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2017 NFL Season Preview- Los Angeles Rams
In their first season back in Los Angeles, the Rams could not have been more of a disappointment. It was so bad, head coach Jeff Fisher was fired with three games left in the season and replaced by special teams coach John Fassel.
The team ranked dead last in scoring offense and total offense. Running back Todd Gurley never got on track playing against defensive fronts that didn't respect the passing game. The wide receiver corps was almost nonexistent. Kenny Britt had 1,002 yards receiving, but was extremely inefficient and the rest of the group struggled with drops and limited routes called. For the second year in a row, the tight ends underachieved in the passing game. For the third straight year, the offensive line was a disaster as tackle Greg Robinson is starting to look like a bust.
Despite of the defense's struggles, the defensive line remains one of the best in the league. Middle linebacker Alec Ogletree made a smooth transition, moving outside to inside and lead the team in tackles. Mark Barron was second on the team in tackles playing as a safety/linebacker hybrid. Due to lack of depth at linebacker, the Rams played five or six defensive backs for much of the year.
Even with their poor record, the Rams produced three Pro Bowlers in defensive tackle Aaron Donald, punter Johnny Hecker, and long snapper Jake McQuaide. Donald has established himself as the best interior pass rusher in the game and Hecker broke his own league record for net average with 46 yards.
The rookie class has a lot to prove in year two. Quarterback Jared Goff couldn't beat out journeyman quarterback Case Keenum until the season was already lost and finished the year completing 54.6 percent of his passes with five touchdowns and seven interceptions. Tight end Tyler Higbee never developed into the big play threat the Rams hoped and finished with just 11 catches. Wide receiver Pharoh Cooper has a lot of athleticism but dealt with injuries for much of the season.
Opponent Passing Yards
Opponent Rushing Yards
NFL Rank- 31st
NFL Rank- 31st
NFL Rank- 10th
NFL Rank- 16th
NFL Rank- Last
NFL Rank- 9th
With a 4-12 record and the worst offense in the league, the Rams hired former Washington Redskins offensive coordinator Sean McVay to be the new head coach. McVay's offense in Washington ranked third in total offense and 12th in scoring offense last season. The team also hired former Atlanta Falcons quarterback coach Matt LaFleur to be the new offensive coordinator and hired former Denver Broncos defensive coordinator Wade Phillips to the same position.
Notable Additions- QB Dan Orlovsky, RB Lance Dunbar, WR Robert Woods, T Andrew Whitworth, OLB Connor Barwin
Notable Departures- QB Case Keenum, RB, Tre Mason, WR Kenny Britt, WR Brian Quick, WR Stedman Bailey, T Greg Robinson, S TJ McDonald
Aaron Donald Highlights
2017 NFL Draft
Since the team traded their 2017 first round pick to Tennessee last year so they could trade up to draft Jared Goff, the Rams didn't have a pick until day two. Even with no first round pick, the team still has noticeable holes at wide receiver, offensive lineman, and linebacker.
Kenny Britt is now in Cleveland and there isn't a receiver on the roster who gives defenses nightmares. Los Angeles needs a true number one receiver.
The offensive line needs a complete overhaul. Other than tackle Rob Havenstein, no one's roster spot should be safe on this unit.
The depth behind Alec Ogletree and Mark Barron is embarrassing. The linebackers need more bodies in order to play Wade Phillips' 3-4 defense.
With their second round pick, the Rams selected South Alabama tight end Gerald Everett. Everett has great acceleration for a tight end but he is undersized for the position.
The Rams also notably drafted Eastern Washington wide receiver Cooper Kupp in the third round and Texas A&M wide receiver Josh Reynolds in the fourth. Kupp was viewed as the top route running receiver in the draft but lacks the speed and dexterity to create separation on go routes. Reynolds has the long length and strides of a track star but his this frame leaves him susceptible to being knocked off routes.
Gerald Everett Highlights
What to Expect
After last season, things can only get better for Los Angeles.
Under Sean McVay, the Rams offense should vastly improve. McVay turned Kirk Cousins into a Pro Bowl quarterback, so he should be able to do wonders with Jared Goff. The Rams offense needs to be focused around Todd Gurley. Is Goff can make plays with his arm, it will take less pressure off the run game and open up holes for Gurley. Cooper Kupp and Josh Reynolds have the ability to dominate the outside which will open up plays in the slot for Tavon Austin. Adding Andrew Whitworth gives the offense to solid tackles which should help in pass protection.
The defense will be interesting to watch under Wade Phillips. Even in a 3-4 set, the defensive line should still be one of the NFL's best. Moving Robert Quinn to linebacker and adding Connor Barwin solidifies the linebacker corps. The main concern will be the secondary with the team needing to find a reliable replacement for TJ McDonald at safety.
Even with the coaching staff under new management, the strength of Seattle and Arizona keeps the Rams from competing for a playoff spot. Not to mention the whole at the interior offensive line and secondary, the team looks to be a year away from making some noise in the NFC.
Best record they can hope for: 7-9