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Random Ramsdom: December 21: St. Louis Rams - Surging Towards .500

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The Rams have been mathematically eliminated from the playoffs. Two wins to finish the season (a four game winning streak and .500 record) could be a springboard to a better 2016, especially if the Rams can upgrade the QB position.

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Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports

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A touching gesture and wonderful picture:

A great Tavon Austin stat:

Classy gesture towards Stedman Bailey by Coach Fisher:

The mark of quality and consistency:

The latest in a distinguished group of famous Rams RB's:

I would shut him down for the remainder of the season:

A classy gesture by a great group of players:

A lot of fun and games going on:

One of the better lines you'll ever hear:

DT Aaron Donald is the best player in the NFL nobody talks about: Forbes

They'll be talking a lot more about Donald after another standout performance (in the national spotlight) against Tampa Bay last Thursday night.

Fisher more likely to return with contract extension: NFL.com

Michael Silver shares his thoughts on why Rams coach Jeff Fisher is likelier to get an extension than his walking papers.

Aaron Donald Worthy Of Defensive Player Of The Year: Pro Football Focus

Set aside the grades and statistics. Do the eyeball test. Who is the DPOY? Aaron Donald.

L.A. stadium solution has never been closer, yet NFL owners are miles apart: L.A. Times

It should be an interesting next 30 days, as the stadium and relocation sturm and drang drama is driven towards resolution.

Greg Robinson - Left Tackle - St. Louis Rams: Block Report

Encouraging words about Greg Robinson:

"There’s nothing going on with Greg Robinson that can’t be fixed.  I believe Greg can be one of the greatest offensive linemen to ever play in the NFL."

Draft Prospect Highlight Reel: QB - Connor Cook - Michigan St.

Highlights: Buccaneers at Rams: St. Louis Rams Official Website

The top plays from Thursday's victory over Tampa Bay.

A year in business of the NFL: Sports Illustrated

Andrew Brandt takes a look back at 10 stories away from the field that shaped the 2015 NFL season.

Chargers-Rams franchise swap could be only way out of L.A. maze: Pro Football Talk

I wonder how many Rams fans would gladly trade Stan Kroenke for Dean Spanos as the owner of the St. Louis Rams?

2016 NFL Mock Draft: Walter Football

Charlie Campbell updates his three round mock draft. The Rams select LB Jaylon Smith in the first round, QB Carson Wentz and WR Tyler Boyd in the second round and C Max Tuerk. Perhaps Charlie's best effort to date re the Rams.

What Roger Goodell's "Letter" Really Means: 101 Sports ESPN

Could Bernie Miklasz be on to something here?

"Did the NFL office — sensing that the committees were favoring Carson over Inglewood — realize that desperate measures were required to block the STL stadium bill from passing?"

Stat Facts Of The Week: Toxic Differential

Toxic Differential Leaders
Team Turnover Differential Big Play Differential Toxic Differential
1 Carolina Panthers 18 36 54
2 Seattle Seahawks 6 34 40
3 Cincinnati Bengals 6 25 31
4 Pittsburgh Steelers 4 25 29
5 Buffalo Bills 3 24 27
6 Kansas City Chiefs 12 14 26
7 Green Bay Packers 7 12 19
8 New England Patriots 5 12 17
9 Minnesota Vikings 0 16 16
10 Arizona Cardinals 6 8 14
11 Tampa Bay Buccaneers -1 14 13
12 New York Jets 5 7 12
13 Jacksonville Jaguars -5 10 5
14 St. Louis Rams 1 3 4
15 Denver Broncos 0 1 1
16 Philadelphia Eagles 2 -1 1
17 New York Giants 10 -16 -6
18 Chicago Bears -2 -6 -8
19 Baltimore Ravens -12 4 -8
20 Atlanta Falcons -6 -3 -9
21 San Francisco 49ers 0 -10 -10
22 Oakland Raiders 0 -12 -12
23 Houston Texans -1 -11 -12
24 Miami Dolphins -3 -18 -21
25 Dallas Cowboys -15 -7 -22
26 New Orleans Saints -2 -22 -24
27 Tennessee Titans -9 -17 -26
28 Indianapolis Colts -6 -22 -28
29 Detroit Lions -9 -19 -28
30 Washington Redskins 0 -29 -29
31 Cleveland Browns -7 -25 -32
32 San Diego Chargers -7 -27 -34

The expression "toxic differential" was coined by former NFL coach Brian Billick. Billick was head coach of the Baltimore Ravens for 9 seasons, and led them to a Super Bowl victory in the 2000 season.

From an article by Brian Billick for NFL.com in November, 2011:

"People are constantly looking for the right combination of stats to indicate the probable success of a team. What are the key factors to winning? Is it sacks, third-down conversions, first-down efficiency, the ability to run the ball and stop the run, total passing yards? All are important, but none are a precise indicator of success."

"Beginning in 1998, when I was the Vikings' offensive coordinator, I used a formula that I called the "toxic differential" as the best barometer for our team's success. Simply stated, the toxic differential is the correlation between turnovers and explosive plays."


St. Louis approves financing package for new football stadium: St. Louis Post-Dispatch

Another hurdle was cleared on Friday, as the Board of Aldermen approved St. Louis' share of funding for construction of a new stadium.

Jeff Fisher Friday Press Conference: St. Louis Rams Official Website

Jeff Fisher looked calm, cool and happy the day after the game.

"Concussion" film stirs NFL brain injury debate: Yahoo Sports

Concussions, CTE and the NFL all play prominent roles in this hard-hitting film.

Todd Gurley joins Eric Dickerson, Jerome Bettis in Rams rookie history: ESPN NFL Nation

In the game against Tampa Bay on Thursday night...

"Todd Gurley became just the third Rams rookie to rush for 1,000 or more yards in a season, joining Hall of Famers Jerome Bettis (1993) and Eric Dickerson (1983) in that exclusive club. Gurley also became the first Rams runner of any age to reach 1,000 rushing yards since Steven Jackson in 2012."

Friday Wrap-Up: Fisher Arranges FaceTime With Bailey: St. Louis Rams Official Website

"Head coach Jeff Fisher arranged for a FaceTime call during an afternoon meeting at the team hotel, which was the first time the whole team had gotten to see him since the shooting."

"Yeah, we had it set up and it was really special," Fisher said at his Friday press conference. "Guys didn’t anticipate it. He wished them well."

On This Day In Sports History

1969 - Vince Lombardi coaches his last football game.

1891 - The first game of basketball (based on rules created by James Naismith), played by 18 students in Springfield, Massachusetts.

QB guru Sean Salisbury joined Kevin Wheeler to talk about Nick Foles, Case Keenum, and Sean Mannion, and tells if the Rams' QB answer is here.

Fisher Praises Keenum's improvement In Win Over Bucs

St. Louis Rams Weekly Salary "Re-Cap"

The Rams have $2,461,779 in available salary cap space as of 11:00 pm, Sunday, December 20 (the 7th lowest total in the league). Please check here and here for my regular salary cap updates throughout the year.

If Kroenke doesn't like the stadium plan, can another team come in and make an offer?

Pro Football Focus Grades: Rams vs. Buccaneers

Here are the top takeaways and highest-graded players from the Rams’ 31-23 victory over the Buccaneers:

St. Louis Rams

– After another stellar performance last night, Aaron Donald (+6.6) has surpassed Geno Atkins’ 2012 season, and now owns the highest single season grade for a defensive tackle in the nine years we have been grading games here at PFF. Donald collected three stops and six pressures (three hits, three hurries) to collect his 15th straight positively graded game, and has only graded negatively four times in individual facets (three times in run defense, once as a pass rusher) this season. It’s just been an absolutely remarkable season for Donald, and he continues to keep pace in a competitive race for Defensive Player of the Year.

– The Rams got the jump on the Bucs on Thursday, courtesy of chunk plays, particularly from their receivers. Tavon Austin (+1.9) and Kenny Britt (+2.0) exploited the Bucs’ aggressive defense. Britt picked up a huge gain off of a double move, and Austin blew past the Bucs’ after the catch. The latter broke five tackles, combining his hybrid work as a runner and a receiver on only seven touches.

– While there were struggles in this game as a run blocker, Rams left tackle Greg Robinson earned his first positive grade in pass protection since Week 8, not allowing a hit or sack for only the third time this season and the fourth time since moving to left tackle in Week 9 of last season. In the last two weeks, Rams’ fans will be eager to see Robinson show some signs of progress and perform well as both a pass blocker and run blocker in the same game. Robinson has only earned a positive grade as a run blocker and pass blocker in the same game once since his move to left tackle, exactly a year ago this week against the Cardinals.

Top performers:

DT Aaron Donald (+6.6)

DE William Hayes (+2.8)

DT Michael Brockers (+2.2)

WR Kenny Britt (+2.0)

WR Tavon Austin (+1.9)

Tampa Bay Buccaneers

– Equal parts jaw dropping and head scratching, last night’s game (+1.1) was reminiscent of Jameis Winston’s final season at Florida State. Some of his deep and intermediate throws into coverage were sublime; others were ridiculous and thrown directly to the coverage, including his interception to Trumaine Johnson (-1.3). Since Week 4, though, the good have outweighed the bad for the most part with Winston. If he continues to produce some of the throws he launched night, it’s easy to predict that his positive progress from recent seasons will continue into next.

– Re-united as starters for the first time since sharing a secondary in Chicago, both Major Wright (-2.5) and Chris Conte (-3.0) produced eerily reminiscent of their latter seasons with the Bears. Wright and Conte combined for five missed tackles last night, mimicking the 31 they racked up in 2013 with Chicago. Conte’s tackling has been better than this in 2015—these were his first missed tackles since Week 9. The Bucs will hope that this was merely a one week blip on the radar and not the sketchy tackling habits resurfacing from his Bears days.

– While there was one drop to take his season total to 14, this 157-yard game from Mike Evans (+3.4) was one of the high points in what has proven to be a second season of extremes for the gigantic wide receiver. Evans collected 60 yards against each of the Rams’ starting corners (4/7 against Trumaine Johnson, 3/5 against Janoris Jenkins) while also beating the St. Louis safeties for a catch apiece. Evans caught seven of Winston’s nine completions on targets aimed 10 or more yards down the field.

Top performers:

WR Mike Evans (+3.4)

LB Danny Lansanah (+3.1)

LB Lavonte David (+1.9)

DT Tony McDaniel (+1.8)

WR Adam Humphries (+1.5)

Rams Offense Perking Up With Boras, Keenum: 101 Sports ESPN

I believe Case Keenum and Rob Boras have made a difference in the past couple of games. Forgotten though, is the improved play of the offensive line. The same unit has played together for three games straight now. Coincidence? I think not.

LB Ogletree will return to practice this week: St. Louis Post-Dispatch

As Jeff Fisher noted:

"The goal would be to see if he’d be available for San Francisco (in the season finale on Jan. 3). If not, then he’s got a head-start on the offseason program."

Top 20 unrestricted free agents for 2016: NFL.com

Janoris Jenkins makes Gregg Rosenthal's top 20 list. Will the Rams re-sign JJ? Trumaine Johnson? Both?

Boras brings spark to Rams offense: St. Louis Post-Dispatch

After two weeks on the job as OC, so far so good. Will Rob Boras be the Rams' OC next season, or will the Rams look outside the organization for a new OC?

No quarterback means no hope: St. Louis Post-Dispatch

Fact is, you just don't win in the NFL without stellar QB play. Period.

Another Smashing Sunday: Sports Illustrated - MMQB

Peter King takes us through the week that was in the NFL and makes some pretty astute observations regarding the Rams.

2016 NFL Mock Draft: St. Louis Rams - 6 Rounds: Rams In Perspective

My updated 6 round mock draft. The Rams select a WR in the first round, then pull a surprise, trading back up into the first round to select a QB.

St. Louis Rams Current Roster & Depth Chart

C Tim Barnes Demetrius Rhaney Eric Kush
RG Cody Wichmann Brian Folkerts
LG Garrett Reynolds
RT Rob Havenstein Andrew Donnal
LT Greg Robinson Isaiah Battle
TE Lance Kendricks Cory Harkey
TE Jared Cook
WR Tavon Austin Wes Welker Bradley Marquez
WR Kenny Britt Brian Quick
RB Tre Mason Benny Cunningham
RB Todd Gurley Chase Reynolds
QB Case Keenum Nick Foles Sean Mannion
PK Greg Zuerlein
P John Hekker
LS Jake McQuaide
DT Aaron Donald Nick Fairley Louis Trinca-Pasat
DT Michael Brockers Ethan Westbrooks Doug Worthington
DE Chris Long Eugene Sims
DE William Hayes Matt Longacre
MLB James Laurinaitis Bryce Hager
OLB Mark Barron Daren Bates
OLB Akeem Ayers Cameron Lynch
CB Janoris Jenkins Marcus Roberson Eric Patterson
CB Trumaine Johnson Lamarcus Joyner
SS Maurice Alexander Christian Bryant
FS Rodney McLeod Cody Davis
Practice Squad Injured Reserve IR/Designated To Return
LB  Zack Hodges CB  E.J. Gaines OLB  Alec Ogletree
LB  Matthew Wells OG  Rodger Saffold
CB  Melvin White WR  Isiah Ferguson Reserve/Suspended
RB  Malcolm Brown OT  Darrell Williams
FB  Zach Laskey OG  Jamon Brown RB  Trey Watts
TE  Justice Cunningham SS  Tim McDonald Jr.
WR  Nick Toon DE  Robert Quinn Reserve/NFI
WR  J.J. Worton
OG  David Arkin WR  Stedman Bailey
72 Players Total

Classic Rock Monday: John Lennon - Happy Xmas (War Is Over)

Please have a great Monday and a Ramtastic holiday season!!