The New York Giants are, finally, in London this morning as their Sunday morning matchup with the Los Angeles Rams draws closer. Let’s learn more about the Rams from Joe McAtee, editor of SB Nation’s Rams’ web site, Turf Show Times. Joe took the time to answer our “Five Questions” this week.
Ed: If I offered you a straight-up trade, Odell Beckham Jr. for Aaron Donald, would you take it? Why or why not?
Joe: Oh man, that's tough. As good as OBJ is (and as fun as he is for coverage), I'll stick with Donald only because I can't conceive of not having him. Plus, there's a good chance that if Odell were stuck in Fisherball, he'd be half the wide out he is with you guys and I'd hate to be complicit in a crime against humanity.
Ed: What's your feeling on the whole "playing in London" thing? Are Rams fans unhappy about losing a home game?
Joe: Somewhat. I think fans are more upset about losing all the other games (heyooooooooooooooooo). It goes back to something we started covering last year with the leaks that Rams head coach Jeff Fisher and GM Les Snead were getting a contract extension: winning football games is not the top priority for this franchise right now.
The culture at the top of the franchise (read: Owner Stan Kroenke and COO Kevin Demoff) doesn't value winning over everything else. There's much more interest in expanding the brand and marketing the team than improving the on-field product. It's why the Rams have committed to sacrifice a home game each of the next three seasons to play abroad. It's why they marketed the hell out of Todd Gurley this offseason to maximize his exposure ahead of rushing for a whopping 346 yards in the first six games this season. It's why they sought to be featured on HBO's Hard Knocks earlier this year. It's likely why they traded up to the No. 1 overall pick in the 2016 NFL Draft to take a QB and then sit him on the bench while some of his peers are starring through nearly the first half of the year.
My feeling on playing in London? I'm relatively ambivalent about it overall. I'm much less enthused that the Rams care more about hyping up the fact they're doing so instead of...winning more football games and offering some shred of accountability when they don't.
Ed: I find it hard to believe that Todd Gurley is averaging 2.9 yards per carry and doesn't have a run longer than 16 yards far. What's up with that?
Joe: THE RAMS ARE UP WITH THAT.
It's a combination of multiple factors. The offensive line isn't great, too often making little room for him to run. The scheme isn't great, too often asking him to run through crowded eight-man boxes or worse. The execution on his part isn't great, too often lacking the patience and/or vision to identify lanes.
Te one caveat I'd offer here is that for five weeks, we said that the Rams had to start taking advantage of opposing defenses shunting defenders into the front to keep a lid on Gurley by passing the ball around them. In Week 6, the Rams were offered the porous Detroit Lions defense and finally did just that - pass around them as QB Case Keenum had a career day going 27-32 for 321 yards, three passing TDs and a rushing TD en route to taking the franchise record for consecutive completions ... before throwing a game-ending interception on the Rams' final possession.
Until the threat of that happening again gets embedded into opposing defensive gameplans, it's going to be very hard for Todd Gurley to product the kind of numbers Rams fans anticipated ... and that the entire NFL machine sold fans on.
Ed: How long can Jeff Fisher and the Rams hold out before replacing Case Keenum at quarterback with Jared Goff?
Joe: Until time mathematically ends.
Jeff Fisher does not operate on a conventional logic equilibrium. He operates in the Nether, the Upside Down. He is the NFL's version of the multiverse, a validation of all of Schrödinger's work, of the Copenhagen interpretation.
Jared Goff is currently not playing and playing at the same time. He is both the Rams' No. 1 overall draft pick and never drafted.
Welcome to the many worlds, Giants fans.
Ed: If you could take one player off the Giants' roster -- other than Beckham -- and put him the Rams' lineup, who would it be? Why?
Joe: Odell is the obvious answer (and Sterling Shepard to a lesser degree) given the Rams' offensive struggles, but as I mentioned before I'm not certain their skills alone would be sufficient to re-align the Rams' entire offensive application. Ereck Flowers would be an option less because of the play of Ereck Flowers and more because of the play of Rams LT Greg Robinson. So I'm going to go with Kelvin Sheppard. The Rams have moved Alec Ogletree from OLB to MLB after cutting longtime Rams MLB James Laurinaitis early this calendar year. Sheppard would allow Tree to move back outside and help improve the run defense with some physicality the Rams are lacking from the linebacking group.