St. Louis Rams Vs Los Angeles Rams
In order to quantify the greatness of a rock and roll band, Chuck Klosterman created VORM. Value Over Replacement Musician. An idea he ripped off from the world of baseball analytics, Value Over Replacement Player. In Klosterman’s formula, the greatness of a band is rated on a 100 point scale based on six different criteria.
At the LAFB Network, we are ripping off Klosterman’s ripoff to create VORNFLF. Value Over Replacement NFL Franchise. VORNFLF or VORF allows us to compare two different NFL franchises on a level playing field. Franchises are judged on six different criteria with a maximum score of 100. Some criteria can result in a negative score. For instance, in the category of Star Players, the Cleveland Browns would be awarded 25 points for Jim Brown and would score -10 in Football Acumen for drafting Johnny Manziel for a combined score of 15 for those criteria.
The criteria* are as follows;
- Playoff Success – 25 Point max: Playoff success is one of the obvious measuring sticks of franchise success. It would be impossible to argue that, for instance, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers would be considered more successful than the Pittsburgh Steelers.
- Stars Players – 25 Point max: It would be hard to imagine certain franchises to be successful without certain star players. i.e. San Francisco and Montana, Denver and John Elway, Seattle and Russell Wilson, etc..**
- Fan Base – 20 Point max: A team’s fans are the franchise. Fans can make them or break them.
- Coaches – (+/-) 15 Points: 2010 49ers – Mike Singletary 5-10, 2011 49ers – Jim Harbaugh 13-3.
- Football Acumen – (+/-) 10 points: Some franchises are smart, some franchises are dumb.
- Intangibles*** – (+/-) 5 points: You know it when you see it.
While VORNFLF was created to compare different franchises, in this case, it will be used to compare the same franchise, but in two different locations; the St. Louis Rams Vs the Los Angeles Rams. Get it? Let’s go.
*All criteria are subject to the assessor’s opinions, personal bias’ and indigestion.
** Star Players won’t be limited to quarterbacks, but you know.
***Intangibles are 100% biased and completely opinions.
LA Rams: 53 seasons, 23 playoff appearances, 14 wins/ 20 losses, 0-2 in Super Bowls
The biggest hit against the LA Rams is that they regularly lose when it means the most. Their playoff losses include two Super Bowls, two NFL Championships, and 6 NFC Championships. In 2018, they were considered to be one of the most electric offenses in NFL history and only managed to put up three points in Super Bowl LIII. That’s a world-class choke.
They, also, choked in Super Bowl XIV against the Pittsburgh Steelers. Heading into the 4th quarter the Rams were up 19-17. The Rams famed defense stifled Terry Bradshaw in the first three quarters, holding him to one touchdown and intercepting 3 passes. In the 4th quarter, the defense broke. Bradshaw threw for two long passes to John Stallworth that resulted in touchdowns. One, a 73-yard touchdown pass, and later a 45-yard pass putting the Steelers deep in the Rams territory. Those two touchdowns sealed the victory for Pittsburgh, 31-19.
All that said, the LA Rams have made the playoffs an impressive 43.4% of seasons played. From 1973-1989, they made the playoffs 14 out of the 17 years, winning the division 8 times. They have never had a playoff drought of more than 10 years. But, without a championship in LA since 1951, it is hard to rate the LA Rams among the elite NFL Franchises.
Playoff Success Score: 17
STL Rams: 21 seasons, 5 playoff appearances, 6 wins/ 4 losses, 1-1 in Super Bowls
The STL Rams have the franchise’s only Super Bowl victory. Which is huge! It makes the rest of their tenure in Missouri look much better. In reality, the STL Rams had a great short-lived run and left their mark on future offenses.
The “Greatest Show On Turf” was the precursor to today’s air raid offenses. Kurt Warner and Co. were derailed in their second Super Bowl appearance by some 6th-round back-up quarterback and some grumpy head coach. The Rams were favored by 14 points in that Super Bowl.
All in all, they only won their division three times, going to the playoffs 23.8% of the time in 21 seasons. The rest was pretty dismal. Their heyday ended in 2004 and they didn’t post a winning season after that. That’s 11 straight seasons of near irrelevance.
Playoff Success Score: 14
LA Rams: Hall of Famers
This list is impressive, but only if you are a Rams fan over 70. Is Elroy even considered a name anymore? Boy, The Jetson’s got that one wrong.
Now, while most of these guys started playing before face masks were put on NFL helmets, there is some real star power here.
Norm Van Brocklin still holds the single-game passing yards record, 544 yards. He was selected to six Pro Bowls in nine seasons with the Rams and led them to four NFL Championships.
Deacon Jones invented a move, the “head slap, that was so devastating to offensive linemen that the NFL outlawed it in 1976. Had sacks been tracked, he would have amassed 173.5 sacks over his career, putting him third all-time. Which, of course, brings us to Jack Youngblood. He would be tied for fifth in sacks with 150.5. And of course, we can’t forget about Merlin Olsen. He holds the record for most Pro Bowl selections, going to the Pro Bowl 14 of his 15 seasons.
Last but not least there is Eric Dickerson. Dickerson only played four full seasons with the Rams but is considered to be one of the icons of LA football history. He holds the single-season rushing yards record, 2,105 yards. As a Ram, he averaged 111.5 yards per game. He led the league in rushing three out of the four full seasons in LA.
The most recent iteration of the Rams features star players to take into consideration. Aaron Donald, Jared Goff, Todd Gurley, and Cooper Kupp have all contributed significantly to the success of these Los Angeles Rams: Three straight winning seasons, two trips to the playoffs and an NFC Championship.
Star Player Score: 21
STL Rams: Hall of Famers
The STL Rams had 21 seasons to make their mark on football and that they did with four Hall of Fame inductees.
Not only was Kurt Warner the fuel behind the high octane offense, but his story lifts him from a mere star quarterback to a folk legend. He went from bagging groceries to collecting trophies. Hollywood executives would send this story back to the writer’s room with notes like, “too campy” and “not believable enough.” But Kurt Warner did it and he did it in St. Louis. He won a Super Bowl and was named Super Bowl MVP. He’s a two-time NFL MVP, which puts him in the conversation with Steve Young and Aaron Rodgers.
Marshall Faulk sure could run the ball, but what made him truly special was that he could catch the ball too. He and Roger Craig were the only two players to run and catch for 1,000 yards in a season, Christian McCaffrey did it this past year. Faulk’s versatility helped win Super Bowl XXXIV. He was held to just 17 yards rushing, but still caught five passes for 90 yards. Faulk was named Offensive Player of the Year, three years in a row. An honor held by him and Earl Campbell.
Issac Bruce flew under the radar much of his career due to how many bad Rams teams he played on. He played on exactly four winning squads in his 14 seasons with the Rams. He caught passes from such no-names as Chris Miller, Tony Banks, and Marc Bulger. During those winning years, Torry Holt outshined Bruce. But, in those years he still racked up over 900 yards per season and remains the Rams leading receiver of all-time.
Orlando Pace may be the biggest reason The Greatest Show On Turf flourished. At left tackle, Pace was guarding Kurt Warner’s blindside. There is no doubt that Warner wouldn’t have been as good if he didn’t know that Pace had that on lockdown.
Star Player Score: 22
In all reality, the “new” LA Rams fan base is primordial at this point. They play in a 97-year-old stadium (huge upgrade coming soon) in a city that had 22 years to become fans of other teams. There’s a whole generation of Angelinos that probably didn’t even know that the LA Rams were ever a thing. So the Rams are starting from scratch.
What we can see is that people are turning out to watch the Rams play football. In the four seasons since their return, they have been in the top 10 of home field attendance three times. In their first season, a season in which they were not good, Angelinos showed their excitement to have football back. The Rams ranked second in attendance in the league that year.
A look back into the first iteration of the LA Rams, reveals a “fair-weather” fan base. An accusation that has been leveled against southern Californian fans many times before. In a mere four seasons after having made the 1989 conference championship game, the Rams attendance dropped to dead last in the league. A sad state considering the Rams held the record for highest attendance record which stood for 49 years.
Fan Base Score: 10
St. Louis also had a lost generation of football fans. The Cardinals bounced in 87. The return of football to St. Louis saw sellout crowds through the first three seasons. But after three consecutive losing seasons, 1998 saw a 17% drop in attendance. 1999 didn’t see a bump in attendance, but the team got much better. Going from 4-12 in 1998 to 13-3 in ‘99. Of course, they went on to win the Super Bowl that season. In 2000, the attendance numbers were back up to sell out levels. The capacity of the TWA Dome was considered small compared, as newer stadiums ballooned. That dome would raise its ugly head years later as the reason Stan Kronke would move the team.
Despite all that, it seemed like happy days were in St. Louis for the foreseeable future. An ahead-of-his-time head coach, an inspirational QB with a great supporting cast and a stout defense to boot. It seemed like the Rams had a dynasty on its hands. No one could have guessed they would all be gone in a few years. The fans went right along with the stars. By 2008 the home attendance dropped to third-worst, four seasons after making the playoffs. In the time that the Rams were in St. Louis, 19 teams built new stadiums.
Fan Base Score: 15
(You gotta respect fans of a franchise like this. It ain’t easy.)
Coaching football isn’t easy and a good coach is hard to come by. If there is any flaw in the LA Rams coaching, it seems they are often a little too eager to fire a winning coach. Two of their three most successful coaches were fired after posting winning records, George Allen and Chuck Knox.
In his first season, 1966, Allen led the Rams to an 8-6 finish. They were 4-10 in the previous season under Harland Svare. As a Ram, Allen went 49-17-4 with two trips to the playoffs. In his final season, he went 9-4-1 and missed the playoff and was fired. In reality, Allen wasn’t fired for poor performance, but for his brash personality and demand for unilateral power. Allen was one of the first coaches to hire coaches to focus on special teams. His first two hires, Marv Levy, and Dick Vermeil.
Two seasons after firing Allen, the Rams hired Chuck Knox and they won the NFC West for the next five seasons. Despite his regular-season success, Knox faltered in the playoffs losing 5 of the 8 playoff games and never making a Super Bowl. Knox stepped down in 1977 in response to continued conflict with team owner Carrol Rosenbloom.
Knox was hired for a second stint as Rams head coach in 1992. He didn’t last long, he was fired before the teams’ move to St. Louis. In his second stint, he is given credit for Jerome Bettis’ early success in his ground-oriented offense. He also hired Mike Martz as the quarterback’s coach in 1994. In 1995, Martz became the wide receiver’s coach, where he coached Isaac Bruce in his second season. Bruce went from 21 catches to 119.
Sean McVay currently has the best winning percentage of any Rams head coach. And he has already done something that Knox and Allen never did, go to a Super Bowl. That being said, he has a long career ahead of him. Similar to the star players, it’s hard not to like what we have seen so far. He turned the team around quickly and he has them pointed in the right direction. That doesn’t really mean anything, though. Just look at how quickly things changed in St. Louis.
Coaches Score: 8
The STL Rams had two good coaches in 20 years and they just so happen to have come from the LA Rams coaching tree. Dick Vermeil came out of retirement to make it happen in St. Louis. Previously, Vermeil had been the head coach of the Philadelphia Eagles from 1976 to 1982. In his tenure in Philly, he ended the team’s 18-year playoff drought and led them to the Super Bowl in 1980. He retired in 1982 citing occupational burnout. After two losing seasons in St. Louis, the Rams looked to Vermeil to turn around another franchise and that’s what he did. By his third season, Vermeil made it back to the Super Bowl and this time he won it and then he retired again.
Vermeil handed the team off to his offensive coordinator, Mike Martz. Martz picked up right where Vermeil left off and St. Louis looked to have the makings of the next NFL dynasty. But by 2002, the wheels started to come off. Marshall Faulk was out of gas and Kurt Warner was plagued by injuries. In 2003 Martz permanently replaced Warner with Marc Bulger after the first game of the season. Bulger was a 6th round pick by the Saints, who waived him after training camp the same year. He was picked up by the Rams in 2001. By 2004, the Rams released Warner.
By this time, fans and the Rams front office had grown weary with Martz. He was often in conflict with the franchise and rumors swirled that he had forced Kurt Warner out. In 2005, Martz left the team to treat a bacterial infection around his heart. After he was given clearance to return to coaching the Rams fired Martz.
After 2005, the Rams didn’t have another winning season. In 2012, the Rams hired the perennially mediocre, Jeff Fisher, who was the last coach of the St. Louis Rams.
Coaching Score: 3
Dumb – Firing George Allen, Trading Eric Dickerson, Sticking with Jim Everett for eight seasons, Moving to St. Louis. Les Snead. (Overpaying Todd Gurley, trading away four first-round draft picks in four years.)
Football Acumen Score: 0
Dumb – Releasing Kurt Warner, Sticking with Marc Bulger for eight seasons, Trading Jerome Bettis, Thinking you could replace Jerome Bettis, Not getting a good QB for 14 seasons.
Smart – Drafting Orlando Pace, Torry Holt, Steven Jackson, Roger Saffold, Rob Havenstein, Greg Zuerlein, Aaron Donald, and Todd Gurley. Riding with Kurt Warner’s hot hand in 1999. Hiring Dick Vermeil and Mike Martz.
Football Acumen: 3
The LA Rams have a rich and storied NFL history. They aren’t among the top tier, with the Cowboys and Steelers. But, what the 49ers and the Patriots have taught us is that a franchise with a great coach, a few great players, and a smart front office can be vaulted to the top tier over one or two decades.
So-Fi stadium is going to be great for LA. The new logo sucks. Sean McVay could be our great coach, Jared Goff, and Aaron Donald could be our great players. They aren’t there yet.
Intangibles Score: 0
They changed the logo to an arch with the city name and they played in a dome. What is this, arena league football?
Intangibles Score: -5
Total VORF Scores: St. Louis Rams Vs Los Angeles Rams
LA Rams win by 4!