In the first of a series of articles leading us to the new season, we find out what you think about our team and its future!
I’m Robert Docherty from Scotland and I’ve been a Rams fan for 30 + years. I just missed the Eric Dickerson days when I started getting into the Rams, but I was a BIG Jim Everett fan. (Don’t call him Chris by the way! lol) For you younger guys there’s some great footage on youtube of Everett to Ellard, his main wide receiver.
I started following the Rams as they were an exciting team to watch back in the late 80’s, but they always seemed to be the underdog in the playoffs. Everybody loves to root for the underdog, but enough about me!
Over the last 12 months or so, this team has gone through the biggest transition period I can remember! Relocation, big bold trade up in the draft to pick Jared Goff, moving on from head coach Jeff Fisher and his team of coaches, appointing the youngest coach in the league, appointing one of the more mature defensive coordinators and in amongst all that this offseason, we have saw quite a large turnover of players as well.
Well after all that, this offseason looks like the best place to pick up this transitioning team. Let me stress that most of this is just my two cents worth mixed in with my hopes for a young team!
Let me start at the top…
New head coach – Sean McVay is now the youngest head coach in the league. I think most folks who follow the NFL will say that McVay has a good football background with both his father and grandfather being involved with the game. McVay’s grandfather was general manager of the San Francisco 49ers (but that’s enough about the ’49ers already lol).
The McVay’s family are also good friends with the Gruden family (John and Jay might ring a bell?), but needless to say a strong footballing background… In recent years Sean McVay being offence coordinator with the Washington Redskins has carved a franchise QB out of Kirk Cousins and had their offence under his scheme, playing as one of the better ones in the league. That is until this offseason when we stepped in and plucked this guy to be our new head coach.
One note of caution is that historically young Head Coaches in the NFL have not done well, so hopefully, McVay can break that mould!
New defensive coordinator – Wade Phillips, I personally think that this was a sterling acquisition as this guy only leaves top 5 defences in his wake when he moves on. if I can draw your attention to the Denver Broncos who won the Super Bowl in 2016, that defence took them to the final and won it (or was certainly the dominant side of the ball for them) that was a Wade Philips 3-4 defence, which we are currently changing to this offseason. Philips unlike McVay is a more mature coach and being in his 70’s I like the contrast of young and old here.
Last new coach I’d like to mention is Offensive coordinator – Matt LaFleur, formally the Falcons QB coach LaFleur had his best season coaching when the Atlanta Falcons went to the Super Bowl last season. My short take on this guy is that in the last couple of seasons this guy helped to get the best football, Matt Ryan has played out of him (albeit in a Kyle Shanahan offence) Both LaFleur and McVay previously have ties to the Redskins so this could have played a part here. Anyway, the plan is simple here a QB minded offence coordinator is put in place here to hopefully progress Goff…
Now on to the current offseason:
Free agency was interesting for us as it was easy to see the team’s new offensive approach. I love the pickup of Andrew Whitworth (wish he was a little younger), as at 35 he’s nearing the end of what has been a great career at LT. Still this guy is the epitome of a LT and hopefully, we will get a couple of seasons from him at a high level.
Next up, Robert Woods. This guy was the Buffalo Bills leading WR last year on what was a run first Bills team. I’m hoping that this guy will blossom if given more targets and he has been outspoken saying “I believe I’m a number one wide recover in this league”. Woods for the Bills did his best stuff from the slot but should start for us (Hope he’s right) as it’s the gaping hole in our offence, a number one wide receiver.
The two players above were our notable pickups. We also added John Sullivan who will start for us at Centre. Coming off a back injury he didn’t play much for the Redskins last season but did have some very good years with the Vikings with Adrian Peterson having his best years behind him. Again, it’s an upgrade for us at centre and we may get a couple of good season from him, but probably a ‘stopgap’ at best.
Moving to the 3-4 and looking thin at linebacker we picked up Conner Barwin, again a veteran, but a guy who had his best years with Wade Philips at Houston. I feel he brings a good veteran presence to the team and a guy who already knows our new scheme. Look for this guy to get after the QB and mentor some of our young talent.
Next up, Kayvon Webster, again a guy well known to Wade Philips who played under him at Denver. More of a package guy for Denver, but a young guy who could push EJ Gaines for a starting cornerback job and knowing the Philips system could give him an edge. I like this pick up and this guy has said he feels he could start.
The last ‘free agent’ I’ll mention is Nickell Robey-Coleman, a nickel cornerback for the Bills the last few seasons. (You may remember this guy picking a pass off from Goff and taking it back for 6 last seasons) – let’s not hold that against him just yet. Good solid pick up here as with Lamarcus Joyner moving to free safety this guy should slot in at nickel fine. My take is sound pick up that meets a need and a young guy who already has some playing experience.
Now on to the draft:
(I’ll only speak about my take on the first few pickups as these guys are all of course unproven)
Tight End – Gerald Everett pass catching hybrid wide receiver. Weapon for Goff, the take on this guy is he has good hands, but can also make things happen after the catch. Tight ends feature big in McVay offence.
Wide Receiver – Cooper Kupp has great hands and great route running. Works best out of the slot and could quickly become Goffs BFF 🙂 I think the ceiling could be very high for this guy. He’s not the fastest but can cut on a dime and uses his body well… Analysts have said this guy could have the most catches of all rookies – so let’s see.
Safety – John Johnson – I feel this was a need meets value pick. With the loss of TJ McDonald we were starting to look thin at safety. He is tabbed as having good cover skills and can also play all over the secondary. Looks like a versatile player in an area we need to rebuild.
Wide Receiver – Josh Reynolds – At the time I liked this pick as this guy I felt could really meet a need for us. He has size, speed and can just go up and get the ball, finally, ( I said) “a deep threat”.
Whether this guy can turn into a true number one only time will tell, but another weapon for Goff and one to stretch the park.
The other rookies hoping to make the team:
- Samson Ebukam, OLB, Eastern Washington
- Tanzel Smart, DT, Tulane
- Sam Rogers, FB, Virginia Tech
- Ejuan Price, OLB, Pittsburgh
Anyway, I’d like to end this with my take on the ‘Up and Coming’ season:
It’s easy to see that the team is going in a new direction with more emphasis on the offence, Jared Goff will be at the centre of this with Todd Gurley beside him.
Already the front office and new coaches are starting to accumulate the pieces to help the offence succeed. We may see less attention on the defence, but I hope that just means that the team will be more balanced. Going forward the defence will still be the key for the Los Angeles Rams at least for the next couple of seasons.
This year I hope for improvement and from what I’ve seen in the offseason, I feel this team could turn a corner and maybe, just maybe an 8-8 season.
Anyway….. that’s my two cents!
Thank you very much for taking the time to read this and GO Rams!!