The Rams’ new identity was evident from day one of the new year. A new head coach in Sean Mcvay was just the first drop that sent the ripple-effect throughout the organization.
There ought to be more energy in the building too, as the ebullient 31-year-old McVay attempts to shock some life back into a franchise that’s won fewer than eight games a season for 10 consecutive years.
A pair of new coordinators followed. A laundry list of new players added through free agency or the draft not long after.
Soon the Rams became almost unrecognizable from the roster standpoint. The best offensive lineman was no longer the guy who just sucked the least. It became someone with experience and actual talent. It was LT Andrew Whitworth.
The offensive line as a whole has yet shake it’s bad reputation as among the league’s worst, but Whitworth’s addition was a solid step forward in the right direction. The Rams of old, under Jeff Fisher, would likely have stuck by LT Greg Robinson’s side.
The move was so competent, I almost couldn’t believe it was done by the Rams. But the moves on offense didn’t stop there. Enter WR Sammy Watkins, WR Robert Woods, and draft picks WR Cooper Kupp, WR Josh Reynolds, and TE Gerald Everett.
All this new talent, combined with a totally new passing offense, and the Rams—especially Goff—may be hard to recognize in 2017. That’s the hope, anyway.
And that’s just one side of the ball.
Back on defense, the Rams brought in more corners with experience and talent, and added LB Connor Barwin, who operates well in a 3-4 defense and can be an extra teaching piece to his teammates.
Kayvon Webster will start opposite Trumaine Johnson. Another experienced player familiar with defensive coordinator Wade Phillips and his 3-4 hybrid defense.
Will all of the changes equate to more wins in 2017 or even a winning season? No. If the preseason showed us anything, it’s that the Rams are ways off before they can be considered playoff hopefuls.
The offensive line is still shaky. The defense is still adjusting.
But the changes are impossible to ignore. The offense is passing the ball further than 10 yards down the field. The running game looks like it returned. Tavon Austin is no longer the single dynamic piece of the offense.
While Mcvay is known for helping turn one offense around (see Washington), Wade Phillips is known for turning around several. The Rams defense should be no different. Phillips can adapt his defenses to his players and can make them almost unrecognizable a year later (see Houston Texans, Denver Broncos).
The overall turnaround is in motion, but the process has just begun. The 2017 should not be seen as the year the Rams start winning, but the year they lay the groundwork for the future.