The 2016 Los Angeles Rams have officially made it through the halfway point of the preseason. Two weeks away from meaningful football!
I always find that to be funny. Fans all over -- myself included -- are so excited when training camp starts. Just happy to have some relevant football news back in their lives. But after a few days, it's like the hell with the damn preseason games. I need a real game! We get the first game -- the Hall of Fame game -- which might be the most boring year in and year out, and now the preseason isn't good enough; where's the regular season?!
It's comical when I think about it, because it's the same routine. I guess the hunger for the season has to be fed in stages...
Anyhoo, the Rams have their third preseason game in a dress rehearsal tonight against the Denver Broncos. Starters will get a true extended look as most will likely not play in the final game. This means QB Jared Goff will get some true clock with the starters surrounding him. But it also means he'll play against one of the -- if not the -- best starting defenses in today's NFL. If you really want to get a good sense of where the rookie is in his progression, watch this game. Screw all the camp reports and hoopla that Rams Head Coach Jeff Fisher spews. Take off the blinders, and watch and be the judge for yourself. It's go time...
- Jared Goff will struggle. There's a lot of discussion about the reps he's getting against the Rams starting defense and how great of a learning tool that is. Constant discussions about how there aren't many units out there to face that could teach him more lessons. I call BS... First off, they're not even blowing on him yet alone actually hitting him. Secondly, I personally think the Rams defense will regress this year. And even if they don't, they're not even in the same stratosphere as the Broncos. That secondary is the best in the league, and the pass rush is top three yearly with what might be the best front seven in football. This will be Goff's true welcome to the NFL game. However, the flip side to that is he will get that welcome to the NFL game out the way in a meaningless preseason game... **wipes forehead**
- The Rams are still searching for an interception on defense this preseason. This will be where the search ends. This will happen for two reasons. One, the Rams defense gets to face Mark Sanchez, arguably the most turnover prone QB in the NFL today. I seriously can't wrap my mind around how he's still around getting shots but Vince Young couldn't even get a tryout the last five years. That's straight mind boggling. I'd take today's 36-year old Mike Vick over him any day.Then there's the Rams pass rush. Ummm, HELLOOOO!!! DE Robert Quinn's long awaited return is here. I can't be the only one excited about this. If you love football, you have to love watching this guy play. Considering he only played two and a half healthy games last season, it's going to be nice watching him and DT Aaron Donald destroy that line and force bad throws.
- The Rams' offensive line will not look too shabby. This will be the surprise of the night, hands down. As mentioned before, the Broncos front seven is no joke, but I expect the Rams' dominant run game to continue to shine. I don't think this is a fluke or just a preseason burst that will fade game one. The line has been opening some serious holes. It hasn't mattered what point in the game it is. First team on down, they've been moving bodies like the mob. OT Greg Robinson has looked like what they drafted him to be, which is awesome but that's expected from a former number two overall pick. He hasn't been the most impressive component though. No, that's been C Tim Barnes. Is it just me, or is he suddenly more physical than ever before? He's been blasting guys off the ball. This new Rams run game looks legit. Now let's hope Fisher doesn't try to get too cute during the season and mess it all up.
- TE Tyler Higbee will return as he and TEs Temmarick Hemingway and Lance Kendricks will have a really good game. They're going to combine for 15 catches and 141 yards and two touchdowns. The tight ends will be peppered with balls all game, as the receivers will be eliminated for most of the time that the Broncos starting secondary is on the field. Though both touchdowns will come in the fourth and will be thrown by QB Sean Mannion as he tries to lead the Rams to yet another epic fourth quarter comeback.
- The Rams will succeed in that comeback attempt. They're going to shut down the Broncos run game. In the process, they'll create a lot of third and long situations. After what this defensive line does to Sanchez and QB Trevor Siemian, the Broncos are going to just give the starting gig to Paxton Lynch and say to hell with this two-way QB battle. Rams win 27-23.
P.S. You're welcome Paxton Lynch, you owe us one...