Next Sunday, the Los Angeles Rams will host the Indianapolis Colts on the opening weekend of the regular season. LA Rams correspondent Tom Green gives his thoughts on the game and the upcoming 2017 season from a Rams perspective.
The Los Angeles Rams will be looking to have a strong start to the 2017 regular season after going 4-12 in their first season back in the city of Angels. The Rams had a solid preseason, finishing with a 2-2 record which included victories over the Dallas Cowboys and the Oakland Raiders.
Sunday will see them taking on an Indianapolis Colts team who are missing starting quarterback Andrew Luck for the week one encounter as Luck is still recovering from a shoulder operation he had in the offseason. His replacement will be his backup Scott Tolzein.
Aaron Donald Contract Situation
On paper, the Rams should have the advantage in this game, but Aaron Donald‘s future with the team is in doubt as he has not signed a contract extension which could hurt LA’s chances going forward if it is not resolved quickly.
Donald’s contract is set to expire at the end of the 2018 season as the Rams are exercising their fifth-year option on his contract, but his hold outs from training camps and practices are the last thing the team needed before the regular season.
Fortunately for Rams fans, this is not the first time a big name player has been in disruptive contract negotiations before the regular season. In 2016, Tavon Austin missed practices and training camps while in contract negotiations, but he eventually signed a 4-year deal worth $42 million one week before the first game of the regular season.
Jared Goff needs to shine
Quarterback Jared Goff will be under a lot of pressure to perform against the Colts after the Rams traded to get him more offensive weapons such as wide receiver Sammy Watkins. He has been brought in to try and help Goff improve the passing game and to relieve the pressure on running back Todd Gurley III who struggled to emulate his rookie year.
Goff struggled in his rookie year with the Rams, finishing with a 0-7 record as a starter and only 1089 yards to his name in 2016. The first overall pick in the 2016 NFL Draft has already shown signs of improvement throughout the off season and in the preseason he threw for 250 yards in three games.
This is more than he achieved in last year’s preseason where he competed in all four games. It’s also important to remember that Goff is only 22 years old and the same age as a lot of the players in the NFL draft such as Mitchell Trubisky of the Chicago Bears and Patrick Mahomes II of the Kansas City Chiefs.
Goff is also a player who has a history of making a slow start at different levels of the sport. For example, according to MaxPreps.com, Goff threw for 3629 yards in his last year of Varsity football at Marin Catholic High School before earning a scholarship to the University of California.
He then struggled in his first season with the Golden Bears, starting his college career with a 1-11 record as the starter despite throwing for a respectable 3508 yards in his rookie season.
Goff has only had one season in the NFL and is already being written off as a bust by a lot of Rams fans around the country but has the opportunity to prove his doubters wrong this season. Obviously, the jump from College Football to the NFL is more difficult than adjusting from high school football to college ball, but it is promising.
|2011||Marin Catholic Wildcats||High School Varsity||12/1||N/A||N/A||N/A|
|2012||Marin Catholic Wildcats||High School Varsity||14/2||3629||40||12|
|2013||Cal Golden Bears||College||0/11||3508||18||10|
|2014||Cal Golden Bears||College||5/7||3973||35||7|
|2015||Cal Golden Bears||College||8/5||4714||43||13|
|2016||Los Angeles Rams||NFL||0/7||1089||5||7|
Sean McVay getting his shot
At the end of the 2016 season, the Rams hired Sean McVay as head coach in an attempt to turn around the fortunes of the franchise after Jeff Fisher’s disappointing five-year reign. This is the first time McVay has been in charge of an NFL team but he has two years experience as an NFL offensive coordinator with Washington and seven years experience as a positional coach around the league. The players have been happy with the way he has led the team so far and he has the potential to do great things with the Rams if all goes to plan.
His biggest task will be improving the offense which was one of the worst in the NFL last season. He has already brought in offensive weapons to assist Goff in his second year, but McVay will also need to continue Fisher’s work with the Rams defense (which has been a major strength in recent years) and build trust with the key players on defense, such as Donald and Alec Ogletree.
Previous encounters with the Colts
2013 – St Louis Rams 38-0 Indianapolis Colts (Away)
2009 – St Louis Rams 6-42 Indianapolis Colts (Home)
2005 – St Louis Rams 28-45 Indianapolis Colts (Away)
2001 – St Louis Rams 42-17 Indianapolis Colts (Home)
This game will also be the first game between the LA Rams and Colts since the 17th September 1989. On that occasion, the Rams won 31-17 during week 3 of the regular season at Anaheim Stadium.