The NFL.com divisional and team training camp previews are out and today they dissected the rebuilding NFC West. As the rookies report a week from today on July 26th), the Los Angeles Rams must develop their young pass catchers:
Training camp report dates: rookies (July 26) and veterans (July 28).
Location: University of California, Irvine, California.
Most important position battle: Two rookie pass-catchers? The Rams under Jeff Fisher did a comprehensibly awful job developing their gaggle of young targets on offense. Thankfully, new coach Sean McVay arrives from Washington with a reputation for maximizing his pass-catchers. He'll need to make that happen right away with rookie tight end Gerald Everett and first-year receiver Cooper Kupp, who both have a legitimate shot to start. With a good camp, Kupp figures to play in the slot alongside Robert Woods and Tavon Austin. The Rams like what they see so far, with offensive coordinator Matt LaFleur saying of Kupp: "He's an extremely polished route runner, got great hands. You can tell he works at his craft each and every day. He does a great job." Everett, meanwhile, will try to fend off an inexperienced tight end group after the Rams let Lance Kendricks walk. With McVay leaning heavily on the position, Everett and veteran Tyler Higbee should both see meaningful action out of the gate.
The expectations of McVay are relatively low considering the dumpster fire that was Jeff Fisher. With some input into the draft, the Rams are likely going to lean on some rookies to contribute.
Newcomer to watch: Head coach Sean McVay. "Hard Knocks" and "All or Nothing" revealed a team somewhat lost under Fisher, the longtime coach who made a cottage industry of going 7-9 with the milquetoast Rams. No more. McVay hits the scene as an exuberant, boyish, Gruden-esque leader with plenty on his plate. We'll touch on the development of passer Jared Goff below, but it goes beyond the quarterback. The Rams' offense has been an unwatchable mess for years. McVay was brought to Los Angeles to grow Goff, revive running back Todd Gurley and fully jumpstart the attack while handing the keys on defense to wily, defensive sensei Wade Phillips. It will be fascinating to watch how McVay -- just 31 -- handles the pressure of Hollywood.
What a change of culture from one of the oldest, more “old-school” coaches in Jeff Fisher to the youngest head coach in NFL history. McVay has been constantly compared to his sensei, Jon Gruden. Now, he has the opportunity to prove it as the head man.
Looming camp question: Jared Goff ready to rise? Spin it any way you please. Goff was a massive disappointment as a rookie. That had plenty to do with the under-performing players around him, but Goff was slow to learn the offense in camp and never looked ready for prime time when he finally hit the field. We ask rookie quarterbacks to develop overnight -- an unfair demand -- but there must be tangible growth from Goff come September. Anything less and fans will pounce on this second-year player in a hurry.
Jared Goff was not very good last year. He’s shown some progress and whether it be lip service or not, the new staff consistently has praised him arm talent and ability to grasp the concepts so far.
The Rams success is going to depend on a 31-year old head coach and lackluster (so far) number one overall pick turning things around in the city of angels and through the ups and downs.
Let’s see how it shakes out in training camp this year.