The 2016 Los Angeles Rams were a disaster.
They went 4-12. They ruined their homecoming to Los Angeles. They put further question marks on WR Tavon Austin, OT Greg Robinson and DE Robert Quinn while slew-footing the potential of their young offensive stars in RB Todd Gurley and QB Jared Goff. They fired their head coach, Jeff Fisher, amid off-field embarrassment and on-field...well, embarrassment.
So General Manager Les Snead had plenty of material to address when he stepped to the mic at the 2017 NFL Scouting Combine just now.
The first topic to address? The color of the Rams’ face masks.
Look, it’s great that the Rams are involving fans in the evolution of this year’s uniform design even if in the scope of things it’s a ploy as they work to design new uniforms instead of going back to the blue and yellow uniforms that an overwhelming majority of the fan base wants. But as our own Sean Wilkinson addressed in the decision last night with the news, perhaps there are more important things for the Rams right now:
This screams all of the wrong things that we already new with this team. Image matters more than substance. Uniforms matter more than personnel evaluations. Fan excitement matters more than fiscal responsibility.
The Rams need to get their damn priorities straight.
With the substance trumped by style in the first damn question, Snead began addressing the actual iniquity of the franchise as it stands.
RB Todd Gurley? “A sophomore slump” that bears shared responsibility between Gurley, the O-line and everyone else involved.
Snead said CB Trumaine Johnson was tagged for the second year in a row to “see if he’s a long-term fit under [new Defensive Coordinator] Wade [Phillips]’s system.” That’s just...weak. They’re paying Tru more than any other CB in the NFL just to see if he can play well in his sixth NFL season under a new DC? How are they unable to evaluate his performance ahead of time? The logic here doesn’t make sense. How could the Rams possibly draft any defensive players if the only way to know if they fit is to play them? Maybe the NFL will let us have every defensive prospect for one year to find out. We’ll just pay each of them more than anyone else in the NFL at their position. Sounds fair to me.
Snead talked then about TE Tyler Higbee and said he “got behind” because of injuries. Which seems strange because he played in every single game and I’m not even sure he was on an injury report this season, though I might not be remembering this correctly. Nonetheless, Snead said to “expect big things” from Higbee which sets the bar awfully high for a guy who had 11 catches for 85 yards in the NFL’s worst offense a year ago.
Snead confirmed that WR Kenny Britt will hit the free agency market and is all but sure to sign elsewhere. Note that Britt was the Rams’ first wide receiver to log 1,000 receiving yards in a season since Torry Holt in 2007.
In talking about the offensive line, Snead was a bit flabbergasted. He offered no definitives, but to be fair, there aren’t many to offer except that the line was awful last year. To throw out your rookie franchise QB with a line that performs that poorly is asking for Goff to take on some kind of injury. There’s no doubt that turnover is coming for the line as Snead used some mathematics (“addition”, “subtraction”, “logarithmic differentials” (ok, he didn’t say the last one)) to suggest that either through the draft or free agency, change is coming to the O-line.
And Snead did confirm the Rams are moving to a 3-4 defense under Phillips, though in discussing DT Aaron Donald he did mention a use of a 4-man front “more than 50% of the time” so there may be little difference in application than the 4-3 nickel base we’re used to seeing.
The transcript should be up soon. Rams HC Sean McVay comes up in about a half hour.