It was the great philosopher Coolio who once famously said, "Ain't no party like a West Coast party 'cause a West Coast party don't stop."
For the ultra-competitive and sure-to-be-amazing 2018 NFL season, truer words have never been spoken.
I don't want to hear that they built a "dream team" doomed to fail. The Rams had a robust yet savvy offseason. Brandin Cooks was the missing piece on offense to fly downfield. Yes, Marcus Peters, Aqib Talib and Ndamukong Suh were available in part because they can be knuckleheads. But they are great players. And here's the beauty of the Rams: They can bring these cats in because of the culture and coaching. Sean McVay is a stud. Nobody is going to mess with the iconic Wade Phillips. And how is any offensive line going to block the Donald-Suh combination? Donald has been unstoppable for years. He's the most elite defender in the sport, bar none. And now Suh signs a one-year deal this offseason to join him? Wow.
And it's more than all right to be obsessed with the Rams' offense. McVay's play-calling is next level. Last year was so exciting. This year will be better. Jared Goff is thriving under McVay. Cooks is dreamy. Todd Gurley is simply superb, returning to that level after the team finally jettisoned the atrocious Jeff Fisher, who ran what Gurley famously called a "middle school offense." Gurley will have the best season of his career this year.
The Ramsooze talent. They will have a top-nine offense and defense. In fact, it wouldn't shock me if they end up in the top five in both categories. The coaching and leadership will keep them focused with great expectations. And that has to be the case in the NFC, with six legit Super Bowl teams and 10-12 potential playoff teams. The NFC is loaded. The Falcons, Eagles, Vikings and Packers all need to be accounted for. The Rams are the most talented team in football, though.
I get it.
And I have questions throughout the AFC.
I know the Patriots' upside with Tom Brady and Bill Belichick is to win the Super Bowl. Obviously. It's the best dynasty in sports history. But that receiver corps is so weak. And the issues that have bubbled up are legit. The Steelers have contractual/social-media/looking-ahead/not-buttoned-up drama issues. I love the Jaguars, but, you know ... Blake Bortles. (Actually, L.A. vs. Jacksonville is my AFC title game.) I'm in on the Houston bounce-back, and I'm driving the Patrick Mahomes train.
But the Chargers have talent, upside and balance, and really, they are due. In talking to Chargers general manager Tom Telesco on our SiriusXM radio show "Schein on Sports," there is a belief this team knows how to win and will get over the hump. I asked Telesco how you change the culture of a team, and I found his answer to be so smart and comprehensive.
"I think a lot of it is just preparation," Telesco said. "A lot of it comes from the practice field. A lot of it comes from running different situations that you practice on Wednesday and Thursday and Friday and even on a Saturday walk-through about how you're going to handle different situations late in games. There are so many quality teams in the NFL, so many games in the fourth quarter come down to a possession here, a possession there. A made kick, a missed kick. I thought last year, we saw great improvement. I think having two pass rushers can help you close out games, and having some weapons on offense can help you try to score late. So, yeah, I mean each year to me is unique to itself. I thought last year, we improved there, and we gotta keep it going this year."
It's practice and coaching and attention to detail and leadership. And the Chargers, in my opinion, have those things. They finally have "it" with the great talent.
Philip Rivers is still playing like a Hall of Famer. And make no mistake, he will be enshrined in Canton one day. Melvin Gordon is a great back. Keenan Allen is a machine at receiver. Mike Williams' rookie season was a lost cause, but he will break out this season. Joey Bosa is a star. The Bosa and Melvin Ingram pairing is the best pass-rushing combination in the sport. Telesco could get arrested for stealing safety Derwin James with the 17th selection in the first round of this year's draft -- he's my pick for Defensive Rookie of the Year. The defensive backfield is talented, even after the season-ending injuries suffered by Jason Verrett and Jaylen Watkins.
Forever, the Chargers have felt cursed. Whatever could go wrong obviously would. Their mind-numbing losses are plentiful and soul-crushing. Heck, last year, it seemed like they were the only team on the road for 16 weeks, with the crowd at "home" in the franchise's first year in L.A. rooting for the opposing team!
Anthony Lynn and his staff are the right guys to shift the culture and raise the bar in terms of accountability and expectations. Over the course of five days in early May, I interviewed both Rams GM Les Snead and Telesco on our radio show. There was a pretty remarkable, legit and similar confidence from both about their rosters and how to get to the promised land.
I'm all in on both.