Playing in the NFL is a demanding game. There are acceptable margins—injuries, motivation, scheduling, and staff changes. However, none of these have ever produced a more significant fall from grace than the Los Angeles Rams witnessed over the past season. We explain why 2022-23 has been the worst season ever by a Super Bowl defending champion team.
The Los Angeles Rams’ Fall From Grace
Less than 12 months ago, the Los Angeles Rams reached the pinnacle of football glory, winning the Super Bowl LVI 23-20 over the Cincinnati Bengals on February 13th, 2022.
This was only the Rams’ second Super Bowl title, having won in 1999. It was a journey to remember as well, with the Rams scraping through the Wildcard Playoffs over the Cardinals before beating the Buccaneers in the Divisional Playoffs and the 49ers in the NFC Championship. Little did the Rams know that within a year, they would be the laughingstock of the NFL.
By losing 12 games from 16 regular season matches, the Los Angeles Rams not only ensure that they will not qualify for the post-season to defend their title, but they also set another unenvious record. With 12 losses, the Rams are now officially the worst-ever defending Super Bowl champions.
How the 2022-23 Season Unfolded
Not since the Denver Broncos in 2017 has a team won the Super Bowl and then not made the playoffs in consecutive seasons. However, never before has a team made the Super Bowl and lost 12 games the following season.
The Rams would have had some hope early on in the season. Despite dropping their first game 31-10 to the Buffalo Bills, they came back strong winning their next two matches 31-27 and 20-12 over the Atlanta Falcons and Arizona Cardinals to sit 2-1 for the season. At that point, handicappers like Betting.com still had them at good odds to win the Super Bowl.
However, this was the last time the Rams held a positive record, as they lost eight of their next nine games. The Rams managed to pick up two wins in December, but by that stage, it was too little too late as the Los Angeles-based side was confined to their worst-ever post-Super Bowl season.
Early Signs of Trouble for Rams
According to coach Sean McVay, the Rams were in trouble early in 2022. Speaking to the media, McVay expressed concerns about the shortened off-season, courtesy of the Rams making a deep run to the Super Bowl in the previous season.
Matthew Stafford had injury concerns even during the off-season, which resulted in limited game time. His receiver Van Jefferson also suffered an injury that kept him sidelined for two months. Add in injuries to Logan Bruss and Rob Havenstein, and the toll on the Rams was abundantly clear in their performances on the field.