Cian Fahey has an interesting piece over at Sports on Earth where he’s ranking the supporting casts for QBs around the league.
His approach is to assign values to the offensive line, receiving corps, running back depth chart and coaching but at different totals:
Offensive Line was ranked out of 30. Offensive lines are the most important part of a quarterback's supporting cast because they determine how much pressure he faces, how expansive the offense can be and they have a huge role in balancing the offense. Coaching is ranked out of 10, taking schemes and gameplans into account. Receivers is ranked out of 20 and includes wide receivers, slot receivers and tight ends. Running Backs is ranked out of 5. Teams with one well-rounded back are more likely to rank higher than teams with backs who fill specific roles. Receiving backs are valued in this context than would typically be.
I thought it’s worth looking at the surrounding cast for rookie franchise QB Jared Goff in these rankings since his arrival is the overwhelming (only?) change factor for an offense that ranked dead last in yardage gained in 2015.
Fahey has the Rams coming in at 30th in the league (that’s third-worst) though tied on score with the Tennessee Titans with the San Francisco 49ers in last. Here’s how he assessed the Rams:
Offensive Line: 13/30, Coaching: 5/10, Receivers: 11/20, Running Backs: 5/5.
This is Todd Gurley's offense, -- Jared Goff is just a complementary piece. Grading the offensive line was difficult for a couple of reasons. First, you never know how much Rodger Saffold -- who can be a difference-maker when healthy -- is going to play. Second, the unit has three young, talented starters who have shown flashes of talent, but are still being developed. On the outside, Brian Quick was emerging as the Rams' number one receiver two years ago before a shoulder injury nearly ended his career. Quick never looked fully healthy in 2015, but he is healthy this season, that would be a massive boost for Goff. Kenny Britt and Tavon Austin can both be effective in specific ways, but Britt has proven to be very inconsistent and Austin needs the offense to be catered to his limited skill set.
Looking at it another way, the Rams left 17 points due to the line, 5 due to Rams Head Coach Jeff Fisher and staff, 9 due to the WR group and none for Just Todd Gurley et al. That’s the impact of not working up your line through the draft for years and then trying to address it in a single offseason.
Certainly, the caliber of the line looms largest for Goff’s support in 2016. Fahey fairly notes Saffold’s unreliability due to injury. Both RT Rob Havenstein and LG Jamon Brown fared well in their rookie seasons, though LT Greg Robinson is still looking to meet the mark now headed into year three. And while Garrett Reynolds may be the perfect backup for this team, the young depth in guys like OT Andrew Donnal (roster preview), OL Cody Wichmann (roster preview) and OT Isaiah Battle (roster preview) might not factor in 2016 if Saffold and company can avoid injuries.
As for the other rankings, the coaching and running back rankings seem fair. To give the Rams 11/20 for wide receivers might be high though. Consider that the Miami Dolphins, Green Bay Packers and Atlanta Falcons all got 12/20 appraisals for the WR groups.
If these evaluations end being spot on, it describes a difficult situation for Goff to thrive in in year one. Without a plus line protecting him and the safety blanket of receivers who can make things easier for him, Goff could find the learning curve of the NFL even steeper than for most rookies.