The Rams have made significant changes since their nightmare 4-12 return to Los Angeles. Those changes included the coaching staff, the locker room, organizational culture and the on field personnel. The Rams will come into the 2017 campaign with a serious new look, both physically with their new uniforms that pay homage to the fearsome foursome era of the franchise’s history and on paper, there is just a flat-out new look for the Rams. With that being said, let’s take a look at what exactly the Rams lost and gained this season.
The Rams lost more than 50% of their passing attack from last season in the form of receivers Kenny Britt and former second-round bust Brian Quick. The team didn’t exactly “lose” any one of these players, who the team just flat-out moved on from in the new era of Rams football. That list included a traded away William Hayes who didn’t fit the new defensive scheme in Wade Phillips system, Eugene Sims, Benny Cunningham, Tim Barnes who struggled mightily and E.J. Gaines who the Rams traded away to acquire Sammy Watkins.
With the lack of overall losses, the Rams had everything to gain, which they absolutely did. The new coaching staff didn’t just come in and right away install a new and improved game plan? No, they also added players like TE Gerald Everett, WR Cooper Kupp, WR Josh Reynolds, DT Tanzel Smart & LB’s Samson Ebukam and Ejuan Price in the draft. Not even just that, but the Rams signed 25-year old former Bills underutilized WR Robert Woods, consistently dominant left tackle Andrew Whitworth, a Wade Phillips guy in productive OLB Connor Barwin and two extremely talented CB’s in Nickell Robey-Coleman who destroyed the Rams last year and a possible under-the-radar future star in Kayvon Webster. Not only all of that but the Rams also wheeled and dealt for a possible elite, WR Sammy Watkins.
Well, for the first time in quite a bit the Rams don’t have a relative “need” at the wide receiver position due to the previously mentioned additions. Because of this, you can argue that the Rams are strong at the receiver position. With an underrated claiming of former Jaguar sixth-round pick Brandon Allen, the Rams have some strong depth at the QB position to go with first-overall pick Jared Goff and third-round pick Sean Mannion. On top of that, the Rams seemed to have found a nice group of tailbacks for the offense including first-round pick Todd Gurley and a pair of undrafted productive college players in Malcolm Brown and Justin Davis. The Rams also due to their addition of Wade Phillips have a guaranteed strength on the defense. Yes, Aaron Donald might miss some time with his holdout, but the Rams still have plenty of talent to succeed on defense. Mainly, the Rams have some big time help at QB, RB, WR and the defensive side of the ball.
First and foremost the Rams honestly have a weakness at the right guard position. Jamon Brown could be capable of filling it this season, but he also might not be able to. It doesn’t appear that the Rams have an amazing group of depth behind a starting line that is banking on a 35-year old to maintain the blindside and a left guard that never seems to stay healthy on top of a center that has issues staying healthy and a right tackle that has already been bothered with foot problems. Another weakness for the Rams? Inexperience. Yes, maybe it’s unfair to hold it against a 31-year old Head coach or a brand new look of a team, but the Rams have a ton of uncertainty. When you hear the “on paper” talk it sounds good, but in reality, no team ever plays true to what the paper says. The Rams are really banking on a ton of young talent that have either not produced anything yet in the NFL or very few things.
So, based on the assessment you would probably expect an 8-8 prediction correct? Nope, incorrect. The Rams are going to have the best coaching staff a young team with tons of turnover can have. Wade Phillips’ intelligence, experience, and overall game planning ability will win the Rams some games they may not have in the past. As for Sean McVay who is responsible for turning the Redskins into an offensive force to be reckoned with, he will lead this offense to an extreme 180 of a season on offense. With the help of coaches like QB coach Greg Olson and offensive coordinator Matt LaFleur, there is a good chance this offense really comes on strong towards the end of the year. The Rams are set to play one of the easiest schedules they have seen in a decade and I believe that the Rams are going to surprise people this season in their first real step towards the mainstream media attention.
The Rams will win 11 games. It will happen and they will just miss winning the division by a game behind one of NFL’s best teams the Seattle Seahawks. I have the Rams making the playoffs in one of the most incredible recent sports stories. Is Sean McVay all that great? This season will start eliminating the age doubters.