When the Rams last saw the Coliseum in early October, the carry-over skepticism from their woeful 4-12 record in 2016 still lingered ominously in Los Angeles.
The Rams distributed 60,745 tickets to their game against the Seattle Seahawks five weeks ago, of which 55,000 were probably used. Not a terrible crowd in the whole scheme of the NFL, but certainly not where the Rams hoped to be their second season back in L.A.
It was understandable given the horrific product the Rams fielded last year. After anxiously waiting 21 years to finally get the NFL back – and their very own Rams to boot – much of Los Angeles took one look at the hot mess Jeff Fisher ran out onto the field last year and declared: “Oh hell no.”
Check back with me when you have a good team, many said, choosing instead to watch from home rather than pay big money to support a bad product.
Others promised they’d come out when the new stadium in Inglewood opens in 2020, turned off by the game-day experience of the 92-year-old Coliseum.
Provided the Rams had improved the product, of course.
And who could blame them?
“This is L.A., you have to show a little more for them to really come out and support,” Rams defensive tackle Michael Brockers.
Added linebacker Alec Ogletree: “This is a production league. Fans want to see you win. They want to support a winning team. That’s just the expectation out here.”
The Rams fell woefully short on those expectations last year. And it cost them.
But that was then, this is now.
And it’s on L.A. to now respond accordingly. The way any city would for a team as good as the Rams are right now.
They triumphantly return home on Sunday after sweeping a three-game swing outside of Los Angeles that pushed their record to 6-2 – their best start since 2001 – and alone in first place in the NFC West.
By every measure, they are an exciting, compelling powerhouse. A team any fanbase in the NFL would happily embrace.
But especially Los Angeles, which historically opens its hearts and arms to the kind pizazz and dazzle and charisma the Rams now offer.
They have the best offense in the NFL – pummeling opponents to the tune of 32.9 points per game. They have one of the best young quarterbacks in the game in Jared Goff, who has silenced his first-year critics by throwing for 2,030 yards and 13 touchdowns while completing 60.2 percent of his passes.
And he’s operating in an offensive system composed by hotshot young coach Sean McVay, who in nine…