Something happened tonight in the first half of the Los Angeles Rams’ game against the Oakland Raiders, the Rams’ second game of the 2017 preseason.
I’m not sure what it was.
Was it the beginning of the Sean McVay era, an era to be defined by offensive playcalling that maximizes his roster’s talent across all available opportunities while avoiding any emphasis on the deficiencies? Maybe.
Was it the first legitimate signs of QB Jared Goff turning into a reliable NFL QB? Perhaps.
Was it a coming out party for an offense that offers just enough new names (WR Cooper Kupp, LT Andrew Whitworth, WR Sammy Watkins, TE Gerald Everett, WR Robert Woods) that the 2016 offense’s output as a function of personnel could be something disregarded sooner rather than later? Not entirely impossible.
The play of the defense is entirely unimportant tonight. Playing without DE Aaron Donald, OLB Robert Quinn, ILB Mark Barron, CB Kayvon Webster and CB Nickell Robey-Coleman requires a reconfiguration of the starting defense that you could have argued it was perhaps best to sit the other projected Week 1 starters.
No, tonight was about the offense. It looked...not bad. Not great, but the Rams don’t need to be great on offense. They just need to be not bad for now. And tonight was just that.
Goff wasn’t asked to do anything terribly difficult, outside of a well-timed out to TE Tyler Higbee and a wonderful deep pass to Watkins that didn’t connect. For the rest of his work, he diligently went about going through his reads and taking advantage of the separation his targets were finding. The sole blip was a dropback in which he took a bit too much time and Raiders DE Khalil Mack was all to willing to suggest why that wasn’t wise with a crunching sack. After that? Goff learned his lesson, which is as positive a compliment as you can provide for such a young QB.
Look, it’s the second preseason game. Let’s not buy anything based on what we’ve seen here tonight. It wasn’t everything. But it is something.
And unlike what Amazon’s show would have you believe, for most NFL teams, this isn’t an all or nothing exercise. There are a hell of a lot of somethings.
Tonight we saw something. And if things work out under McVay, tonight could be the night we point back to as the first signs of what was to come.