By Darren Cooper
Is there much to BELIEVE about the Los Angeles Rams in 2023?
The BELIEVE mantra has been picked up throughout the world of sports and throughout America, heck, the sign was posted in the White House the other day as a tribute to the Apple TV hit series Ted Lasso.
If you haven’t seen the show, well, that’s too bad, but it centers on Coach Ted Lasso and his eclectic Premier League soccer team in England, AC Richmond. There’s lots of complex relationships (it’s a soap opera), incredible writing (I liked the Christmas episode) and over-the-top evil villains.
The show is midway through its third season, and the biggest theme is that Ted isn’t so much a coach as just a roll-with-it guy with his own problems whose main focus is to make his team better as people first. Whether they win or lose on the field is irrelevant.
The Rams haven’t been featured on TV since Hard Knocks in 2016, but that doesn’t mean we can’t imagine what characters they’d be on Ted Lasso. BELIEVE it, it’s the Rams/Ted Lasso crossover you never knew you needed.
Jalen Ramsey as Jamie Tartt
Tartt was AC Richmond’s star player in the first season, then went up to a better team ($$$), failed and is back with the Rams, excuse me, Greyhounds. Tartt is talented, for sure, but had to learn to be a good teammate before he could really excel.
Jalen Ramsey is the perfect analogy. Ramsey still talks plenty and lately the product on the field hasn’t matched up to the talk, but Ramsey has always been a good teammate. Too bad Ramsey doesn’t play for the Rams anymore.
Baker Mayfield as Keely Jones
It took forever for me to come up with a Keeley Jones comp, but it was sitting there all along in Mayfield, the former Rams quarterback/pitchman. As a former airheaded model turned PR maven Jones is more concerned with how things look than what is really happening. Deep down you know she cares, but she also comes across a little insecure.
Les Snead as Rebecca Welton
Welton is the team owner, very forthright and accommodating, so she lines up nicely with the Rams current GM. You’re not 100 percent sure Welton really knows what’s going on, but the people close to her are loyal and you know she cares. Same for Snead.
Raheem Morris as Coach Beard
Well-read, well-spoken and deeply knowledgeable about soccer, Beard (no first name has been disclosed) is Ted Lasso’s right-hand man, so Morris fits the bill perfectly. I don’t know if Morris quotes from far flung books and esoteric philosophies, but he might. Like Morris though, Beard knows he’s along for the ride and looks like he’s enjoying every second.
Cooper Kupp as Dani Rojas
Rojas lives and breathes soccer. He is sweet on the outside but works tirelessly to be good at the game. It seems like the only thing he’s ever been interested in in his life is soccer. So he’s Cooper Kupp, because couldn’t you see Kupp mid-game talking to his hands about how they need to reach out and catch that football?
Matthew Stafford as Leslie Higgins
Higgins is mainly comic relief on the show. He’s the Director of Football Operations, but when the chips are down, he gets the job done. That sounds like the Rams veteran quarterback. Stafford is unfazed by any challenge, like Higgins, has incredible contacts throughout the league (Stafford is the oldest Ram) and when called upon he makes plays.
Jourdan Rodrigue as Trent Crimm
Of course, you can’t do a show about an English Premier League team without showing off the press. Naturally, Trent Crimm is one of our favorite characters, as the wise and veteran reporter who asks direct questions. Rodrigue, the LA Rams reporter for The Athletic, is as plugged in as any other media member to the team’s fortunes. She brings a humanity to the Rams players and coaches.
Kyle Shanahan as Rupert Mannion
The Niners coach is the perfect comp in our Rams Ted Lasso crossover as the evil owner of West Ham. Mannion is Rebecca’s no-good, two-timing ex-husband determined to ruin everything AC Richmond tries to achieve. Shanahan has old connections to Rams head coach Sean McVay (they worked together in Washington). He is a head coach in the same division and has beaten the Rams more times that not. However, in the end, the good guys win. The Rams have a Super Bowl title, while Shanahan does not.
Brandon Staley as Nathan Shelley
Sticking with the villains here, Rupert brought in former AC Richmond assistant Nathan Shelley to his West Ham club with the idea of destroying Ted Lasso and the Greyhounds. Staley was the Rams DC for a year, then jumped over to the LA Chargers across town. I’d call the Chargers the Rams rival, but let’s be real. Staley is lurking in the woods with his perfect, young, star quarterback ready to rip out the Rams hearts.
(See also Zach Taylor of the Bengals and Matt LaFleur of the Packers).
Aaron Donald as Roy Kent
Kent is now a Greyhounds assistant coach after an amazing soccer career with the perfect chant by fans “He’s here, he’s there, he’s (bleeping) everywhere…ROY KENT!”
Does that not sound like the Rams star defensive lineman? Donald is everywhere for this team. He, like Kent, also doesn’t seem to joke around much, I mean, AD does train with (fake) knives. He takes this job very seriously. AD wants to be the best every day at everything, and he is.
OBJ as Zava
The big (spoiler alert) deal in Season 3 is that AC Richmond has signed a mercurial, strange new striker that goes by one name: Zava.
So far the early returns on Zava have been amazing. He’s a goal-scoring machine and AC Richmond is rocketing up the standings, but Zava’s methods are a little, shall we say, different?
Basically swap out Zava for Odell Beckham Jr.’s name in that previous paragraph and it all fits. Beckham Jr. has a big ego, but he’s a guy the other players love and respect, but the act can wear thin. What happens with Zava might be the key to the Greyhounds/Rams fortunes in 2023.
Sean McVay as Ted Lasso
Lasso doesn’t give press conferences as much as they are stream of consciousness comments about what’s going on in his head, a lot like McVay during the off-season when he was talking about whether he was going to return to the Rams sidelines.
Like Lasso, McVay is young. Like Lasso, McVay has found a way to connect to his players on different personal levels. Like Lasso, McVay has a unique personal style (Lasso the mustache, McVay the shark hair). It’s an easy comp from one head coach to the other, but I BELIEVE (see how I worked that back in?) that it fits.