Just one season ago, the Rams and Chargers provided their fans with winning seasons, playoffs appearances and even the flickering hope of a Super Bowl confrontation.
What a difference a year makes. The Rams Super Bowl LI in Houston, Texas was a dud of magnanimous proportions losing 13-3 to the New England Patriots, after averaging the 2nd most points in the NFL with 32 per game.
Meanwhile, the Chargers hosted a Wild Card game after a 12-4 campaign and then went out and got overwhelmed by the Baltimore Ravens 20-10.
Still, there was great promise coming into the 2019 campaign, the last at their respective homes away from home. The Chargers playing at home field disadvantage in Carson, and the Rams rekindling memories of yester year when they dominated at the Coliseum.
Now, with both the Rams and Chargers scheduled to move to Inglewood in 2020 for the grand opening of SoFi Stadium, they will do so with a drastic momentum shift, one that no one can say for certain how it will turn out.
This region has not opened a new football stadium in my lifetime, and the life spans of many others, so all of this is brand spanking new.
Inglewood is now the epicenter of the sports and entertainment universe, and the new football tenants will both be entering 2020 at crossroads.
For starters will the Chargers move away from franchise quarterback Phillip Rivers, who while passing for 4,055 yards and 21 touchdowns, was also responsible for throwing 18 interceptions?
Star running back Melvin Gordon is most certainly out of here. He fumbled twice in a blowout 39-10 loss to the Vikings, after holding out for most of the season.
Does head coach Anthony Lynn return. His record of 27-22 doesn’t move the needle towards a championship, but you have to love his brash, honest tell it like it is style.
Not all of the Bolts woes can be laid at the headset of Lynn, but he is the captain of the ship that has sunk to the bottom of the Pacific this season, 5-9 on the season, 2-5 at home and in last place in the woeful AFC West.
The foundation for the Rams is much better, but with every team in the NFC improving by leaps and bounds there is a very small window for error. The Rams provided that gapping hole, by losing three consecutive games after starting 3-0.
That 56-40 stunner at the hands of the Tampa Bay Bucs, was a sore eye opener for a defense that is anchored by the best player in the league in Larry Donald. During that 3 game losing streak the Rams D allowed 30 and 20 to the Seahawks and Niners, before Wade Phillips righted the ship in Atlanta where their losing skid ended in a 37-10 victory over the hapless Falcons.
Last week in a must win game against the Cowboys, the defense allowed 44 points in a stinker, all but ending the Rams playoffs hopes and dropping the team to 8-6.
What the future holds for the Rams is a real mystery as this season indicated.
Quarterback Jared Goff signed an extension at the start of the season and is on the book until 2024 and guaranteed $110 million. Running back Todd Gurley II is under contract until 2023 with $45 million guaranteed.
Goff will be just fine as long as the Rams receiver corps can stay healthy. He threw for 3,996 yards, 17 touchdowns, but an alarming 15 interceptions. Gurley on the other hand will likely not rush for 1,000 yards this season and had 741 going into week 16 with 10 touchdowns.
He is NOT the same player he was two years ago, and with only 7 picks in the 2020 draft and none are in the first round there is a chance that next year could be worse than this one which right now at 8-6 is not that good.
The Rams will travel to San Francisco for a date against the Niners on Saturday Dec. 21st, while the Chargers will host the Raiders in their final home game in Carson on Sunday Dec. 22nd.
Regardless what happens, there will be no post season, but hey there is always Santa Claus.