The Los Angeles Rams will need some young guys on offense to take some serious strides if they want to compete this year. The defense will thrive, especially under new defensive coordinator Wade Phillips. They can only carry so much of the burden, though. Let’s look at some of the decisions they’ll have to make.
Analysis: The Rams only have two quarterbacks on the roster. This year is the Goff show. All he needs to do is stay in his lane and go the speed limit this year. Last year, he was swerving at every rodent in sight and never found his groove. He didn’t have help, but Goff wasn’t good last year. If he’s competent in his second year, that’s an upgrade.
Analysis: Like Goff, Gurley has to get better. The offensive line wasn’t good, either. Both can be better. Gurley needs to be more patient. He leaves yards on the field by running up the backs of his blockers. He’s too talented not to have a carry over 25 yards. Brown isn’t a bad complement. Dunbar is just a guy. This backfield is all about Gurley getting back to the player from the first half of his rookie year.
Analysis: The Rams drafted receivers in the third and fourth rounds for obvious reasons. Last years rookies didn’t cut it. Reynolds and Kupp are improvements. I’m higher on Reynolds than most and believe he could be the team’s best target by season’s end. The Rams likely will carry extra receivers and give somebody the opportunity to step up. Woods shouldn’t be a team’s No. 2 receiver, but that’s where he is as of today. Austin is fine. But he’s not a guy you look for on third downs. Hopefully, Reynolds can be that guy.
Analysis: Higbee has the size and athleticism a team wants at tight end. Everett has the size. The two should pair well together. They won’t exactly be the duo the New England Patriots had a few years ago but these two should be serviceable. Hemingway is an ideal third tight end. Everett should be the underneath option while Higbee gives the Rams the ability down the seam.
Analysis: Trading away Greg Robinson was a surprise to the outside world but he just didn’t stand a chance of getting on the field. Another surprise was not selecting an offensive lineman in the draft, considering how poor this unit was last year. Members of the coaching staff did say they would like to coach guys up, so this is their opportunity. Whitworth will be a major upgrade and the best lineman on the team in some time. The team needs Havenstein and Brown to take the next step in their development.
Analysis: Having the best interior defensive lineman in the NFL takes all kinds of pressure off, no matter the scheme or the play that’s called. Phillips will have a field day with the looks he can get with Donald. If Brockers and Easley stay healthy, this should be a good front. I also believe the switch should help Westbrooks.
Analysis: Football deserves a healthy season of Quinn. He’s a joy to watch. Phillips will do wonders with him as well. Barwin is the ideal No. 2 rusher. Price, though undersized, could make some noise because he has shown he can get after the passer.
Analysis: Barron was inconsistent last year. He seemed like he was all or nothing. He’s not a true linebacker but this seems to suit him better than safety did. Ogletree was not good last year. He is just hyped off draft status and name at this point. Forrest was the other linebacker before injury but wasn’t the most decisive linebacker. This entire unit could be upgraded.
Analysis: Johnson is one of the more underrated players at the position. Just a matter of him staying on the field. In Phillips’ aggressive man scheme, he should get back to where he was in 2015. Joyner is interesting. Will he get more looks at safety under Phillips? Does the position even matter? He’ll likely be in the box or in the slot either way. The addition of Robey-Coleman and Webster gives the Rams more flexibility.
Analysis: Johnson is a rookie but a smart football player and comes from a team that continuously had great defenses. In limited action, Davis didn’t seem like he could be trusted with more snaps. He’s a special teamer. Alexander isn’t spectacular but he’s solid and that’s fine. The lack of depth or talent makes sense for Joyner to transition back to his college position.
Analysis: The Rams had the third-best special teams unit last year and primarily because of Hekker and their punting unit. Zuerlein held his own as well. The team could stand to be better in the return game, however.
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