When Jared Goff leads the LA Rams out at Super Bowl 53 this weekend, he has the chance to put another nail in the Patriots coffin and make good on a promise he made in his first season.
Having just fallen to their sixth defeat in a row in the 2016 season, Goff told reporters, ‘I promise you guys it will get fixed. I’ll give it everything in my heart and soul to get it fixed’.
The 24-year-old has already helped turn around a franchise that was one of the NFL’s worst under Jeff Fisher and, having improved immeasurably under Sean McVay, he can now deliver the Rams first Super Bowl win in almost two decades.
Of course, before that he and his team mates will have to navigate a hectic week of media commitments and festivities – all of which their opponents are old hands at dealing with and ending it as winners.
The two key issues players will have to calmly negotiate daily are going to revolve around running back Todd Gurley, who played almost no part in the win over the Saints, and whether they really deserve to be in Atlanta after the missed Nickell Robey-Coleman pass interference call.
Their opponents have their own issues. However, they have already spun the chatter to their benefit – making themselves the underdogs in their own heads.
The Gurley Conundrum
Is the Rams star running back still injured? Heading into this week, this is all that has been discussed after cameras regularly cut to Gurley standing on the touchline and riding an exercise bike as his team mates fought out a comeback win in New Orleans.
But McVay has promised Gurley will be more involved this weekend.
The Patriots have capably shut down running backs and will likely work to do the same to Gurley and CJ Anderson this weekend.
But reigning offensive player of the year Gurley will still have a lot to offer, particularly if McVay can take a leaf out of the Chiefs and Andy Reid’s book.
While Bill Belichick was able to restrict Damien Williams to just 30 yards in ten attempts in the Championship game, the running back was still able to score two touchdowns as a catcher out of the backfield.
And that could have been three if Patrick Mahomes hadn’t overthrown a pass to Williams in the second quarter.
If Gurley is halted at the line of scrimmage this week, he still offers a lot to McVay in the passing game.
Getting to Brady
Wade Phillips has a lot on his plate this week as he plots how to bring down one of the greatest quarterbacks football has ever seen.
Brady has been kept on his feet by his offensive line so far, but with Aaron Donald on the prowl this could be the week that changes.
In all three of the Brady’s Super Bowl defeats, he has been battered by defences – getting sacked eight times and pressured 48 times.
Just last year, the quarterback was put under pressure on 46.9 per cent of his drop backs, leading to Philadelphia being crowned champions.
Stopping Brady getting off quick passes and then putting him under pressure with Donald, Ndamukong Suh and Dante Fowler is key if the Rams are to win this weekend.
Having intercepted the ball and worked their way back down field in New Orleans, up stepped Greg Zuerlein to send his side to the Super Bowl.
Post-game, we learned Greg The Leg was actually battling with an injured foot, having hurt it before the game but kept it secret from special teams coach Jim Fassel.
While McVay has played down the injury to his kicker’s non-kicking foot this week, Zuerlein’s condition could be a game decider in a close battle this weekend.
The kicker claims he has hit from a mammoth 76 yards in practice, but when it comes down to it this weekend his team mates, coaches and Rams fans will be hoping he doesn’t have a sore foot on his mind if he steps up for a match-winning kick.
Can The Rams Win?
The all-important question, when it comes to it can the Los Angeles Rams actually beat the Patriots.
Belichick’s side have become the league’s greatest dynasty and have been to the Super Bowl so many times there is nothing new in this week to scare them.
But McVay’s side have minimal Super Bowl experience.
If the genius young coach can find a way to keep his quarterback from getting the same treatment Mahomes in the Patriots last game, and Goff can keep his head in the ensuing chaos the Rams can inflict a second Super Bowl defeat on Brady and co.
However, they will need everyone firing on all cylinders if they are going to take down their opponents.