The man in charge of bandaging every issue for the Rams organization, general manager Les Snead, is looking at a difficult season bound to be full of speculation, doubt, and low confidence for their premier problem-solver. All on the heels of the 2020-21 season that was not a complete loss for the LA Rams but certainly felt like a missed opportunity.
Ending the season with the league’s top-ranked defense, and crippled by the inefficiencies of former Rams quarterback Jared Goff, produced a mixed outlook about the future of this team. Any confidence in the team’s plan moving forward rested on the elite defense after their tenure under rookie defensive coordinator Brandon Staley made the most noise toward the end of the season.
With the departure of the DC, who produced a truly A+ coaching job in his debut year, optimists don’t know where to look other than a rejuvenated offense in the hands of Sean McVay, as he works to incorporate an offense for new Rams quarterback, Matthew Stafford.
McVay should be slated to take over the team’s identity after relegating some of that proxy to Brandon Staley—now the head coach of the Chargers—meaning the higher-ups are not looking to get rid of McVay any time soon. Many speculate that the quick move off of Jared Goff was an outcry from McVay to receive a quarterback that lives up to the game plan’s execution, and if that does not work out then Snead is inevitably to blame.
Where Does Les Snead Stand With The Rams Going Into The 2021-2022 Season?
In the Ram’s final game of the season against Green Bay, a second-round playoff loss, Goff’s shortcomings were on full display and made most evident even before the contest in his first-round benching in favor of John Wolford. McVay knew Goff was no longer serviceable to the team and inevitably puppeteered Les Snead into accepting an offer—as ludicrous as it might have been. He’s the organization’s top dog, meaning a list of people that would be ran out of town first exists, and Les Snead has a lottery pick for the top spot on that list.
Les Snead’s fingerprints have been all over the recent success of the Rams post-Jeff Fisher. While the heavily discussed GM deservedly should get an additional season or two to get LA back in contention for a deep playoff run, his role may be the next play for change in the organization. Goff took the first hit, and while the general fanbase believes that Matthew Stafford will be an improvement for the offense, the move still has room to backfire if the 33-year-old quarterback does not mesh with the system.
Reflected on the paybooks, the window of opportunity will be shrinking with a potential exodus of key talent—exemplified by the inability to pay standout safety John Johnson III, the first domino in the line of expiring contracts as Snead put the team nearly 27M over the cap.
What will also strain Les Snead in the offseason is how they will pay for players they want. While the Rams have notoriety as a team that pays a TON of money for their roster—one that may have a bubble-like demise with the loaded contracts—they have all felt like good signings at the time.
When Sean McVay transformed the offense to create a Super Bowl contending team, the skeleton of the defense led by Wade Phillips was a few players away from being a thriving unit for the team. In the offseason leading up to their path to the Super Bowl, Les Snead added veteran defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh and cornerback Aqib Talib to complement the developing secondary and add to the pressure from the D-line to help Aaron Donald run down NFC West quarterbacks. The free agency decisions made by Snead upped the clout for the defense, and ultimately kept Tom Brady to his lowest scoring Super Bowl appearance.
Stan Kroenke’s decision to ditch Fisher and keep Snead displays the confidence shown in the GM, however, Kroenke will be needing nothing less than a championship to justify the large costs and anemic/non-existent selection of first-round talent through the draft in the coming years. The strenuous pressure may last all offseason for Les Snead, but with good odds of keeping the Rams on a firm path in tandem with Sean McVay, the level of brain trust can console the large majority of fans to believe their organization can hear the commotion and want to improve their team based on what people watch through their screens every Monday, Thursday, or Sunday.
Los Angeles Rams General Manager Les Snead. Photo Credit: Wikimedia Commons