Over at SI’s MMQB, Andy Benoit has his 10-spot preview of the 2016 Los Angeles Rams. Here’s his 10 angles, paraphrased:
1.) QB Jared Goff should only sit if the O-line can’t do their job
This one’s a bit of an interesting take since it doesn’t really factor in Goff’s ability to perform himself. The idea that if the O-line gels in camp and in the preseason and Goff plays horribly that he should start isn’t necessarily mistaken, just strange that he keys in entirely on the line. And his assessment of Case Keenum as not being “a guy a team can tread water with” calls into question why (a) he was the primary backup last season or (b) why he’s the starting QB right now...but let’s not get ahead of ourselves.
2.) OT Greg Robinson is the biggest unknown bust in the NFL
Not disagreeing with this at all since GRob has been an unqualified bust to this point and certainly the Rams are one of the least-covered teams in the NFL nationally (not putting up a single winning record in 12 years tends to have that effect).
The question is if he can finally put it all together in 2016. If not, the Rams could well have their top need for the 2017 NFL Draft identified.
3.) RB Todd Gurley is good
4.) The Rams’ offense is not
5.) The Rams have the best defensive line in football
I’d agree, but it’s worth pointing out that a year ago, Benoit was claiming the Rams held the best defense in the NFL. Few would argue that by the end of Week 17 the Rams had put up the best defense in the league, so perhaps we can take his praise with a bit of caution. There’s no doubt that Aaron Donald is a phenom, and Robert Quinn has the potential to return to Pro-Bowl form. I’d tab Michael Brockers as one of the most underrated players in the NFL as his role is absolutely vital but doesn’t represent well in the box sheet or in indirect highlights.
The bigger question for 2016 is how the defense, which will certainly lean on the front four yet again, will perform after losing a starter at all four levels.
6.) Def. Coord. Gregg Williams schemes up complicated defensive attacks
No doubt. Between his five-man “Ruby” front packages and the variety of blitz looks the Rams implement, complexity is perhaps the dominating factor for GW’s Rams defenses.
Well, that and physicality.
7.) S Rodney McLeod left a huge hole on the Rams’ roster
[McLeod’s] departure created the most glaring new hole in any NFL roster this past offseason.
8.) The Rams were right to go with CB Trumaine Johnson over CB Janoris Jenkins
This is one of the storylines I’m most eager to see play out this season. Tru has enjoyed the benefit of looking better against subordinate wideouts where Janoris perhaps looked less consistent while covering opponents’ top WRs.
Tru won’t have that benefit this year. Sitting on that franchise tag, Tru’s professional (and financial) future will be determined this season.
9.) MLB Alex Ogletree...
The loss of James Laurinaitis will hurt if freakishly athletic fourth-year pro Alec Ogletree can’t play with awareness and patience at his new Mike position. Ogletree showed encouraging growth in this realm last season before fracturing his fibula in Week 4. Where Laurinaitis (now a Saint) was most valuable was in the pre-snap phase, calling checks and audibles.
10.) The Rams aren’t dirty
I’ve said this for a while. The Rams don’t play outside the rules in a dirty fashion for the most part. They just enforce physicality. They rely on it. Tactically, it’s one of the areas they try to leverage most along with the running game and Williams’ defensive complexity.
Opponents would point to the Rams’ penalty totals, but the numbers are a bit skewed here. The Rams tend to rack up defensive penalties in big bunches whereas the offense is consistently penalized throughout the season.
The Rams had four games with one defensive penalty and one where the D wasn’t flagged at all. The offense played just one game where they were flagged less than two times. And the offense didn’t have a game anywhere close to the defensive output against Minnesota in Week 9 in which they got nine penalties.
The defense just finds itself in overly physical battles sometimes whereas the offense (and no, it’s not just OT Greg Robinson, though he certainly contributed heavily to this) consistently puts up penalties week-to-week.
Which of Benoit’s 10 angles do you disagree with the most? What aspect did he not address that you think is absolutely core to the Rams’ 2016 season?