The Arizona Cardinals always have one tough game a year against the Los Angeles Rams and the Rams are hoping that they are building towards not just competing with, but taking over the NFC West over the Arizona Cardinals.
Thank you from 3K from Turf Show Times for putting this together.
So there's kind of one big story for the Rams this year that overshadows everything else, and I don't mean Jared Goff. Does the excitement of having a new team in L.A. outweigh the last decade of terrible results?
Ultimately, there's a schism in the fan base between those who have been fans and the new population.
For the "new" LA-based fans who either (a) haven't paid much attention to the Rams or regular season NFL football or (b) consider themselves Rams fans but haven't paid much attention to them in some time, I think it does. We've seen quite a bit of that from fans who are supportive of Rams Head Coach Jeff Fisher and the trajectory of this team...neither of which are really all that supportable by normal human logic.
But for the majority of Rams fans who have actually watched this team especially in the last four years under Fisher and General Manager Les Snead, I don't think it does. That goes even for Los Angeles-based fans. In fact for that segment (who are radically outnumbered by those LA fans who haven't paid attention to the Rams and I don't blame them), their end of the spectrum is more that the Rams need to move on from Fisher after his contract expires this year largely because his football team won't captivate the city and this is a unique window to do just that.
With a new franchise QB in tow and the Rams' home stadium not even opening until 2019, there is a sense that there's time for the Rams to figure it out. The question is how much of the new luster will wear off by then if improved results aren't coming in.
What kind of effect will relocation and settling in have on the actual on-field results this season?
Honestly, I don't think it will have much of one. It would be naive to suggest that wasn't a prime reason behind the Rams' hiring of Fisher in the first place given his experience in overseeing the relocation of the Houston Oilers to Tennessee back after the 1996 season. His experience and (and I mean this sincerely) adroit skill in navigating this process probably renders this more of a moot point than it would otherwise with a different head coach.
I said something positive about Jeff Fisher as a head coach in the NFL. The end of days is upon us.
Back to the other big story this offseason. What are the expectations for Goff this year, besides goosing ticket sales?
Goff's not only coming into a rookie NFL season, he's doing it with the worst offense in the NFL in 2015. The personnel changes to that 32nd-ranked offense aside from Goff? Cutting Jared Cook and drafting two wide receivers and two tight ends on Day 3 of the 2016 NFL Draft. So there's a ton of context to at least acknowledge as to why it's fair to expect less than stellar statistical production from Goff in 2016.
That being said, he was the #1 overall pick in the 2016 NFL Draft. Context aside, if he doesn't put up a season that tops Philadelphia Eagles QB Carson Wentz...well, we all know what we'll be reading in a year's time. I'd be surprised if he crosses the 4,000-yard mark like his #1 overall predecessor in Tampa Bay Buccaneer Jameis Winston, but I also don't think he has to. If the Rams' strategy is to lean on defense and the running game (it is), then Goff just has to avoid being the reason why the Rams' offense fails, something Nick Foles couldn't do in 2015.
The last time Jeff Fisher coached a winning team (the 13-3 2008 Tennessee Titans), his team finished 27th in the NFL in passing yards. If Goff leads the 2016 Los Angeles Rams to a 13-3 record while finishing 27th in passing as a team? I think Rams fans will be ok with that.
Oh, and the 2008 Titans that finished 13-3 with the 27th-ranked passing offense? They finished just behind the St. Louis Rams in passing yards that year...the 2008 St. Louis Rams who went 2-14.
Here's hoping for 27th place.
Is there much faith that Jeff Fisher will be able to develop a viable franchise quarterback?
You've been hacked.
It looks like the Rams have a legit offensive star in Todd Gurley. Is that enough to make their offense great again?
In 2015, Todd Gurley burst on to the scene winning the AP Offensive Rookie of the Year award after racking up more than 1,100 yards in just 12 starts and doing ridiculous things on the football field. The Rams nonetheless had the worst offense in the NFL.
Lesson: The running back position has serious limitations in how much it impacts overall team performance in modern NFL football and Todd Gurley is human.
But that’s ok. We can (and should) applaud and amaze at what Todd Gurley does even if he can’t buoy an entire offense by himself.
With seven first-round picks in the front seven, the defense is getting a lot of hype, but that unit also went through some pretty big changes during the offseason (losing Chris Long, James Laurinaitis, Rodney McLeod and Janoris Jenkins). Is this still one of the NFL's best defenses?
That's gonna be tough to predict. The Rams were the ultimate bend-but-don't-break defense last year finishing 27th in yards allowed but offering one of the league's best defenses in terms of points allowed and red zone stinginess. As you noted, they're losing a starter at every level and adding two free agents in DE Quinton Coples and CB Coty Sensabaugh...so there's reason to anticipate a regression. I think there's a fair case for the optimist here though as the Rams lost a TON of time to injury on the defensive side especially with LB Alec Ogletree, DE Robert Quinn and CB E.J. Gaines.
The Rams' hopes should be that a healthier defense limits the regression while Goff is able to make an impact on the offensive side that outweighs that defensive regression.
When it doesn't happen after Week 1, I expect Rams fans to assume their normal positions.
Who's the fan favorite player, the cult hero [think how John Kuhn used to be in Green Bay] and why?
The more popular players are obviously RB Todd Gurley and DT Aaron Donald, but for the deeper fan favorite it has to be FB/TE/humantruck Cory Harkey. Ol' Molasses isn't much of a runner. Or a receiver. Or really of a football player. And God love him for it.
How does the first month of the season go for the Rams? The last month of the season? What's the final record going to be?
Well, it's gonna start off huge with one of the Week 1 Monday Night Football slots against the San Francisco 49ers. One of the least enjoyable aspects of Fisherball is the consistent slow starts; in fact, the Rams have started off 1-2 every year under Jeff Fisher. Making things worse is that the Rams have the third-toughest schedule in the NFL in 2016. So I've got them with an ugly month to get the season started and an ugly month closing things out for another ugly year of ugly 7-9 football...in beautiful LA.