Football Outsiders has released their early DVOA (that's Defense-adjusted Value Over Average) projections for 2016 (behind ESPN's insider paywall because we are all bad people), and they have a familiar sight for Rams fans...
Another seven-win season rounded from a 7.2 mean win projection:
Our QBASE projection system really loves No. 1 overall pick Jared Goff, but rookie quarterbacks still don't have a great track record, class of 2012 aside. The Rams also have to replace two starters in the secondary, plus inside linebacker James Laurinaitis. Combined with a very difficult schedule, it seems like a recipe for another 7-9 season, albeit one with a lot of hope for the future if Goff is as efficient as we expect.
It's not all that unbelievable either. A month ago, much of the staff reacted to the Rams' schedule release with similar win-loss projections with two of us having them at 7-9 (myself included), five staffers at 8-8 and optimistic RamBuck at 9-7.
FWIW, here's their full NFC projections:
- Arizona Cardinals (12-4)
- Green Bay Packers (12-4)
- Dallas Cowboys (10-6)
- Carolina Panthers (9-7)
- Seattle Seahawks (11-5)
- Minnesota Vikings (9-7)
- Detroit Lions (9-7)
- New Orleans Saints (7-9)
- Los Angeles Rams (7-9)
- Atlanta Falcons (7-9)
- Chicago Bears (7-9)
- Tampa Bay Buccaneers (6-10)
- New York Giants (6-10)
- Philadelphia Eagles (6-10)
- Washington Redskins (6-10)
- San Francisco 49ers (4-12)
For reference, in 2012 FO pegged the Rams for 5.0 wins; they went 7-8-1. A year later, the projection was 6.0 wins; they went 7-9. By 2014, the Rams were up to 6.9 projected wins; the Rams limped to a 6-10 final record. Last year with a new QB in Nick Foles, the Rams were all the way up as the fifth-highest projected team in the league with 8.8 wins; Fisherball landed with a thud at 7-9 yet again.
The seven-win projection doesn't necessarily bother me altogether. The Rams acceded to mediocrity some time ago; doing so again isn't the end of the world. What's more worrisome is that I'm not sure it would be enough to oust Head Coach Jeff Fisher who, though he's headed into a contract year and hasn't helped the Rams to a winning record in his four years in charge, was reportedly in contract extension negotiations as recently as Feb. 29.
The question this projection begs is...will Fisherball and its seven-win outputs exist for the Rams...forever?