Los Angeles Rams QB Jared Goff and Head Coach Sean McVay have been dominating Rams news lately.
McVay is apparently not old enough to tell football players how not to suck, and Goff has looked like a QB who could be worthy of a number one overall draft pick. The partnership between the two has fans and some analysts frothing at the mouth to say how great he is going to be this year. But is Goff the most important player for the Rams 2017 season, playoff aspirations, and beyond?
To me, a player’s importance goes beyond just being the team’s best player. Position, experience or inexperience, and roster depth are some of those factors. There’s really only a couple of Rams that jump out as being the most important for 2017. Goff, RB Todd Gurley and DE Aaron Donald are sure to dominate the conversation but still aren't most important.
Friends, LT Andrew Whitworth is the Rams’ most important player.
I don’t think its the boldest statement of the year. Many strong arguments can be made for Goff, Donald, or Gurley, but instead of getting into great detail on why they aren't more important than Whitworth, I’m going to gas up the Rams new left tackle and what he means to this team.
You all know about how good Whitworth is and the accolades he brings with him from the Cincinnati Bengals. The 35-year old left tackle was the Rams’ biggest offseason player addition (I haven't forgotten you, McBae), literally and figuratively. Not only is he protecting the Rams’ franchise QB, he’s protecting his development along with the hopes and dreams of the franchise.
On the surface, it could look odd signing an aging LT with a lot of miles, good as he still may be (he is), unless the team thinks they are really close to becoming legitimate contenders. Whether the Rams realize it or not and whether you agree the Rams are in the playoff mix, Whitworth’s worth to the team is far greater than keeping defenders away from Goff and clearing holes for Gurley.
The quarterback position is the most influential in all of professional sports. It gets people fired, hired, makes people cry, die, fly, say goodbye, bake a pie....you get the point. So if you have so much invested into a position, and a player struggling to adapt to the NFL what do you do? For starters, you find yourself an Andrew Whitworth.
Considering 2016, this year is critical for Goff and the Rams to figure out the NFL game, and if he can play in it. Whitworth is the best insurance policy to “accurately” and “fairly” judge Goff this year. We saw how awful it was last year behind LT Greg Robinson and a patchwork offensive line. By most estimations, it wasn’t fair to be overly critical of Goff and other offensive player’s because of that and
other factors Jeff Fisher.
Leaving Goff to fend for himself behind a line with OT Pace Murphy, Robinson, any rookie, or whoever the hell else at LT would be a disservice to the QB and to the Rams. If they did, we’d wonder for another year what Goff could do behind a legitimate offensive line. What the Rams receivers could do with a QB who had time. What a RB could do with a mammoth human person mover. With Whitworth, they have set themselves up to find out the answer to most, if not all, of those questions sooner rather than later. It would be a shame and a nightmare if he was forced to miss any time, considering the internal roster options along the line. Which is another reason why he is so important.
McVay and Goff deserve much of the credit to the early positive signs Goff is showing in preseason games. We’re starting to see the positive effects of change this offense desperately needed. At this point, its a bit of a chicken and egg situation amongst the players to why its happening. A left tackle can’t make reads and throws for the QB, but he can provide the security to do so. And that is so damn important for this Rams team.
Andrew Whitworth, hold me now.
Who is the most important player for the 2017 Rams?
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