Super Bowl or bust has become a popular trope, a fun if not frivolous offseason talking point. Multiple teams might inherit the label in a given year.
The Rams have heard it most in 2021, the hype arriving instantly upon their acquisition of quarterback Matthew Stafford in late January. While L.A.'s championship window looks to be wider than one season, the pressure in 2021 is palpable.
Veteran offensive tackle Andrew Whitworth says that not only do the Rams need to reach Super Bowl LVI, which carries the added weight of being played at SoFi Stadium, but also win it.
"For us, that's just the truth," Whitworth said during a Friday appearance on Good Morning Football. "We've figured out how to win playoff games, we've made some runs in the postseason. And this time for us and this opportunity we feel like this team, nothing short of going to that Super Bowl and winning it is good enough. And that's really the expectation level for us, even though we know that's a slippery slope. But that's where we want to be. And if that's what you want, then you got to be able to speak about it and let people know that that's the only thing you see is the goal, and the only thing you see as accomplishing this season is just going and winning a Super Bowl."
A lot of these Rams, of course, have been there but haven't won that. They might have seemed ahead of schedule when they lost Super Bowl LIII to the Patriots less than three years ago. Expectations are markedly different heading into this season, with many pundits now predicting a deep playoff run.
It's not unwarranted, either. The roster is loaded, key players are in their respective primes, and there are no glaring weaknesses among offensive and defensive units that both ranked in the top 10 just last year. Adding a Pro Bowl talent such as Stafford could prove to be the missing piece to a championship puzzle.
The QB change is a primary reason for the hype -- and, Whitworth noted, the team's internal belief.
"We're excited about having Matthew," Whitworth said. "He's a heck of a football player, and somebody that over the years everybody that's been in the league has watched and had a ton of respect for and really how he plays the game, the toughness he plays it with, and with that extreme talent level he has in being a top pick. Being around him, you can just tell he's your veteran quarterback. He's calm and collected and kind of knows exactly what he wants to do with the football and wants a lot of ownership in the offense and where he's going with the ball.
"I think we're really excited about this year and really excited that, you know what, we won't shy away from the expectations we have for ourselves, adding a guy like Matthew Stafford, and we look forward to the challenge."
His arrival made that both easier and harder.