To quote the legendary Bob Ryan “mea culpa, mea culpa, maxima mea culpa”, years ago I made a massive mistake and I’ve yet to formally apologize. See, unlike Arthur Fonzarelli or Dr. Greg House (see I’m hip), I can admit when I’m wrong. Back in the spring of 2017, I wrote almost excessively about how the Rams were Grade A morons for signing Robert Woods to a 5 year $35 million dollar deal.
When that deal hit my first two thoughts were “why Robert Woods?” and “why in God’s name would anyone give Robert Woods that much money?”. Now, he’s probably the best bargain in the league and while he hasn’t exactly turned into Antonio Brown, he’s a key cog in Sean McVay’s offense.
So why did it seem ridiculous to invest in Robert Woods? Well, when the Rams signed him, many, including me, thought it was to engender good faith with their new LA fans by bringing in a former Trojan. It certainly wasn’t because he lit it up in Buffalo. His four years in Buffalo netted 2,451 yards and 12 TDs. Plus, the biggest compliment people paid to him was that he was an excellent blocker which to me sounded like when people describe a blind date as having a great personality. It’s a backhanded compliment and my Rams pessimism was raging.
However, when looking at his lack of production in Buffalo I negated to look at the mitigating factors. He didn’t exactly have a competent quarterback throwing to him. He had a real murderer’s row in EJ Manuel, Josh Johnson, Kyle Orton, and Tyrod Taylor throwing to him at various points. While a change of scenery was probably the solution it still didn’t explain why the Rams would throw “big money” at him. And as Kevin Arnold would say “that’s when it hit me”, my anger (and if you can find my old pieces it was anger) really had nothing to do with Robert Woods.
The general theme of my work during the 2017 offseason was rooted in anger and bitterness. Seriously, I was a few steps away from writing angry Abe Simpson style letters to the president stating that there are too many states and he should get rid of two followed by declaring I was not a crackpot.
That whole offseason was one of radical change. Why did the Rams sign the offensive coordinator from Washington rather than Kyle Shanahan? Why did they pay big money to an aging offensive tackle from the Bengals who was past his prime? If the Eagles were able to get Alshon Jeffery for one year and $14 million why couldn’t the Rams have done that?
I, like many, didn’t see the whole picture. I believed Les Snead destroyed the team by trading a principal’s ransom in draft picks for Jared Goff. Goff’s rookie season obviously left a bad taste in everyone’s mouth. Everyone should’ve realized that Jeff Fisher‘s “Leatherheads” era offense and contempt for rookie quarterbacks was the root cause.
What clouded my judgment was the fact that the Rams were a bigger disaster than Woodstock 99 and the Fyre Festival combined. I’m generally an optimist but not for the Rams. Go back and look at my old tweets (wait, don’t) and you’ll see obsessive hatred towards Sam Bradford, Brian Schottenheimer, and Tavon Austin. It wasn’t healthy, to say the least.
Fast forward a few months, and it turns out there was a grand vision. Robert Woods made use of his heralded blocking by helping Todd Gurley become one of the best backs in the league and as a receiver, he was a perfect fit for what Sean McVay set out to do. He basically doubled his Buffalo production in half the time. He became a reliable target when Goff needed yards. Woods and Cooper Kupp became a formidable duo and what was once a deal I (AND OTHERS) scoffed at became a steal.
The Rams recognized that fact, and while Woods has three years left with cap hits of $6, $5.5, and $7.5 million, it’s not enough. They are giving him an extra $1 million this season and $2 million next year. He’ll be 30 when he becomes a free agent again and the Rams cap situation might be a lot murkier come 2021, so they showed him that he’s appreciated and will be taken care of when the time comes.
In the meantime, with the Rams showing him some respect, it’s time I do the same. After all, it was either that or double down on my bad takes like some two-bit Skip Bayless and devolve into the grumpy old fan I came to despise.
This isn’t performative by any means I’ve taken a lot of crap on my (hugely successful) podcast which you should all subscribe to, for having such a bad Robert Woods take. So this is my public apology to Mr. Woods, and while he’s not the reincarnation of the Torry Holt I demanded he become, he’s someone I’m happy to see on game day.