NFL rookie mini-camps aren't much more than an orientation for bewildered young football players to get a "first look" at what's to come. They get their playbooks, suggested off season regimens, some financial advice, and a drop or two of how to handle themselves in their private lives...
It's the "what's next" that's going to decide the future for the Los Angeles Rams, and just what this may be is far from clear. The 2016 NFL Draft for the Rams was all about finding a quarterback. They threw a slew of draft capital at securing Jared Goff, so let his NFL learning curve begin. Rookie quarterbacks have tons of things thrown at them, especially if you're lucky enough the be select #1 overall in the NFL Draft. Teams expect results when they go "all-in" on a player, but I'm not really sure it would be fair in Goff's case? Rams have endured "excuse-train" thoughts for years while Sam Bradford was under center - many of the excuses were in fact very valid - and now they'll need to dig in for at least a year or two while Goff wiggles his way through to either success or failure...
The most troubling aspect of the Los Angeles Rams right now - like in past years - is the offense. Adding a rookie quarterback to make a splash with their new fan market in Los Angeles makes sense. But let's not forget our NFL history lessons, and plug in what happened the last few times teams arrived in new cities:
- 1988 Phoenix Cardinals (changed to "Arizona Cardinals" in 1994): 7-9
- 1996 Ravens finished 4-12 after their move from Cleveland
- 1997 Tennessee Oilers (Changed to Tennessee Titans in 1998): 8-8
- 1995 St. Louis Rams: 7-9
- 2002 Houston Texans (expansion team): 4-12
It's the 2002 Houston Texans - an expansion team - I find intriguing here. They used the top pick in the 2002 NFL Draft to select David Carr... In a draft keyed in on stellar defensive players, the next quarterback taken was Joey Harrington at #3 overall. Both quarterbacks didn't "wow" NFL scouts that year, but Draft Day momentum built, and the Texans needed to make a slash in their new fan market... Sounding eerily familiar?
The Texans had hit NFL rosters for assorted players made available to them under the NFL expansion guideline back then. Their offensive line featured an aging Tony Boselli at the end of his career, but not much else. At wide receiver, the players he had to throw to are now nothing more than really hard trivia question some - not me - could possibly answer:
Currently, the Los Angeles Rams have a far better defense and running back situation than David Carr's Texans did in 2002. Yet, their lack of offensive weapons at wide receiver has to have at least a few Rams fans' stomachs gurgling? The offensive line for the Rams is a very young group, for the most part, with questions at left tackle being highest on my list. I don't think it's an understatement to say Greg Robinson holds Jared Goff's future in his hands, do you? David Carr was sacked 76 times in his rookie year. Yes, 76 times! If Goff is sacked half that many times in 2016, the Rams are in for a long season.
Los Angeles has an ace up their sleeve in running back Todd Gurley, but they can only play that card for a while. Wide receivers Tavon Austin, Kenny Britt, Brian Quick, and rookie 4th round pick Pharroh Cooper, have to find a way to vastly improve, and take the heat off Gurley. Always wishing Stedman Bailey the very best, I just don't see him being able to play in 2016...
While Jared Goff showed an impressive "red zone" ability in college, it's going to have to translate into NFL success quickly. My problem here is: The Rams really don't have anyone I'd regard as a valid threat inside the 10 yard line other than Todd Gurley? His new quarterback being rather slight of build, I doubt head coach Jeff Fisher dreams of Goff scrambling thru defenders toward the end zone. How this facet of the Rams' offense works itself out - or not? - is literally the key to their 2016 NFL season. With all this being said, it's tough to see the Los Angeles Rams offense ranking in the Top 20 in scoring in the coming season.
So based on these few gnashed up ponderings, how do you see the Rams offense faring in 2016. Let me know on Twitter - @thenovelroad - or in the comments...