterback, but Sean McVay ultimately felt he needed an upgrade at the most important position in sports to get over the hump, and he wound up being right.
Although Stafford had a lot of interceptions in the regular and postseasons, there’s also no denying that the Rams’ offense was as great as it was because of him. He made big throw after big throw in all of the biggest spots.
He led the league in fourth-quarter passer rating, and that late-game greatness was again on display in the postseason when he led the Rams on game-winning drives against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, San Francisco 49ers and Bengals.
Stafford wouldn’t have led those drives without his top receiving option though and that, of course, was Cooper Kupp.
Kupp turned in a career season for the Rams, winning the triple crown with 145 receptions for 1,947 yards and 16 touchdowns. He followed that up with 33 receptions for 478 yards and six touchdowns in four postseason games, taking home Super Bowl MVP honors.
On all of those game-winning drives that Stafford led, Kupp was on the receiving end of most of the big plays. He very easily could be No. 1 on this list, but No. 2 isn’t so bad either, especially when you’re ahead of the guy that’s next…
We have truly run out of words to describe Aaron Donald and what he has done in his time with the Rams. In nine seasons, he has been named to nine Pro Bowls and seven All-Pro teams.
While the 2021 season wasn’t his best, it was still elite with a career-high 84 tackles, 12.5 sacks, four forced fumbles, four pass deflections and 19 tackles for loss.
Similar to Kupp, Donald was at his best in the postseason when he had 3.5 sacks, four tackles for loss and nine quarterback hits in four games. Included in that are the game-winning pressures in both the NFC Championship Game and Super Bowl.
While Stafford and Kupp were instrumental in leading game-winning drives for the offense, the defense still needed to come up big to seal it on both occasions and it was Donald who got the job done.
If Donald was Batman on the Rams’ defense though, then Jalen Ramsey was Robin.
While the 2021 season may not have been Donald’s very best, it arguably was for Ramsey as he was named First Team All-Pro for the third time, tying a career-best with four interceptions and being Pro Football Focus’ highest graded corner.
If it were not for the three gentlemen ahead of him being as great and generational as they were in the postseason, Ramsey very well could have been No. 1 on this list. His play in the playoffs wasn’t his best, and he’d be the first to admit that, but Ramsey was still a lockdown corner all year while moving around the field in the “Star” position.
Staying on the defensive side of the ball, the Rams’ big trade deadline addition Von Miller comes in at No. 5.
It took Miller a little while to get going after being acquired by L.A., but once he did he was an absolute game-wrecker. In Miller’s final eight games in the regular and postseason, he had nine sacks and 14 tackles for loss. That is ridiculous production and a lot of it came in the fourth quarter when games were close.
Just missed the top five: Andrew Whitworth, Odell Beckham Jr., Brian Allen, Matt Gay