‘Mob Squad’: The Rams’ rise to NFL prominence

When the Rampacked up their bags and left St. Louis for the glitz and glamor that awaited them in Los Angeles, they were welcomed with open arms. It didn’t take long, however, for their homecoming to be spoiled.

Within weeks of the start of the 2016 season, diehard Angelenos started to realize that there was a big difference between simply having a team and being relevant in the NFL. Their response? They moved on.

For a city full of stars, there just isn’t enough time for mediocrity. Be good, or get lost. The Rams learned this lesson quickly, but man, did they get good.

On Sunday, the Rams shut out the Arizona Cardinals to seal a 34-0 win on the second weekend of the season. In their past six quarters, L.A.’s opponents have failed to put a single point on the board. Not only that, but the Cardinals did not even take a snap in the Rams’ territory until the final play of the game.

Running back Todd Gurley has been a key part of the Rams’ rise to Super Bowl contention. (Photo courtesy of Wiki Commons)

A combination of factors can be attributed to the Rams’ dominant rise among the NFL’s elite.

To start, their offense is fast, powerful, and currently run by one of the brightest young minds in the league, Sean McVay.

If they hand the ball off to star running back Todd Gurley, he’ll make a big play more often than not. If the defense somehow finds a way to shut him down, then quarterback Jared Goff can zip it downfield to his three favorite targets: Brandin Cooks, Cooper Kupp, and Robert Woods. Through the first two games, opposing defenses do not seem to have been able to find an effective way to stop both options.

A similar story can be found on the other side of the ball. In a summer where the Lakers might have taken the spotlight in L.A. with their signing of Lebron James, the Rams were sure to remain a part of daily discussions with their offseason moves.

Most notably, they paired Ndamukong Suh with Aaron Donald on their defensive line — a tandem that, on paper, could not be stopped by even the best offensive line in the NFL. In addition, they added Pro-Bowlers such as Marcus Peters and Aqib Talib to round out what was already a top-15 defense in the league.

The only caveat to their acquisition of Suh, Peters, and Talib is that each player is notorious for having big mouths and even bigger tempers. This left many to question whether or not such big personalities would mesh well together on the field. While the Rams have given their defensive line the nickname “Mob Squad,” others have made light-hearted fun of their new collection of players by referring to them as the “goon squad” instead.

However, their performance in the first two games of the season closed any thought that might oppose the effectiveness of these players together. The Rams have proven to be a commanding force on both sides of the ball, and on their way to doing so, they have made NFL football in L.A. entertaining again.

In the span of two years, the Rams transformed their team from a laughing stock into Super Bowl favorites. They’ve learned how to win the hearts of L.A. fans and have captured the exact essence and lure of Hollywood: stars, drama, and endless fun. Oh, and the fans that moved on quickly in 2016? They’re back.

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