Season Preview: Los Angeles Rams

The Los Angeles Rams struggled in their first season back in California and Head Coach Jeff Fisher lost his job after a 4-12 record. Sean McVay is the new man in town and the organisation appears to be heading in the right direction, but it may take a couple of years, writes Tom Green...

What should we expect from the Rams?

The Rams have not been in the playoffs for 12 years and haven’t had a winning season since they won the NFC West in 2003. It is hard to see how it will be any different this year unless they improve their passing game. Last year, the Rams had the least productive offense in the NFL and only scored 224 points. They were also only able to move the ball 4203 yards, which was over 600 yards less than the San Francisco 49ers.

Unless Jared Goff bursts onto the scene in his second year the Rams will be highly dependent on their defense, which was one of the strongest in the NFL last season. Fortunately, Sean McVay has managed to hold onto most of the key players on defense and signed offensive threats who should help Goff’s development. This could help the team compete in the NFC West but they probably won’t make the playoffs this season.

The Rams need Goff to be much improved on a difficult rookie year

Did the Rams address all of their needs this offseason?

They haven’t addressed all of them but they have made improvements to the team’s roster and personnel. The biggest improvement was the hiring of McVay  who is the youngest head coach in the NFL. McVay has never been the head coach of a major college program but has been a positional coach for multiple NFL teams such as the Washington Redskins and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. It will be interesting to see how the young coach performs in the NFL.

Another issue with the Rams has been the offensive line which has been improved by the addition of the three-time pro bowler Andrew Whitworth from Free Agency. This will help them with stretch plays and power runs, it will allow Todd Gurley III to have more options in the running game and it will help Jared Goff in the pocket.

The team was also able to sign the 8-year veteran John Sullivan in free agency. Last season the offensive line was the second worst in the league and hopefully, the additions of Whitworth and Sullivan will make an impact on the field.

The Rams also traded for Sammy Watkins from the Buffalo Bills which should provide Goff with more passing options. Unfortunately, the Rams were forced to cut Kenny Britt in order to rebuild several positions which has left Watkins with the difficult job of leading the young wide receiver unit.

Who should Rams fans feel most excited about?

Andrew Whitworth, because he is a difficult man to get round at left tackle so should give Goff more time in the pocket and create holes on the left-hand side of the line for Gurley III to exploit. This addition will also help Watkins get more receiving opportunities than he would have had if McVay hadn’t made any substantial additions to the Rams Offensive Line.

Were there any surprise departures?

The biggest departure was the 2016 receiving leader Kenny Britt who now plays his football in Cleveland. In 2016, Britt had a 1002 yard season and scored 5 touchdowns despite being on a team without an experienced starting quarterback. It isn’t too surprising that McVay cut him as it is obvious that he wants to build the Rams in his own image and Britt just wasn’t a part of it.

Kenny Britt was the fall guy after the Rams traded for Sammy Watkins

Another big departure was cornerback EJ Gaines who was traded for WatkinsApart from these players, the departures have not been as surprising as they were last year when Fisher got rid of James Laurinaitis and Chris Long.

What is the biggest strength of the Rams?

The biggest strength is still their Defensive Line unless Aaron Donald does not renew his contract. Another strength is the special teams unit which has been the saving grace in recent years because of Johnny Hecker‘s punting ability.

And the biggest weakness?

The secondary, as they haven’t brought in any big name defensive backs and are vulnerable against teams with good receivers and experienced quarterbacks.

Breakout star to watch?

Goff will be under a lot of pressure to perform but he now has better weapons and could be the one who breaks out this year. Watkins has been brought in to try and help Goff improve the passing game and to relieve the pressure on Gurley, who struggled to emulate his rookie year.

What will the Bears record be?

If all the additions make an impact the Rams could go 8-8 but they probably will end up with a losing record. My conservative prediction is 5-11.

 

Tom Green

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Tom Green
A British American Footballer with a keen interest in America's game and the NFL.
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