Rams vs. Eagles: A Tale of Two Teams

One of the features of the NFL Record & Fact Book is the list of the first draft pick made by each team every year, with the notation "If club had no first-round selection, first player drafted is listed with round in parentheses."

For the Rams, their top selections since 2017 read as follows:

2017: Gerald Everett, TE, South Alabama (2)
2018: Joseph Noteboom, OT, TCU (3)
2019: Taylor Rapp, FS, Washington (2)
2020: Cam Akers, RB, Florida State (2)
2021: Tutu Atwell, WR, Louisville (2)
2022: Logan Bruss, OG, Wisconsin (3)
2023: ??? (2)

That's seven consecutive years without a first-round pick, four shy of the record of 11 established by Washington from 1969 through 1979. And wouldn't you know who coached that team? The same coach who started out with the Rams before moving on to Washington in 1971: George Allen.

(Allen died on New Year's Eve of 1990; the news was broken during a Monday Night Football game, sparking raucous cheers at Manny's in Moonachie, New Jersey, a sports bar located a stone's throw from MetLife Stadium, because at the end of a Giants/Washington game in 1972, Allen stopped the clock to score a rub-it-in touchdown).

But at least the Rams have a Lombardi Trophy to show for their highly dubious strategy of mortgaging their future for quick fixes, not once but over and over again — which is more than one can say for the Eagles.

Where the Rams did what they did to "go all in" and win Super Bowl LVI, the outcome of the Eagles "going all in" was to lose Super Bowl LVII, followed by a Stalinist purge of their veteran roster, because they spent too much money — a purge that has not yet run its course.

So far, that purge has cost Philadelphia four starters on last season's defense — defensive tackle Javon Hargrave, linebacker T.J. Edwards, and safeties C.J. Gardner-Johnson and Marcus Epps, along with running back Miles Sanders, who ran for 1,269 yards and 11 touchdowns in 2022 (both career highs), plus 2019 first-round draftee Andre Dillard and offensive guard Isaac Seumalo. They did, however, manage to hold onto James Bradberry and Darius Slay, who was a tiger in September and October a year ago but a pussycat from November onward.

To add insult to injury, the Eagles will be playing the toughest schedule in the entire NFL in 2023 — and not only that, but they will be taking the league's second biggest jump in strength of schedule based on a comparison with what every team played in 2022, using the 2022 won-lost records.

About the only saving grace for the Eagles is that they will getting a whole boatload of compensatory picks (which the NFL insisted on including in the collective bargaining agreement that followed Judge David Doty's ruling, which brought free agency to the NFL in 1993) — as many as eight all told, with Hargrave likely commanding a third-round pick.

But those selections will be made in 2024 — not 2023.

If the Eagles finish 8-9 and last in the NFC East this coming year, as good a guess as any, that figures to give them home games against the Bears and either the Texans or the Colts, a road game at Arizona, and the entire NFC South, all four of whose teams had losing seasons a year ago (and one of them — Tampa Bay — has merely just lost the greatest quarterback ever to have played this game to retirement) come 2024.

That's a schedule that is even softer than Kitchen Queen paper towels, which were more than just soft — they were cuddly soft!

So far as the Rams go, their fans can always watch DVDs or Blu-Rays or whatever of their glorious 2021 season for years to come — just like Green Bay fans were reduced to watching Sony Betamax tapes in the 1970s of the Packers winning those two Super Bowls in the previous decade.

In the meantime, as Jerry Jones proved after he bought the Cowboys, what goes down, must come up.

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