Week 9 of the 2017 NFL season will find the New York Giants coming off a bye week and hosting the Los Angeles Rams. The Giants will see a much different Rams team than the one they defeated in London last season. Let’s take a closer look.
Rams In 2016
NFC West: 3rd
Offense: 32nd in points scored and yards allowed
Defense: 23rd in points allowed, ninth in yards allowed
vs. Giants: Week 7, 17-10 loss (in London)
RB Lance Dunbar, WR Robert Woods, OT Andrew Whitworth, C John Sullivan, LB Connor Barwin, CB Kayvon Webster
QB Case Keenum, RB Benny Cunningham, WR Kenny Britt, WR Brian Quick, TE Lance Kendricks, PK Greg Zuerlein, S T.J. McDonald
- Round 2 (No. 44) — Gerald Everett, TE
- Round 3 (No. 69) — Cooper Kupp, WR
- Round 3 (No. 91) — John Johnson, S
- Round 4 (No. 117) — Josh Reynolds, WR
- Round 4 (No. 125) — Samson Ebukam, LB
- Round 6 (No. 189) — Tanzel Smart, DT
- Round 6 (No. 206) — Sam Rogers, FB
- Round 7 (No. 234) — Ejuan Price, DE
Three Questions About The Rams
Ed: What is your favorite thing that the Rams accomplished this offseason?
Brandon: I'd have to say assembling (what appears to be) a competent coaching staff. As a Rams' fan, I've seen my fair share of ineptitude from coaching staffs over the past decade -- especially when it comes to the offensive side of the football.
Acquiring Wade Phillips was a great get, but I'm more excited about having landed (HC) Sean McVay, (OC) Matt LaFleur, and (QB's) Greg Olson. It's no secret that the Rams are a perennial dumpster fire on offense. And the Rams have invested far too much draft stock on offense (i.e. Jared Goff, Todd Gurley) in recent years to watch it simply waste away. Hopefully, with a young offensive-minded head coach and offensive coordinator, the Rams can begin to turn things around on offense and not force Johnny Hekker onto the field after three busted plays.
Ed: What is the one thing they did not accomplish, or that happened to them, that has you the most concerned?
Brandon: Aside from making Trumaine Johnson the highest paid cornerback in football, and the ongoing negotiations of trying to ink Aaron Donald to a long-term deal (something they simply have to do), my main concern(s) still lie on the offensive side of the ball.
The offensive line has been the Rams' Achilles heel in recent years. Sure, they signed a new offensive line coach (Aaron Kromer), acquired LT Andrew Whitworth in free agency, and sent Greg Robinson packing. But outside of that I still have concerns; not only about health, but ability to get the job done. Kromer saw youth/potential in the current crop of players, so outside of signing Whitworth, the Rams only acquired 31-year old John Sullivan from Washington and former Colt Austin Blythe; both of which were backup centers for their respective teams. They didn't use a single draft pick to address the line.
There's no denying that Whitworth is a huge upgrade over Greg Robinson. But LG Rodger Saffold is oft-injured, the center position is far from solidified, and the right side of the line looks to be Rob Havenstein and Jamon Brown -- third year players who battled injuries last season, who'll both be taking on new roles at RG and RT, respectively, this season.
Shifting things around was necessary. Whether or not they've got the right players in a position that allows them - and thus the offense - to succeed, remains to be seen.
Ed: Are you optimistic that this will be a good season for the Rams or pessimistic that a down year might be coming?
Brandon: Am I optimistic? Yes. Am I optimistic that the upcoming year is going to be a successful one? Not so much.
As aforementioned, I'm very pleased with the staff the Rams built this offseason. I'm also pleased with several of the low key (and low priced) free agent signings that could play pivotal roles for the team in the upcoming year. That said, I think it's unfair to assume that a first year head coach turns things around in one offseason.
McVay lead a high-powered offense in Washington ... but the Redskins' comparisons - whether it be player specific or offensive production as a whole - are a stretch. Tavon Austin isn't going to become DeSean Jackson, thinking rookie TE Gerald Everett can step in and become Jordan Reed is asking a lot, and the Rams simply aren't going to go from a league low 262 yards of offense per game to 400+. The arrow is pointing up for a lot of reasons, but these things take time.
For Rams' fans, the future looks much brighter than it did this time last year. But I'm going to have to see 8 wins (which they haven't accomplished since 2006) to believe it.
When the Giants saw the Rams in Week 7 last season, Case Keenum was still the quarterback and Jeff Fisher still the head coach. Neither of those things is the case heading into 2017.
Jared Goff, No. 1 overall pick in the 2016 NFL Draft, got the call late last season and the Rams will spend the 2017 season learning whether or not they made a smart choice. Fisher was fired late in the season 31-year-old Sean McVay, youngest head coach in modern NFL history, is now at the helm.
McVay and GM Les Snead have revamped the league’s worst offense, hoping to give Goff more support after a rookie season that saw him go 12-of-205 (54.6 percent) for 1,089 yards with five TDs and seven INTs. Los Angeles, 4-5 with Keenum starting, lost all seven games Goff started.
Wide receivers Kenny Britt and Brian Quick, along with tight end Lance Kendricks, are gone. The Rams signed wide receiver Robert Woods, and drafted tight end Gerald Everett (Round 2) and wide receiver Cooper Kupp (Round 3). They also signed 35-year-old left tackle Andrew Whitworth to a three-year, $33.75 million contract with $15 million guaranteed, hoping to give Goff better protection.
Defensively, the Rams are led by Aaron Donald, the player Justin Pugh considers the best defensive tackle in football. They also have cornerback Trumaine Johnson and linebacker Alec Ogletree.
It will be interesting to see how much progress Goff and the Rams have made.