The Patriots and Rams are the final teams standing after Championship Sunday. Whether or not the Rams deserve to be here doesn’t matter, because, on February 3rd, they’ll be playing for their first Lombardi Trophy since 1999 with the Greatest Show on Turf. Both teams won away games in hostile environments on Sunday, but the Patriots are much more experienced. The way these organizations built their teams are complete opposites but they both work.
The Pats dynasty has lasted since 2001, and they’ve won 10 games every season barring 2002. About the only downside to such consistency is that it becomes harder and harder to get talented players through the draft. However, since 2008 the Patriots have nailed at least one good starter that is still on the team (except for 2017, when they traded draft picks for established players such as Brandin Cooks). Here is their draft picks under Belichick that are still a big part of the team.
It is amazing to look at how many late round picks they’ve turned into quality starters on a Super Bowl team. Besides Tom Brady obviously, the two best steals from this list are Julian Edelman and James White. Edelman is the go-to receiver in the 4th quarter, with his career highlight being that insane catch against Atlanta in the 4th quarter. James White has also had a very underrated career, as he is more of a receiver than a true running back. He presents so many matchup problems as defenses tend to put a slower linebacker on him throughout the game, and he arguably should’ve been the MVP in Super Bowl LI. The pick of Sony Michel has been a perfect fit for a team transitioning from pass heavy to very balanced. The Pats also do a great job finding undrafted free agents and turning them into quality players. Some of their best finds include David Andrews, Ryan Allen, JC Jackson, and former Super Bowl hero, Malcolm Butler.
The Rams are built differently, through good drafting and big free agency signings. They had a decade long run of no playoff appearances before moving to LA. Here are their most important draft picks since 2012. (Their 2018 1st rounder was used to trade for Brandin Cooks). They also traded two 1st round picks, two 2nd round picks, and two 3rd round picks to move up to pick Jared Goff in 2016.
The Rams have enjoyed a very strong season from their 2017 draft class, picking up impact players on days 2 and 3 of the draft. They also signed linebacker Cory Littleton in 2016 and he’s turned into a main focal point of the Rams defense. Getting Greg Zuerline at 171st in 2012 is a huge steal, considering that the Buccanneers traded up in the 2nd round a couple of years ago to pick Robert Aguayo, a kicker who is an all-time bust at his position. Now, they have a guy who can make 57-yard field goals with ease. These Rams were put together through each part of team building, but by signing big name free agents, they’ve put themselves in a win now situation. Once Jared Goff gets his contract extension, things could get ugly for the Rams, as they already made Todd Gurley and Aaron Donald the highest paid players at their positions last summer.
The Patriots seem to always nail trades for under the radar players that they turn into superstars. One of their most important defensive players is Kyle Van Noy, who was traded to New England halfway through the 2016 season from Detroit. Van Noy is now the starting LB and has a great nose for the ball, recording two sacks on Patrick Mahomes last week.
The Rams have seemingly completely transformed the franchise’s image since relocating from St Louis. Now that they are no longer under the darkness that was Jeff Fisher, they are eager to pursue big players. They were big spenders in free agency, but they’ve also made trades to improve the defense. I think the midseason trade for Dante Fowler from Jacksonville has been much better than the Marcus Peters trade, mainly because Peters is overrated and a bad locker room guy and Fowler came up huge in the win over the Saints. On the Josh Johnson overtime interception, he completely altered the pass by hitting Brees as he threw. Even though his stats dropped off from Jacksonville to LA, I think the Rams got a steal in giving up a 3rd round pick for someone who was a top 3 pick just 3 seasons ago.
One of the biggest advantages about playing in Los Angeles is free agency because when you have an owner that wants to spend on good players, good players will normally take the chance to play in LA rather than in St Louis. This offseason the Rams brought in big defensive players in hope of becoming contenders.
Ndamukong Suh– This signing helped form one of the best defensive lines in football, with Aaron Donald and Michael Brockers forming a monster pass rush.
Aqib Talib- Talib can still shutdown top 10 receivers, as he held Michael Thomas to only 4 catches for 36 yards. When Talib was out in week 9, the Rams let Thomas go for over 200 yards and a touchdown on 12 catches.
C.J Anderson- He was signed towards the end of this season to help take pressure off of Gurley, and since his signing, he has been better than Gurley. McVay benched Gurley after 2 dropped passes in the NFC Championship game in favor of Anderson, and in total Anderson has run for 466 yards and 4 touchdowns. Anderson should be offered a starting job this offseason.
The Patriots always seem to target players not reaching their full potential in free agency, such as Rex Burkhead and Chris Hogan. They signed Jason McCourty to make his twin, Devin, happy with the team. One of the best signings from the dynasty was in 2017, when on the first day on free agency they gave Stephon Gilmore $65M over 5 seasons. It has worked out great for both sides, as Gilmore escaped forever mediocrity while New England has gotten the best-graded cornerback since the signing.
Overall, these are the two best run teams in football, and that’s why they’re still alive. Both offenses are very hard to stop, and both teams are coached by masterminds who stay one step ahead of everybody else.
Thanks for reading! If you enjoyed, be sure to pick up a Couch Report Hoodie from the shop!