When you think about the type of teams that make it to the final game, normally an elite quarterback and one or two explosive wide receivers or running backs make their way into the mix. Sometimes a dominant defense can take a team to the promised land, but there is normally at least one household name in the big game that can draw the average NFL fan to watch the Super Bowl even if their team isn’t in it. The obvious big name for the Denver Broncos was Peyton Manning, but the Seahawks didn’t have that player traditionally viewed as a superstar.
Despite Richard Sherman posting some of the best numbers in the league at cornerback , Marshawn Lynch having three straight seasons of more than 1,000 rushing yards and a minimum of 11 rushing touchdowns and Russell Wilson owning the seventh-best passer rating in the NFL, the general mindset was that there was no way that Manning and the Broncos could lose. The talent was obviously there for Seahawks, but the lack of big name recognition outside of Seattle made the team unjustifiably underrated.
The Seahawks were able to come together because head coach Pete Carroll let the players be who they are. Much was made out of Marshawn Lynch‘s quiet demeanor and lack of interest in addressing the media, but his teammates rallied around him and sat through interviews with him to show their support. After being undrafted, signed and then cut from the Minnesota Vikings, deaf fullback Derrick Coleman found a home in Seattle. Wilson consistently heard from “experts” on how he was too short to play, but he now has a Super Bowl ring.
The Rams may not have the flashiest athletes, but the team has the right players to get the job done. Quarterback Sam Bradford has generally been regarded as a disappointment because of his injury history and less than thrilling stats, but he finally seemed to find his rhythm in 2013. His season was cut short with a torn ACL, but he should be able to stay on the same track for success in 2014.
You won’t find a Calvin Johnson or a Dez Bryant at wide receiver for the Rams, but the combination of Chris Givens, Tavon Austin, Brian Quick, Austin Pettis, Jared Cook and new addition Kenny Britt can still find success. Without playmaker Percy Harvin, the Seahawks were still able win games because of the efforts of Golden Tate and Doug Baldwin. Running back Zac Stacy was a fifth-round pick who totaled 973 rushing yards in 14 games in 2013, and the Rams’ offense should be able to help the team win some big games against the NFC West this season.
The defense has a great starting point in the 2014 season, as it ranked ninth against the rush last season. The key defensive additions of Aaron Donald and Lamarcus Joyner faced criticism because of their lack of size, but that should only help to put a collective chip on the shoulders of an up-and-coming defense. It will build the same type of belief that the Legion of Boom has for itself in Seattle.
Finally, drafting defensive end Michael Sam showed that no matter who you are, you have the opportunity to play professional football if you have the talent. He will face a battle to make the team, but just like the Seahawks did with Coleman, the Rams are ignoring off the field criticism and following a vision.
With a young, talented offense and a defense that could finish in the top five against the pass and the rush, the Rams can prove that a group of non-household names can come together and find a road to the playoffs.