Robert Woods is one of the Los Angeles Rams players who has seen these three words attached to his team before the 2021 season: Super Bowl contender.
Draft Kings labeled the Rams as having the fourth best odds to win the February 2022 contest, placing them behind the Buffalo Bills, defending champion Tampa Bay Buccaneers and the favorite to win it all the Kansas City Chiefs.
But the 29-year-old Woods has seen similar preseason expectations before. And he reminded reporters in a video conference interview before June minicamp of what happened to the Rams when they were bombarded with the Super Bowl contender talk.
“Last time we were picked to go to the Super Bowl, we went,” Woods told reporters. “So, I think that’s a good thing. Obviously right now, it’s just talk and goals and potential. But right now, you see all the weapons we have on offense and defense and guys stepping in to make plays this year. We’re a loaded team. We have all the parts.”
Before the Trek to Atlanta to Face the Patriots
The Super Bowl buildup started after the Rams were eliminated by the Atlanta Falcons in the NFC Wildcard contest to end the 2017-18 campaign. Despite the loss, the Rams became a trendy pick to come out of the NFC for the following season.
How did the Rams respond? Finishing 13-3 overall, reclaiming the division and beating the New Orleans Saints in overtime. And their opponent? The favorite to win the big game before the season the New England Patriots.
Woods went on to produce his first 80-catch season during the road to Atlanta: Catching 86 passes for 1,219 yards, the latter number still representing a season-high best for him.
Woods finished the 2019 Super Bowl by becoming the second-best target on an evening Jared Goff struggled immensely against the Patriots, hauling in five passes for 70 yards but no touchdowns. His longest reception stretched 18 yards.
Woods Now Part of a Deeper WR Unit With a New QB
Woods is entering the 2021 season as one of the more seasoned wideouts alongside Cooper Kupp. Both he and Kupp came to the Rams at the same time in 2017. The rest of the WR group comprises of 14-year veteran and newcomer DeSean Jackson, second-year pro Van Jefferson, hybrid rookie wide receiver/tight end Jacob Harris and the team’s first draft selection of the ’21 class Tutu Atwell. Woods said the WR room has a tight bond.
“The chemistry is really tight,” Woods said. “Me and Cooper, we’ve been here the longest. But us taking on that leadership role, getting DeSean acclimated with the offense and how we do things, talking to Van and trying to excel his game to where we know he can make big plays, it’s literally guys across our receiver room working on each other’s game and really just trying to perfect our craft as receivers.”
Now, it’s Matthew Stafford who is throwing the football in his first go around as a Ram. Woods already calls the longtime Detroit Lion a great addition.
“It’s been very nice just from our Zoom meetings just hearing him speak about the offense and some of his reads,” Woods said. “He’s had a great touch and a he’s a great addition to our offense and our team.”
Just like three seasons ago, Woods is aware of the Super Bowl buildup and recalled what happened the last time the Rams were tabbed a heavy favorite to come out of the NFC. But he reminds people that through the hype comes putting in the work.
“We have all the pieces to get where we need to go. Now the work takes place,” Woods said. “Now it’s all on the players and coaches. We have the players, we just have got to put it together correctly every single week.”