Andy Benoit of MMQB has his 10 things you need to know about the 2017 Los Angeles Rams with the season fast approaching.
1. Jared Goff’s rookie season should be analyzed with a few grains of salt. He wasn’t ready to play, but with practice time so limited in today’s NFL, he had to play in order to get the first team reps.
Obviously, the circumstances for the young QB were terrible. He had a coaching staff that was stuck in the stone ages, an offensive line that was terrible, a non-existing running game, and WR’s that barely made any plays. The positive thing about Goff was that even though he and the offense struggle mightily, he never faltered physically.
He continued to stand in the pocket, take the inevitable beating, and continued to sling it relentlessly. Luckily for Goff and the Rams, that’s all in the past. Goff got valuable NFL reps, developed some chemistry, and is now the solidified #1 QB throughout the entire offseason.
The real test comes this year.
2. The offensive line has been reshuffled drastically.
With the Rams paying big money for stud LT Andrew Whitworth, signing veteran C John Sullivan, moving former RT to RG Rob Havenstein, and moving former RG Jamon Brown to RT, there sure has been some major shuffling across the OL, and deservedly so. They were terrible last season. Let’s hope it pays dividends.
3. With a revamped O-line, Todd Gurley should be better.
Yes, he should, and he will. Last season he struggled, but the OL did him no favors.
4. When McVay was designing plays as the offensive coordinator in Washington, he had the game’s best pure receiving tight end, Jordan Reed.
Now he has very talented second-year TE Tyler Higbee and 2nd-round pick Gerald Everett. Both great athletes known to be good receiving tight ends, they should be heavily involved.
5. There isn’t a single mismatch-making piece in the passing game.
Benoit’s not wrong here. Hopefully the WR trio of Robert Woods, rookie Cooper Kupp and Tavon Austin can muster enough to pick this offense up a bit. I wouldn’t expect any major production from any of the three though.
6. Know this about Los Angeles’s defense: it has a lot of speed at all three levels.
Yes. Yes it does. Aaron Donald is the fastest DT in history, OLB Robert Quinn is one of the fastest edge rushers in the league when healthy, ILBs Alec Ogletree and Mark Barron make one of the most athletic LB groups in the league, and it’s rounded out by a DB group that doesn’t have any liabilities.
7. Wade Phillips is as respected as any defensive coordinator in football, but one whisper about him across the league is that he can be predictable in coverage against untraditional two-receiver formations.
With how athletic the Rams LB’s are, I wouldn’t think of this to be too much of an issue. The Rams have always had a stingy defense.
8. Don’t worry about Aaron Donald transitioning to a new position in Wade Phillips’s “3-4.” It’s not really a 3-4; Phillips plays what amounts to an aggressive “4-3-under” scheme out of a 5-2 structure. That means one-gap assignments for most players. It’ll be interesting to see how often Donald aligns as a three-technique and how often he aligns as a five-technique (the position J.J. Watt played for Phillips in Houston).
This is regurgitated info, but reassuring nonetheless. If anyone is still worried about Aaron Donald, please don’t be. He’s the most dominant defensive player in the league (maybe the best player in the NFL), and Wade Phillips is the best DC in football. His game will only get better.
9. It’s a big year for Robert Quinn.
Yes it is. Quinn was formerly the best pass rusher in the NFL, now with injuries taking a toll, he hasn’t exactly been the same player. There’s a TON of optimism for Quinn, especially for me. Quinn will play the “DeMarcus Ware” role at WLB, and if there’s anyone to benefit from this defense it’s him. Now, I hate to bring this up, but if things falter for Quinn again, he could be a cap casualty next offseason with over 11M+ savings.
10. The secondary will make or break this defense.
Not sure I’d go this far, because in my opinion games are won and lost in the trenches, but sure, the secondary will be important. With Tru and Kayvon Webster outside, and Maurice Alexander and Lamarcus Joyner on the backend, the Rams look to be in good hands. Also, Nickell Robey-Coleman will prove to be one of the best signings in the league as a 25-year old CB who excels in the slot and is signed for under $1m dollars.