By NICOLAS IPARRAGUIRRE
Since the 1972 Miami Dolphins, no NFL has been able to finish the regular and postseason undefeated. In recent years, only the 2007 New England Patriots have come close, with the Patriots losing in the Super Bowl XLII to the Giants in a 17-14 game.
While no team has accomplished the feat in more than 40 years, whenever a team can win the first seven games of the regular season like the Los Angeles Rams have thus far, it is natural for NFL writers to discuss the possibility of an undefeated season. While the odds are unlikely, the Rams have earned the right for a potential undefeated season to become a discussion. Ranking in the top five in both scoring offense and defense, while also leading the league in average margin of victory, the Rams have had an incredible season.
When most NFL writers discuss the Rams’ potential for an undefeated season, most will properly indicate that the feat is so difficult, it’s unlikely to ever be accomplished. But ESPN’s Bill Barnwell covering the topic from a different provided the type of context that all sports reporters should strive towards.
Instead of discussing the unlikely possibility of the Rams running the table, Barnwell explained how the way Rams head coach Sean McVay operates his football team makes the feat all but impossible. Barnwell explains that McVay rarely subs players when healthy and his history of resting players whenever possible. This manifested itself in resting starters in week 17 of the NFL season, despite the opportunity to secure the third seed in the NFC. McVay also rested most of his starters during the preseason, with starting quarterback Jared Goff not taking a single snap in four preseason games.
While much of an NFL writer’s job is report team news and provide basic scouting reports/team trends, Barnwell was able to talk about an unlikely scenario in a way that properly informed readers. By refraining from hyperbole and recording strong research for his article, Barnwell provides an example of excellent coverage from an NFL writer.